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Wine is a result of culture and nature coming together. For centuries it has been the fruit of both the vine and of man's labour. We are all familiar with the pleasure wine brings. The Roman expression : bonum vinum laetificat cor hominum ("good wine gladdens the heart") shows us how ancient this appreciation of fine wine actually is. Personnaly, I owe the privilege of being able to produce this precious nectar, in the prestigious appellation of Margaux, to my parents, Lucien and Marie-Jeanne. For me, of upmost importance is to strive to make a wine that captures all the finesse and elegance of the appellation.
Desmirail was classified a 3rd Grand Cru Classé as part of the 1855 classification. The wine is the result of a parcel of exceptional terroir within the Margaux appellation, which it represents perfectly with its delicate balance.
Vinification is carried out using modern techniques and equipment, but with an overarching respect for tradition. This results in a wine that can be enjoyed in its youth, but which also has a tremendous capacity to improve with age.
Strict grape selection and carefully adapted maturation methods are both key to making Château Desmirail into the Grand Vin it is.
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.