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Claret of the 1985 Vintage and Mouton-Rothschild 1994

By Tom Cannavan, 04/97

I tasted the first 4 of these 1985s two weeks ago so it was a nice chance to re-taste and check for bottle variation, etc. Mostly these wines were very consistent between tastings, so I'll be brief with these as they are covered fully in my '83 & '85 Claret tasting notes from earlier this month. The appearance of the Mouton '94 was a surprise on the night and was really wonderful I thought - not overawed by the classiest of the '85s. I am buying this.

Domaine de Chevalier, Cru Classe, Graves £34.99
Better on the nose than last tasting with lots of sweet cherry fruit. Very elegantly wrought wine, but still found it rather lightweight.

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, 2nd growth, St-Julien £44.99
Still excellent, still a hint of stalkiness about it, but full of lovely fruit, great length and concentration.

Château Gruaud-Larose, 2nd growth, St-Julien £36.99
Very good, loaded with blackcurrant fruit and spicy oak. Tasted it again after the '94 Mouton and it suffered a bit - came across as a wee bit clumsy by comparison.

Château Léoville-Barton, 2nd growth, St-Julien £32.99
Just as classy as previous tasting. A cut above the others so far in terms of concentration, purity, length, and balance. A star.

Château Lagrange, 3rd growth, St-Julien £59.99 (magnum)
Very dense ruby red tinged with brown. Nice bramble and spice nose and more of the same on the palate. Very nice but a little short and coarse on the finish. A simple wine and should be cheaper.

Château Talbot, St-Julien, 4th growth £36.99
Good dense colour, browning slightly. Striking cabernet nose and intensely sweet as it hits the palate with cassis and cherry fruit, but loses momentum and quickly fades. Short on the finish, and not enough concentration or complexity. Not as good as "big brother" Gruaud.

Château Léoville-Las-Cases, St-Julien, 2nd growth £48.99
Most even, dense and youthful colour of the evening so far. Very classy cabernet fruit on the nose and intriguing complexity. On the palate amazing concentration of intense licorice flavour with lovely creaminess too. Sense of focus and purity. Great length and stays balanced and in place throughout. A truly great wine.

Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac, 1st growth 1994 £44.99
Guest appearance for this newly arrived '94. I thought this was really spectacular and eminently drinkable at this stage. Vibrantly purple/black with gorgeous dark roasted coffee bean and tobacco notes on the nose. Smooth as silk on the palate with opulent fruit and firm tannins evident. Very chewy, concentrated flavours though only medium bodied. Loaded with woody tannin in the finish, though these were not unpleasant and promise decent longevity for this wine. Extremely fine.