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Claret of the 1995

By Tom Cannavan, 05/98

A chance to taste wines from this very highly regarded vintage. The tasting was blind, with a couple of "ringers" thrown in. There were 12 wines in all, but only 10 were '95s. One was a Bordeaux from a different vintage, and one was not Bordeaux. As you would expect, the '95s were all pretty unforthcoming: rather hard and tannic. At this stage the wines are difficult to describe accurately, but it was interesting to taste them so young, and to try to assess their structure and potential. Prices are low (Oddbins has a very keen pricing policy).
Blind tasting - these notes are exactly as written.

Château Talbot, 4th growth, St-Julien, £17.99
Deep purple colour with some ruby at rim. Quite closed on the nose, but some cedary, blackcurrant fruit. Mostly plummy, dark, bitter-cherry fruit on the palate. Swamped with acidity and tannin in the finish, but quite deep, rustic fruit. Good.

Château Lagrange, 3rd growth, St-Julien, £16.99
Very dense and opaque purple/black. Very classy blackcurrant nose, slightly minty. Not giving much though - slightly medicinal but not unpleasantly so. Very tough on the palate with astringent tannins, but over some sweet fruit. Plenty of concentration, weight and good length. Could be very good in time I think.

Château Clerc-Milon, 5th growth, Pauillac, £18.99
Medium density, ruby/purple colour. Very soft on the nose with plenty of sweet, minty, cabernet fruit. Slightly thin on the palate, but bags of ripe fruit and a nicely balanced wine. A little bit flat at this stage, but should be nice in time. Pauillac I think.

Château Lynch-Bages, 5th growth, Pauillac, £24.99
A little more warmth to the colour, very dense indeed. More upfront fruit on the nose, quite striking. A little bit green? Very tannic and grippy. Bags of bold, ripe fruit too and well extracted. Fine ripeness on the palate, no sign of greenness. Tannins really blunt the finish at this stage. Very promising.

Wing Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon 1994, Mt. Veeder California, £18.99
Dark purple colour, almost black. Lovely cabernet fruit on the nose, a bit vegetal. I recognise this. Californian I think. Very succulent with bags of slightly jammy fruit but good balance overall. Plenty of tannin still and a very distinctive wine. Good, long finish.

Château Palmer, 3rd growth, Margaux, £50? (sold out)
Very deep purple colour. Quite tight, but straightforward black fruits then a more interesting, higher, flowery note developing. Really quite luscious palate with minty, eucalyptus, blackcurrant fruit and spice. Great thwack of tannin really powers through in the finish which is quite difficult at present. Could be excellent. Margaux I would guess from the nose.

Château Bourgneuf, Pomerol, £16.99
Very dark purple/black colour. Nose is rich, deep and sweetly scented. Extremely rich, plummy fruit on the palate. Quite a fat, generous wine beneath a cloak of fine tannin and bitter, orange-pith acidity. The softness of the fruit suggests the Right Bank. Could be delicious in time.

Château Petit-Village, Pomerol, £28.99
Deep ruby colour. Inviting mocha coffee nose. Very rich, with plenty of spicy, blackcurrant fruit. Richness not carried through on the palate. Refined, soft, cherry fruit and plenty of tannin and acid, but rather flat and unexciting at this stage.

Château La Couspaude, Grand Cru, St-Emilion, £18.99
Deep ruby red, fringed with amber. This is older wine. Mellow, warming nose of sweet fruit and cedar. Quite refined. Lovely balance, with plenty of toasty oak, sweet blackcurrant fruit and chewy tannins. Mature - maybe an '85?
(N.B. - it isn't an old wine: it's the '95, but I have never experienced such a mature looking and tasting wine at this age. It's tasty, but also slightly freakish and a bit worrying).

Château Grand-Mayne, Grand Cru Classé, St-Emilion, £24.99
Dense, even black/purple colour. Very slight suggestion of corkiness. Little else on the nose. Quite sweet striking the palate, with juicy cassis fruit and good concentration. Structured. Packed with acidity too, but plenty of ripe fruit.

Château Troplong-Mondot, Grand Cru Classé, St-Emilion, £34.99
Very dark, even, purple/black. Richly blackcurranty on the nose. A big, bold, ripe, concentrated wine with loads of fruit and fine structure, but very unapproachable right now due to loads of tannin swamping other components. I would guess this will become very good in time and will stay big and succulent.

Château Cos d'Estournel 1986, 2nd growth, St-Estephe, £77.99
Very deep colour, with amber rim. An older wine. Quite a distinctive, cheesy, ripe nose. Very serious wine this. A streak of peppery, cabernet fruit on the palate, with rich, chewy texture and lovely balance. Loads of tannin in the finish, but fine length and purity. This is in need of more time as it's pretty tough still, but is quite something.