TN: 1994 Bordeaux at 15


Matt organized a dinner around the 1994 Bordeaux vintage last night.
Nice group of 8 gathered at Union Square Cafe. One advantage of the
recession has been some better corkage deals, and $10/bottle at USC
certainly qualifies as a good deal.
Ben had generously brought a starter, the 1994 Laville Haut Brion.
Recently I've run across several very advanced 1994-1996 white Bdx,
and Gilman has commented about same thing. I didn't detect any
extraordinary oxidation here, just a light nutty note that seems right
for 15. On the rounder more tropical side, a bit subdued, good not
great for me despite vintage. B
We moved to the reds, doing the Right Bank first.
First Flight
1994 L'Evangile - this flight had some of the biggest divergences of
opinion. I thought the Evangile a bit tight, but pretty tasty -
midweight ripe red fruit, some coffee/mocha, good length, tannins only
thing holding it back from outstanding. B/B+
1994 Clinet - others liked more than I (which surprised me because
this was one of my WOTN when we did 1994s 5 years ago). Black and red
berries, surprisingly short/clipped. B-
Second Flight
1994 Angelus - drinking quite well now, though there's enough
structure to hold. Smoky, mineral, black currant and plum, very good
and my second favorite of night. B+/A-
1994 Lafleur - the beast. Very solid black plum and berry fruit, but a
real wall of tannins. I had written needs 15 years, Paul opined 10, so
we settled for 12.5. :) B for now, but most room for improvement
of night, I voted as my #3.
1994 Trotanoy - I liked a bit more than table. Minerally, crunchy red
fruit, again the tannins are holding it back, but I have doubts this
can age past the tannins. Drink now with steak. B
Third Flight (with main courses)
1994 Haut Brion- this is first time I ever remember an unanimous WOTN
with this group. I've always liked this, but this bottle showed
especially well. Dark fruit, gravel, tobacco. Tannins are present but
riper/rounder than some other wines. Nice balanced package of acids,
tannins, and fruit. Smooth and elegant. A-
1994 Mouton Rothschild
As much as we like teasing Frank re Mouton, I can't say this was worst
wine of the night. Lead pencil, cassis, the typical refrain of
tannins, no Moutonesque exoticism that I can note. B
1994 Cos D'Estournel
My notes just read "Hard hard hard." Some blackcurrant fruit, but hard
tannins totally dominate. Maybe this will show well in 10+ years, but
I'm not sad it is my lone bottle. B-/C+
Fourth Flight
Brian had brought a couple bonus bottles, which we tried blind with
the one remaining Medoc
Blind #1
A little herbal, big tannins, some cedary oak. Big wine, needs food.
1994 Sociando Mallet B-
Blind #2
I really didn't care for this, a bit weedy, hard tannins, there's both
green fruit and green tannins. Might have been better with meat. 1994
Reserve de Comtesse, C+
1994 Leoville Poyferre
Some others really disliked, I thought this showed as a nice if not
outstanding claret. Meaty, cassis fruit, tannins just a tad tough,
not great but I'd be happy with it on my dinner table on steak night.
B
So not so different than what I would have predicted going in. Wines
mostly good but not great, all still with substantial tannins, lots of
"good steak wines" but with only a couple of exceptions not any
potentially stellar wines.
The appetizers were not very red Bordeaux friendly, maybe a half
order of pasta would have been better, but I opted for a small portion
of a main of softshelled crab with fennel and roasted peppers. Not a
match, but what I felt like eating. For main I got lamb chops, with a
good potato gratin and some radicchio, arugula, etc. Three out of four
of my chops were tasty, one tasted totally unseasoned, very strange.
Good cheese course (I had a Cowgirl Mt Tam, Grayson, and an Italian
smoked sheeps cheese).
Thanks to Matt for organizing and to all for good company.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent
wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't
drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no
promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency. 
Reply to
DaleW
oops, forgot to add the dessert I brought:
1997 Foreau/Clos Naudin Vouvray Moelleux This is the regular, not the Reserve. Apples, brown sugar, some Chenin wooliness, a bit lean. Good but not great, I have to remind myself to always spend just a bit more to get the reserve, which is almost always in the great category for me. B/B+
Reply to
DaleW
I'm surprised that they showed as well as they did. I have a couple of bottles of 1994 Ch. Cordellian Bages and 1994 Petrus....kind of the alpha-omega thing and the only 1994 Bordeaux in my cellar. I've been drinking a lot of Haut Brion lately....just a coincidence but I'm finding them to all have a fairly agressive tobacco note. Is it me (a reformed smoker who still gets the urge occasionally) or is strong tobacco a part of Haut Brion's terror?
Reply to
Bi!!
I have seen several reviews, mainly old ones, that mention tobacco in relation to Haut Brion as well as other wines from Bordeaux. It is difficult to tell what this means, for very few people have tasted or smelled natural tobacco. Perhaps a comparison with a brand name of tobacco would be more meaningful. Most tobacco has all sorts of things added that change the taste and smell of it. Some tobaccos from Egypt, for example, have a very strong smell, and I have heard it suggested that they are cured using camel dung for the heat. I doubt that very much, but you do get the idea. Then some that were once called ladies cigarettes that had gold colored foil tips were strongly perfumed with rose, violet, etc. Some pipe tobaccos have spirits or fortified wines added. Then there is the old tavern smell of old, stale tobacco smoke which very few would consider positive in relation to the smell of a wine. While the additives used for most name brand modern cigarettes are not so extreme as those mentioned, I doubt if they taste and smell much the same as tobacco cured without smoke contact and with no additives.
Reply to
cwdjrxyz
I think of tobacco as a pretty distinctive smell, and the difference between fire cured and air cured is more a matter of nuance, the basic character is pretty much the same. I grew up in NC and sometimes refer to tobacco leaf or curing barns, different aromas which indeed would be esoteric references to some people, but the basic smell of an unlit cigar is tobacco. I think most people blindfolded would be able to guess tobacco if either a few leaves of cured tobacco or a cigar was passed under their nose.
I do think of tobacco as a common reference for Haut Brion (and old style Pape). With age I often get "cigarbox" which to me is a humidor smell = kind of a blend of cedar and tobacco.
Reply to
DaleW
In article ,
I have a smell memory of a tobacco barn in North Carolina. That is what my brain seems to use as a tobacco odor and I certainly get it in Haut Brion.
Reply to
Lawrence Leichtman
I think of it in the same terms. I've just noticed a pronounced tobacco aroma and flavor in Haut Brion regardless of vintage.
Reply to
Bi!!
I have no axe to grind, since I bought no red Bordeaux after 1990. However I did look up 1994 red Bordeaux in a book by Michael Broadvbent. He tasted most of the 1994s, but many just several years after the vintage. On his 5 star scale, he rated the vintage as a whole as 3 star(good). He rated no wines, including all of the first growth as 5 star(outstanding). Petrus was rated 3 star. The only 7 wines rated as 4 star(very good) or that had the potential to develop to 4 star were: Cheval Blanc, Leoville-Barton, Leoville-Las-Cases, Montrose, Pichon-Lalande, Rauzan-Segla, and L'Evangile, and all of the first growths were tasted and did not make the 4 star cut. There were many 3-star(good) wines and several below this level. He thought many of the wines would mature well until about 2012. Thus for one bargian hunting, if you find some 1994s that have been well stored and can taste them, the mentioned 4 star wines might be worth considering if the price is right.
Reply to
cwdjrxyz
I have no axe to grind, since I bought no red Bordeaux after 1990. However I did look up 1994 red Bordeaux in a book by Michael Broadvbent. He tasted most of the 1994s, but many just several years after the vintage. On his 5 star scale, he rated the vintage as a whole as 3 star(good). He rated no wines, including all of the first growth as 5 star(outstanding). Petrus was rated 3 star. The only 7 wines rated as 4 star(very good) or that had the potential to develop to 4 star were: Cheval Blanc, Leoville-Barton, Leoville-Las-Cases, Montrose, Pichon-Lalande, Rauzan-Segla, and L'Evangile, and all of the first growths were tasted and did not make the 4 star cut. There were many 3-star(good) wines and several below this level. He thought many of the wines would mature well until about 2012. Thus for one bargian hunting, if you find some 1994s that have been well stored and can taste them, the mentioned 4 star wines might be worth considering if the price is right. ------------------------------------------------- I have one Rauzan Segla so I ought to bring it to the front. Trouble is, so much wine and only one liver. Graham
Reply to
graham

Site Timeline Threads

  • Betsy made roast chicken, cumin carrot puree, squash, and caprese. Wine for our...
  • last posted in

    General Wine

  • Betsy made roast chicken, cumin carrot puree, squash, and caprese. Wine for our...
  • site's newest in

    General Wine

DrinksForum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.