1989 CHATEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC

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Blake Brown
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1989 CHATEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC

Post by Blake Brown » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:39 pm

1989 CHATEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC- decanted at the dinner table, perfect cork in mint condition; this had a deep dark youthful vibrant purple colour; the nose was smile producing with cedar and leather laced black currant most evident; all continued on with spicy blackberry fruit taking over and a hit of cigar box blending in as well; it coated the palate with that Lafite grace adding a tactile treat to all of the other sensory components; this was absolutely stellar and with the exception of the atypical spiciness, it was consummate Lafite; it stayed the course and was as good and generous 45 minutes later as it was in the first minute; the underlying structure and steadiness of the wine suggests it has many decades of joy to provide to those who venture beyond the cork.

Cheers,
Blake

LaConseillante
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Re: 1989 CHATEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC

Post by LaConseillante » Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:19 pm

Thanks Blake.

Your post came at a good time because I was just about to buy a couple bottles based on my love of the chateau and the vintage. I had read a number of conflicting reviews on the merits of 1989 vs 1990 (which sells for 10-50% higher quite often). Some critics were saying that the '89s acquired maturation "too early" and had a vegetal character. This was not my impression, based on Talbot, Ducru and La Conseillante; the work horses of my stable, and some others, although for my palate these are "young wines" and I have been drinking the 1985s and clearing out the "ancients" ('57 Musigny, '64 Ducru, '26 and '70 Calon Ségur, etc.) at special dinners and occasions. I also read a note somewhere that the cellar master at Lafite served this vintage to certain guests to demonstrate "what Lafite is supposed to taste like" which is a high recommendation in itself! I bought the Lafites based on your recent tasting notes and the condition and provenance of the bottles, but plan to cellar them for a while.
I also saw you had posted a nice review of the 1976 La Mission Haut-Brion which I also bought recently along with a 76 Lafite. It is our anniversary year and there are not a lot of good things left in this vintage. I had switched to other vintages for the annual celebration.

Blake Brown
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Re: 1989 CHATEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC

Post by Blake Brown » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:28 am

Glad my notes helped for your buys. With proper provenance, you should be real happy. I also appreciate some of the information you added in.

LaConseillante
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Re: 1989 CHATEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC

Post by LaConseillante » Sat Mar 31, 2018 12:59 pm

Yes, thanks Blake. The provenance was perfect. Bought new by a renown doctor and cellared in a "multi-million dollar cellar" in North Carolina until he died at age 56 and the cellar was acquired by a local merchant. The fills are in the neck and even the capsules move freely (a sign no seepage has occurred). Color and sediment look as expected.
My wine buddy and his wife are coming to dinner tonight and we are planning on trying a 1985 Vieux Chateau Certan. I have a 1989 as a back-up just in case. I expect it to be soft and charming. Perhaps I will write a review.

Jeff Leve
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Re: 1989 CHATEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC

Post by Jeff Leve » Sun Apr 01, 2018 6:55 am

LaConseillante wrote:My wine buddy and his wife are coming to dinner tonight and we are planning on trying a 1985 Vieux Chateau Certan. I have a 1989 as a back-up just in case. I expect it to be soft and charming. Perhaps I will write a review.
I haven't seen a VCC from 85 or 89 in years. How was it?

LaConseillante
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Re: 1989 CHATEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC

Post by LaConseillante » Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:43 am

I'm new to "social media" and this site, so I probably should learn how to start a new topic, but since you ask...

In a nutshell the wine was fabulous. It reminded my of 2 other wines; 1953 Pichon-Lalande and 1955 L'Evangile. I will try to explain...

My wine buddy was a "bachelor" a couple weeks ago when his wife went for a ski vacation, and we had him over for a roast duck and a 1988 Pommard Clos des Epineaux, a monopole vineyard owned by the Comte Armand that I had bought 4 bottles of after a Burgundy tasting shortly after release and had enjoyed about once a decade since. It was always good and showed no signs of decay, even now after 30 years. We were trying to make his wife jealous and texted pictures but did not hear back. She had had a skiing accident!
So after her return I offered to cheer her up with a wine of her favorite vintage of Bordeaux, 1985 and I had ear-marked this bottle for her. I think it was purchased in a mixed case of 1985 Bordeaux purchased upon release, all of which were good except a corked Figeac opened about 2 years ago.
1985 is a curious vintage worth discussing first to give the character of it. There has been a pattern of bordeaux "twin vintages" characterized by a very good "soft vintage" followed by a very good "hard vintage" and 1985-86 are one of these twin stars. Other examples, largely forgotten or irrelevant are 1899-1900, 1920-21, 28-29, 53-55, 59-61, 89-90 and perhaps others. In each case the first softer vintage was followed by a tannic, long-aging one, and the gentler one tended to be consumed too early while waiting for the "classic" vintage to come around. (Some of those forgotten classics can still provide a stunning experience if you find one in pristine condition). The 1985 vintage was declared "The Vintage of the Century" by Wine Spectator, but it had not even left the barrels before the press was declaring 1986 a superior and more "classic" vintage. As a result the 85s were largely ignored and remained a good bargain, while the 86s with mouth-searing tannins escalated in price rapidly before they were delivered. The 1985s often appeared in comparative tastings where their charm wowed tasters who said they couldn't last. They never went through a "dumb" period. One could, and often did, enjoy them at any age. So while collectors are just now beginning to dip their toes into the 86 pool, the 85s have become something of a rarity. And the truth is, as with their historic relatives, that is a great shame, because the wines are only now beginning to show their full potential. That was legendarily true of the 1953s, an expensive vintage which I enjoyed only once-- a very youthful '53 Pichon-Lalande also at about 33 years old, and also a feminine wine of grace and power. The 53s also had that "unique" character that they never went dull, and always showed extremely well. But they were heralded, and the 85s, while not forgotten, were overshadowed by the 86s.

The wine opened easily with a standard screwpull and the cork emerged in one piece after 33 years, except for a crumb which stayed in the bottle after decanting. The nose was reassuring at first and opened quickly to reveal a multi-dimensional wine. Glasses were poured all around and dinner was served. A brisket roasted for hours in an old family recipe marinade of wine, citrus and root vegetables, with the jus reduced and thickened with beurre manie napped the meat like a slick of chocolate on an eclair. Baby carrots looked preserved in amber in their maple sage glaze and potato galettes lent a crisp and creamy accent.
I smelled the wine for a long time before tasting it. It is the sharper sense for me. What began to emerge was the complexity. As expected the first scents were leather and dried rose-petals. The fruit was present but not more prominent than 5 other scents. I would characterize it both on the nose and palate as dark cherry, because it was neither a high-toned raspberry, nor a brooding blackberry or currant. The color was a deep garnet, nearly to the edge. Not an opaque garnet like the un-cut stone, but a glowing dark red, like the polished gems you see in the shop windows of Prague. The taste matched that vision; a dark cherry base, but not so fruity or heavy on the palate to dominate the nose. This is not a "velvety" wine like 82 Mouton, nor as big and showy. It invites you to explore rather than hitting you with obvious power. There was a distinct scent of wildflower honey. And the tannins had morphed, not into licorice or creosote, but into the smell of new bicycle tires! It is a feminine wine but more lithe than either muscular or fleshy. It is a ballerina or an Audrey Hepburn of a wine, not a Marilyn Monroe or athlete. It also showed no signs of decline over this, and the following cheese course. It was the multidimensional character that reminded me of it's neighbor L'Evangile and the 1955 I had, also at age 33 years. While this wine has now begun to show the true strength of its make-up, experience tells me that a well stored example has at least a decade more on this plateau and promises a slow decline for another decade. The Wine Spectator may have gotten it right after all. The 1985s will probably provide the longest "window of enjoyment" among vintages in their decade. In my memory it is a better wine than the 1989 VCC, which while charming young, has not kept up as well. I should also mention that 1985 La Conseillante which La Revue de Vins de France declared as "wine of the vintage" is a more impressive neighbor. But the 1985 Vieux Chateau Certan is a perfect expression of what it is. What it may lack in pure power, in makes up for in character. A viola is not a better instrument than a violin because it has a bigger body. The VCC is enticing, inviting without being intrusive, a serious wine that rewards those who put in the effort to "dance" with it.

A lovely apricot tart was washed down with sips of a 2000 Royal Tokaji 5 Puttanyos, now colored dark amber, but with no sign of caramelization, all apricot flavored with just the right acidity for immortality. Voila!

Jeff Leve
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Re: 1989 CHATEAU LAFITE ROTHSCHILD PAUILLAC

Post by Jeff Leve » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:36 pm

That is a great tasting note! Bravo and those are two other wines I can only dare to hope to taste.

I received your note about missing posts. Sometimes you have to refresh your screen to see your post. Try it next time.

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