x
  • Country ranking ?

    72
  • Producer ranking ?

    5
  • Decanting time

    3h
  • When to drink

    now-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Grilled lamb chops- especially with herbs

The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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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

Whether by design or by pure chance, there are in the world exceptional places. Cheval Blanc is one of these. Combining a unique soil with a symbiotic mix of grape varieties, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, Cheval Blanc produces a wine, which has the rare quality of being good at any age. It is without doubt one of the most consistent wines in the world. Cheval Blanc's unique identity is due to its varied soils, early-ripening microclimate, the percentage of Cabernet Franc in the vineyard, and the close proximity of the finest wines of Pomerol.

Château Cheval Blanc has the rare ability to be good at whatever age. It is enjoyable young or as much as a century old in certain vintages. However, a great wine only reveals its full potential and all its subtle nuances after several years in bottle. It takes time to show its true colours and before reaching its peak. Every vintage of Cheval Blanc is made according to the traditional philosophy that great wine needs to age.
It should nevertheless be said that wines with ageing potential go through several periods, and that each one has its own type of attractiveness. This is all part of Château Cheval Blanc's fascinating complexity. Three different bottles of Cheval Blanc from the same vintage drunk at five, twenty, and forty years of age will each show a different facet of the same wine, variations on the same lovely theme. A bottle of fine wine meant to age is like a library of flavours that develop throughout its existence.
Wine is a "cultural" beverage that is very much alive and develops countless nuances over time. That is why this long waiting period needs to be respected. It is crucial to the wine's evolution, so that it can deliver its very best.

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Wine Information

The 1990 IS A GREAT VINTAGE, IRRESISTIBLE..
1989 enjoyed remarkably warm, dry conditions, and the same went for 1990, although with a few spells of very hot weather. In the course of July and August,there were eleven days on which temperatures exceeded 35°C, and on some days it even came close to 40°C. From July to September, there were far more hours of sunshine than average (+27%) and rainfall was 150 mm down on average over
the year as a whole.

As a result, the vine cycle broke all records, with budburst on 15th March and
flowering around 25th May. After moderately early veraison on 12th August for the Cabernet Franc, the ripening process was extremely quick. Harvesting started on 11th September and ended on the 25th. Thanks to severe thinning, yields were kept down below 40 hl/ha and the harvest was brought into the winery at optimal ripeness levels with grapes rich in sugar and phenolic compounds, and low in acidity.Although the average natural alcohol content was 13.6°, many vats of Merlot exceeded 14°. This was certainly a year fulfilling all the conditions to produce a very great vintage…







 

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Vintage 1990

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.

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Average Bottle Price

2017 2015 2013 2012 2011 2010 2005 2000 1995
1 190€ +20.7% 986€ +21.1% 814€ +5.9% 769€ -10.7% 861€ -4.1% 898€ +113.3% 421€ +41.3% 298€ +41.2% 211€

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

27 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Full, Ruby red and Healthy

ending

Long, Pure, Lingering and Sharp

flavors

Mint, Mineral, Blackberry, Pepper, Vanilla and Toasty

nose

Youthful, Complex, Fresh and Ripe

recommend

Yes

taste

Average in Acidity, Warming, Medium tannin, Complex, Concentrated, Well-Integrated, Youthful, Full-bodied, One-dimensional, Round, Rich, Full, Dry and Silky tannins

Verdict

Exotic and Sophisticated

Written Notes

Another outstanding vintage. Overripe Merlot dominated at one time but Cabernet Franc has been in the ascendancy. 11-25 Sep. 55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc. 38 hl/ha. In Petit Cheval 1990, 60% Cabernet Franc. Very exotic style of Cheval – very complex, truffle nose. This is a super vintage with lots of freshness for ageing. Now ready to drink.
Very dark indeed with a narrow brick rim. Aromatic and rich and lively – wonderful palate cover – meaty and concentrated and terribly flattering. With some delicacy on the finish. Real lift. But a little dry on the finish. Much more supple and voluptuous than the 1982 beside which it was served.

  • 95p

The 1990 Cheval Blanc is a vintage that once upon a time I drank regularly, although I had not seen it since March 2016. Poured against the 1990 Lafite-Rothschild, this is the clear winner. Still youthful in color with modest bricking. The bouquet explodes from the glass with kirsch, mulberry, antique furniture and black truffle scents. With aeration it becomes more savory, the Cabernet Franc wanting to see more of the olfactory action. The palate is medium-bodied and comes equipped with a stunning velvety texture. This Saint-Émilion feels spherical, conveying a sense of controlled decadence but avoiding any ostentation. This is as good a bottle as I have encountered over the years. Brilliant. Tasted at Noble Rot's “Xmas” dinner.

  • 98p

This is a great and irresistible vintage at Cheval Blanc.

The colour is deep and dark with brick-red highlights.

The complex and remarkably intense nose features aromas of truffle, candied fruit, quince jam, very ripe grapes and cocoa. Fresh scents of caramel and vanilla and a touch of black pepper appear with aeration, as well as a smoky leather, and forest floor notes. The bouquet is quite exotic, as well as both powerful and elegant.

The wine starts out very rich and assertive on the palate with flavours reminiscent of toast, coffee, caramel, and cocoa beans, as well as more musky components (leather and fur). The tannic structure is sturdy whereas the texture is rich, velvety, and extremely fine-grained. There is a touch of liquorice on the warm, tremendously long finish.

1990 Cheval Blanc is an outstanding success for the estate, the perfect counterpart to the very great 1989 vintage, and a wonderful way to complete the trilogy begun in 1988, which can only be compared to the mythical 1947-1948-1949 series. This is an irresistibly delicious wine that is presently at its peak, but which will stay there for many more years.

An extraordinary wine, one of the stand-outs of the vintage. The nose is a riot of raspberries, tobacco and game. It opens with remarkable silky sweetness, the plushness of its youth is starting to relent, as the Merlot increasingly passes the baton to the Cab Franc. The ripe fruit is felt again at the mid palate, with a fascinating exoticism that keeps reeling you in. Plum, mocha, soy and Asian spices provide a remarkable kaleidoscope of flavors. It finishes emphatically, but with beckoning complexity, that augurs still greater brilliance ahead. 98 Points+

  • 98p

Tasted on the 9th December 2016. Cheval Blanc matched Montrose to great extent with Cabernet Franc at full blossom. Fascinating and riveting display of richness, sophisticated touch and variety of flavours.

  • 99p
1990 Château Cheval Blanc 1990 was another hot vintage, “a very rich year, lots of sugars and tannins, a very exotic style of Cheval Blanc”, Pierre Lurton told us. The blend is equal Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The brown color of this wine is rather alarming, as are the aromas of figs, which are sometimes indicative of a wine that has reached its peak and might slide into decline – even Lurton said that this was ready to drink. However, there is enough spicy cedarwood to allay those fears, though gamey and truffle notes are also evident. Some tasters detected Brett, and there was a discussion about bottle variation with this wine. Clive Coates felt that “the wine is not at ease with itself”. The magnificent concentration and length are undermined by a certain lack of freshness, which – as this tasting demonstrated – is a defining quality of great vintages of Cheval Blanc. 96
  • 96p
Bright ruby, garnet rim. Nose has everything one want's from Cheval, rich, exotic, spicy, perfumed and even some floral high-notes. Perfect body, fresh acidity, ripe tannins. Superb balance, complex and long.
  • 98p
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Information

Origin

St. Emilion, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Value For Money

Very good

Investment potential

Average

Fake factory

There is a possibility

Glass time

2h

Inside Information

Vintage from 11 September to 25 September - only the 1945 and the 1989 were picked earlier during this century. Strict thinning out in this prolific vintage produced 38 hl/hectare. 55% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% alcohol. The overripe Merlot this year was balanced by Cabernet Franc freshness. The dream comparison with 1989. In 2011 from double magnum, a nose of figs. Toast and caramel. An amazing array of scents. Fabulous, sweet, spicy cinnamon on the palate. Pure silk. Tremendously seductive with sweet leather at the end. In 2013, just incredible - one of the greatest Cheval Blancs. Serena Sutcliffe, MW WA 98+

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