Claret of the 1990 Vintage
By Tom Cannavan, 03/97
This was a strange tasting for me: the experts are
unanimous on the 1990 vintage being one of the top handful of the century and I'm sure they're
right, yet at least half of these wines disappointed. It's just 6½ years after the vintage, the wines have
been in bottle for only 4 years or so, so maybe they are in a "dumb" phase, but some of the samples presented (
Parker 90 pointers) certainly lack fruit and complexity at this stage. Undoubted favourite of mine was the
Gruaud-Larose, which was wonderful, and which I have bought for my own cellar.
Château Greysac, Médoc, Cru Bourgeois £12.99
Good deep ruby red colour. Oaky nose, a little black currant
fruit, stalky and a hint of barnyard. Lacking fruit on the palate,
astringent, drying tannins. Very unlovable. For £13 I'd spend my cash on two
or three decent new world or Vin de Pays offerings.
Château Lanessan, Haut Médoc, Cru Bourgeois £18.49
A big disappointment. Dark ruby colour, tinged with brown.
Oaky again, stalky again, little sign of fruit on the nose. A bit
better on the palate, with medium body, hints of cherry fruit and
a nice finish - smooth and quite long. But where's the fruit?
Château d'Angludet, Margaux, Cru Bourgeois Exceptionel £21.99
Thin colour, quite brown. Lovely coconut and vanilla nose.
Really fresh and inviting. No fruit again! A short, one dimensional
flavour, medium body and only hints of plummy fruit. The nose
definitely flatters this one. Rather disappointing.
Château Belair, St-Emilion, 1er Grand Cru £28.99
Nice, quite intense purple/crimson colour.
Black fruits on the nose, slightly metallic, plummy notes, but rather
green too. Buried beneath tannin is some juicy blackcurrant fruit
and a smoky quality. Seems to have structure but unbalanced
at this stage. Austere and giving little pleasure. Might improve?
Château Haut-Brion, Bahans Haut-Brion, Graves, £29.99
Drinkable wine at last:-). Intense
purple/crimson colour. Huge nose of flowers, blackcurrant and
toast. Big wine with generous character, soft tannin and chewy
texture. Very pure and long. Large scaled, very impressive.
Château Gruaud-Larose, St-Julien, 2nd growth £31.99
Vibrant, youthful ruby/purple colour. Incredibly dense. A touch of
licorice on the nose, plenty of fruit and oak too. Velvety mouth feel,
loaded with fruit and tannin, but extremely elegant too. Cedar,
minerals. Tannins still firm and grippy, but really first class. Well
integrated, well structured, classy wine with layers of complexity. Will keep. My pick of the night.
Château La Dominique, St-Emilion, Grand Cru Classe £44.99
Ruby purple, not so intense as the Gruaud.
Good fruit pastille nose - slightly sweet and sugary. Plummy, chocolatey
depth. Opulent mouth feel and a good finish. Very good but
lacking some of the character of the Gruaud. Didn't really grab me.
Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac, 5th growth £51.99
Black. Not a chink of light. Very deep, dense brooding nose of almost stewed black fruits. Huge chocolatey
richness, lovely licorice and tar components, spicy and cigar box notes too. Excellent, concentrated and
loaded with extract. Will keep. 2nd choice on the night, but rather expensive.