x
  • Country ranking ?

    28
  • Producer ranking ?

    1
  • Decanting time

    2h
  • When to drink

    now to 2030
  • Food Pairing

    Pork Ribs with Maize Stew

1982 versus 1990 Bordeaux

When you receive an invitation to a comparative tasting of all Premier Crus from the two great vintages of 1982 and 1990, you drop everything and clear your diary. 1982 and 1990 represent the beginning and end of perhaps the greatest era in the history of Bordeaux. During these nine years there were only two vintages that could be seen as disappointments: 1984 and 1987. It could rightly be stated that the period from 1945 to 1953 produced similarly great wines; this is true for the top wines, but the overall quality reached new heights during the 1980s.

1982 was a milestone for the Bordeaux trade, coming as it did after the difficult decade of the 1970s, which was marked by the Bordeaux crisis, and the ensuing collapse of the 1972 bubble, the oil crisis and rapid inflation. On top of this there were a series of disappointing vintages.The financial markets had stabilised by the time the 1982 wines were offered in the spring of 1983, and by this time there was a large new group of potential wine buyers. There had been an influx of new magazines about wine and good living, and the public was ready to spend money. The American Dollar was high against a weak French Franc and, most of all, the wines were spectacular.

There were several reasons for this.

An early, even flowering, a warm but unspectacular summer and an exceptionally hot period during the end of August and the first half of September. It was this heat that made it possible for the record harvest to not only to fully ripen, but also to concentrate the fruit.  The harvest started on September 14 and was finished before heavy rains commenced on October 2. Another reason for the success of the vintage was that most châteaux had invested in their cellars and were able to work such a large and hot harvest. It was now possible to control the fermentation temperatures better than in earlier hot vintages, such as 1947. The grapes produced wines with such high natural alcohol that chaptalization became unnecessary. They showed deep colour, high and unusually soft tannin levels and a better acidity than first thought, as well as great fruit concentration. The media hype was great, particularly thanks to the advent of new wine magazines - this was the vintage that cemented Robert Parker’s reputation. The prices rose rapidly and have not looked back since. I remember all Premier Crus (including Pétrus) being offered to end consumers for around 50 euros en-primeur in 1983.

The scene when the 1990 vintage came along was quite different. There was a surplus of very good to great wine on the market – for the first time there was talk of three great vintages following one another. This lead to most châteaux lowering their prices by about 20 per cent compared to their 1989 prices, even though the quality was outstanding. There had been a steady increase in prices during the 1980s, but they were now more or less back to the opening prices of the 1982s. It was again a record harvest, but because most châteaux had by now introduced a ‘second wine’ and due to the fact they were more selective with regards to quality, there was actually less wine being bottled as ‘Grand Vin’ than in 1982.

We have been following both these vintages from a comparatively early age, as they were both precocious and easy to drink from the start. The top wines from both vintages are spectacular, but the overall quality is much higher in 1990. Here the wines were equally successful on both sides of the river, and even minor châteaux produced something special. We have always found most 1982s from the right bank to be too alcoholic and lacking in structure; indeed many are now ageing rapidly.

So, which vintage would claim victory?

It was easy in the case of Château Mouton Rothschild to pick the winner, given their 1990 has always been the disappointment of the vintage. It is now maturing rapidly and should be drunk or, even better, sold to someone who only cares for the name on the label. The 1982, on the other hand, was always seen as one of the stars of the vintage. Deep coloured with a great concentration of up-front fruit. Good, fresh acidity and a long finish. The only thing that worries me a little is the massive amount of tannins still present.

The 1990 Château Lafite Rothschild is a lovely and charming wine, full of warmth and style. A classic, elegant Lafite. It is ready to drink now and will bring pleasure for some time to come. The 1982 Lafite is ‘The Superstar’ in the eyes of the Chinese and this has led to the wine reaching new record prices at every auction in Hong Kong and beyond. The wine is very good – more concentrated than the 1990 and still very youthful.  We would call this a draw.

1990 Château Haut Brion is one of our favourite wines – a heady nose of tobacco, spices and leather. Lovely, soft fruit and ready to drink now, but don’t be fooled – this will age forever, just like the 1959 and 1961 Haut Brions. The 1982 Haut Brion is also a beautiful, charming wine, offering great drinking pleasure, but it does not quite have the exotic charm of the 1990. 

Drink soon as we don’t see it improving with age. Victory for 1990.

The bottle of 1990 Château Margaux was not a good bottle; the wine had a mature colour and lacked the usual structure and freshness. This is normally a good, soft wine, so we assume that this bottle had been stored under conditions that were too warm. The 1982 was also now quite mature with soft fruit and needs drinking soon. In this case it is a win for the 1982, although normally we would call it a draw.

Château Latour is usually the wine that needs the longest of all the Premier Crus to show its true class. 1990 was unusually soft and not at all typical of a Latour at an early age. It is a very good wine with soft tannins and great balance. Château Latour produced, for me, the greatest of all 1982s. A fantastic, mind-blowing wine, which combined the classic Pauillac style and backbone with spectacularly concentrated and sensuous fruit. It was joy to drink now and will continue to be so for the next hundred years. Another win for 1982.

Both 1990 and 1982 Château Ausone showed mature colour, nose and fruit.Both were quite pleasant to drink but not really up to Premier Cru standard in either vintage. A draw.

We have often given the 1990 Château Cheval Blanc a perfect score in blind tastings, as this is one of the most hedonistic wines we have ever had the pleasure to drink. We have compared it to Sophia Loren in the 1960s – soft, round, voluptuous, sexy and not a hard edge anywhere in sight. This is the uncrowned successor to Cheval Blanc’s legendary 1947. 

We have, on the other hand, never quite understood the constant raving about Cheval Blanc’s 1982. A very overrated wine for us – too alcoholic and overripe. In fact, it is always lacking the structure necessary to be really good. Not bad, but certainly nowhere as good as its reputation. A clear victory for 1990.

1990 Château Pétrus is a fabulous monument of a wine. Indeed, it displays the deepest colour of all. Still quite closed, but a giant waiting to come out and blow us all away. Very, very long finish. A great wine! The 1982 Pétrus is a wine with a fantastic reputation that, similar to the Cheval Blanc, has never really impressed me. Soft, mature and attractive but lacking the structure of a great wine. Another clear victory for 1990.

The luncheon was rounded off in style with Château d'Yquem from both vintages. 1982 was a difficult vintage for Sauternes, being caught as it did by the copious rains of October. Lightweight and really not very good. The 1990 is an opulent, soft and forward Yquem. Attractive and ready to drink now. 1990 prevails again.

All in all a wonderful afternoon with marvellous wines where, in our eyes, this time 1990 showed itself to be the more complete vintage.

by Tb

 

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The Story

Between the estates of Pétrus and La Fleur-Pétrus, amid vineyards, stands a stone house with closed shutters. The road that winds to the house between the vine rows has no signs or indications as to the name of the place. The construction looks more like a maintenance shed for the neighbouring estates than the main building of a winery. However, this is a house that makes one of the most desirable wines in Bordeaux: Château Lafleur.

Lafleur’s wines form an interesting contrast to their neighbour, Pétrus. Their terroirs differ significantly, even though the distance between them is only 50–100 metres. Whereas Pétrus is more seductively rich, full-bodied and intense, Lafleur is charming in its elegance, femininity and subtlety.
Lafleur’s wines are delightful, but they do require aging for at least twenty years in order to display their full, nuanced character. Guinaudeau’s investments into improving quality in all of Lafleur’s functions promise an even better future for the friends of Lafleur. Although tasting the 1947, 1950, 1961, 1975 or 1982, one can only wonder whether Lafleur’s wines could get any better?

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Vintage 1982

Lafleur is a single-vineyard wine with exceptional terroir qualities. Firstly, it is located on a very gentle amphitheatrical slope to the north of Pétrus. The soil is clearly more gravelly and brown than the red clay at Pétrus. A comprehensive soil analysis in 1998 found that the estate comprises as many as five different types: the northwest has brown gravel, the south is more clay-based and sandy gravel, and the east has sandy clay with some gravel. In the middle is a mixture of all of those. These have completely different conditions in terms of the grapes’ ripening, size and concentration. The concentration is also affected by the old vines, with their average age of thirty years. The oldest vines actually go back five decades. We work the vineyard as four different plots, even though they go towards a single wine. We grow two varieties, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, but the differences in soil result in very different grapes within each variety. This diversity is the secret to Lafleur’s greatness,” Guinaudeau explains.

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Average Bottle Price

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2005
2 510€ +0.8% 2 490€ +4.5% 2 383€ -17.8% 2 899€ +20.3% 2 409€ +53.8% 1 566€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Latest Pro-tasting notes

21 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Medium

ending

Long, Smooth and Lingering

flavors

Violet, Truffles and Blackberry

nose

Intense and Complex

recommend

Yes

taste

Balanced, Concentrated, Well-structured, Full-bodied, Ripe, Fresh, Sweet and Silky tannins

Written Notes

These bottles were both typical, the Petrus being classic and beautiful just not spectacular, and the Lafleur being jammy and kinky with lots of exotic fruit melanges. There was a bit more zip and zow in thie Lafleur than the last couple of bottles I have had. The Lafleur is as good as ’82 Pomerol can get, but it ain’t more than 95 points. Sorry.
  • 95p

What an exceptional wine! Cab Franc and Merlot simply doesn’t do a better duet than this. You have cherries, truffles and minerals on the nose. It opens with an almost rapturous combination of depth and sweetness, a beautiful medley of concentration, power and poise. Round and silky on the mid palate, kirsch and licorice emerge, the pitch perfect yet lively acidity peeks out from the plushness of this beautifully intense wine. There is amazing delineation and focus in the midst of the hedonistic appeal. And it is just hitting its stride, with easily 40-50 years of development ahead of it. It finishes with a multi-dimensional, layered vivacity that leaves you wanting to garland Bacchus. 99-100 Points

  • 100p
Tasted in September 2012. Oh my God what a wine! Heavenly stuff. Extremely dark and dense. Wild and incredibly intense nose with "tons" of mocha, bitter chocolate, extremely powerful on the palate with kirsch liqueur, extremely concentrated with extraordinary length. Perfect balance. So thick texture in this wine, that you could cut it in slices. Christian Moueix and Jean-Claude Berrouet from close neighbor Petrus made this wine and it shows, for 100% typical Lafleur this wine isn't. But who really cares, as this wine was, is and will be a legend for many years to come!
  • 100p

Information

Origin

Pomerol, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Value For Money

Good

Investment potential

Very Good

Fake factory

There is a possibility

Glass time

2h

Inside Information

Wine Advocate #183
Jun 2009
Robert M. Parker, Jr. 100 Drink: 2009 - 2030 $3242-$3694
The 1982 Lafleur, at least for my palate, while qualitatively no better than Mouton Rothschild, Latour, and La Mission Haut Brion, is off the charts in terms of the hedonistic and intellectual pleasure it gives me. I have only a few bottles remaining in my cellar, and this 1982 is still a young wine. The extraordinary intensity and purity of the kirsch liqueur and licorice, the remarkable opulence, the thickness and richness, yet the ability to seem fresh with laser-like precision are all things that must be tasted to be believed. This wine is showing a little bricking at the edge, but has off the chart concentration as well as a viscous texture and unreal purity and fruit. It is as close to some of the legendary 1947s that were produced in Pomerol as anything made in the last thirty years. This is a remarkable wine! Anticipated maturity: now-2030. Release price: ($325.00/case)

 

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

100p
 Omar Khan, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  Lafleur 1982  ( Château Lafleur )

What an exceptional wine! Cab Franc and Merlot simply doesn’t do a better duet than this. You have cherries, truffles and minerals on the nose. It opens with an almost rapturous combination of depth and sweetness, a beautiful medley of concentration, power and poise. Round and silky on the mid palate, kirsch and licorice emerge, the pitch perfect yet lively acidity peeks out from the plushness of this beautifully intense wine. There is amazing delineation and focus in the midst of the hedonistic appeal. And it is just hitting its stride, with easily 40-50 years of development ahead of it. It finishes with a multi-dimensional, layered vivacity that leaves you wanting to garland Bacchus. 99-100 Points

8m 13d ago

95p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Lafleur 1982  ( Château Lafleur )

"These bottles were both typical, the Petrus being classic and beautiful just not spectacular, and the Lafleur being jammy and kinky with lots of exotic fruit melanges. There was a bit more zip and zow in thie Lafleur than the last couple of bottles I have had. The Lafleur is as good as ’82 Pomerol can get, but it ain’t more than 95 points. Sorry."

1y 1m ago

100p
 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  Lafleur 1982  ( Château Lafleur )

"Tasted in September 2012. Oh my God what a wine! Heavenly stuff. Extremely dark and dense. Wild and incredibly intense nose with "tons" of mocha, bitter chocolate, extremely powerful on the palate with kirsch liqueur, extremely concentrated with extraordinary length. Perfect balance. So thick texture in this wine, that you could cut it in slices. Christian Moueix and Jean-Claude Berrouet from close neighbor Petrus made this wine and it shows, for 100% typical Lafleur this wine isn't. But who really cares, as this wine was, is and will be a legend for many years to come!"

1y 2m ago

97p
 Omar Khan, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  Lafleur 1982  ( Château Lafleur )

"The bottle we had in Nantucket a few weeks back was a clear ‘100’. This bottle of Lafleur was less developed, and still had some elements that needed to fully emerge. A few found it more ‘one dimensional’ than Petrus, but it is certainly a more focused wine, with even greater future development potential arguably. Cherries, minerals, kirsch and licorice, are evident on the beautiful nose, but this aromatic medley remains a little ‘tight’ in this bottle. But even while seeming a tad ‘young’ on this showing, its precise classicism and focus were exceptional. The Cabernet Franc is seeking to take over from the more youthful Merlot ‘sweetness’ that often was distracting in the earlier evolution of the wine. Multi-faceted depth and dark fruit past the mid palate, the finish is exotic, yet with greater refinement than in the past, and given all that you discern, when it passes out of this current transition, the fireworks will be celestial. 97 Points+ "

1y 2m ago

100p
 Georg Linde, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  Lafleur 1982  ( Château Lafleur )

""A very humbling wine and very moving. Mint, herbs, frankincense, plums, cherries, spices.""

2y 4m ago

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