Thursday, August 28, 2008

A trio of '99 Bdx

As you may recall from a few past posts (here's one), I am a fan of '99 bordeaux. They are soft, full of pure, juicy fruit, higher than usual acidity, and at this point in their development, a complete lack of the blocky, chewy, built for Napa cab and near exclusive red wine drinkers type of structure. These are wines for French comfort food, clarets for drinkers of cooler climate reds, elegant wines to linger over and enjoy with good company in a softly lit den or dining room. That having been said, I tasted these three within 5 minutes of each other, in the comparably sterile surroundings of the K&L tasting room in Redwood City, California, on a near 100 degree day. If I loved 'em this much given these conditions, I can't wait to drink them in Fall in the comfort of my apartment or a local restaurant.

1999 Haut Bailly Pessac-Leognan

Last time I tried this wine, I was really shocked by how dry and chewy the tannins were on the finish: not at all typical for this property or the vintage. Clearly I had tasted an unhappy bottle, as this time the wine was much, much better. Elegant, red fruited wine, with well integrated minerality and acidity. Smooth texture, great balance and just really elegant.

1999 Lynch Bages Pauillac

Young Lynch Bages is typically muscular black currants, with very savory green peppercorn and eucalypt notes playing supporting roles. I haven't had many mature Lynch Bages, though what I have had tastes like softened versions of the above descriptions. Distinctive but not to my taste. I'd have loved to try this wine when it was released, however, as I suspect it would have been quite different, even out of barrel. Terrific perfume, a medley of red and black fruits, coffee liqueur and a touch of damp earth. Very soft, layered and delicate on the palate - is this really Lynch Bages? Quite good.

1999 Pavie-Macquin St. Emilion
Plenty of black truffle, dark cherry, nutmeg and other assorted spice aromas you get with well made, not overdone right bank Bordeaux. Very fresh and bright, focused fruit on the palate, with terrific elegance and length. This was my favorite wine of 25 tasted today, and in the running for my favorite out of maybe 75 or so tasted this week.

On a somewhat related note, I also tasted two high profile 2001 vintage Bordeaux: Leoville-Barton and Cos d'Estournel. The former was agreeable, not world changing but I think fairly well made and surprising in that I actually liked it. The Cos, however was awful. Truly terrible, undrinkable, like nearly any other of their recent wines I have had the misfortune of trying. Jean Guillaume Prats, I believe, is robbing the masses, charging what he does for these unacceptable wines. With the recent change in ownership, I guess that we can look forward to Montelena churning out equally awful wines within the next several years.

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