x
  • Country ranking ?

    368
  • Producer ranking ?

    6
  • Decanting time

    3h
  • When to drink

    now to 2035
  • Food Pairing

    Spring Lamb with Honey and Thyme Baby Vegetables

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

The result of rigorous selection at each stage of production, in both the vineyard and the winery, this great, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon wine is typical of the Saint-Estèphe appellation. Structured and tannic but with all the elegance and refinement of a Grand Cru Classé, with time it develops a delicate and complex bouquet.

The wines have considerable ageing potential and are exceptionally long-lived. Certain vintages (1921, 1929, 1982, 1990, 2009, 2016) are considered legendary. 

Matured for 18 months in 60% new oak barrels, the premium wine accounts on average for 55% of the estate’s total production.

 

The 95-hectare vineyard in one single block, extremely unusual in the Medoc, is located on a very well exposed gravelly land, by the Gironde. The vineyard hence overlooks the estuary. The proximity to this vast body of water locally called “river” has a very smoothing climatic impact on the vineyard. The river and its tide mitigate and moderate the climate’s rigor: by mollifying the frost and refreshing blazing summer heat.

60 % of new french oak barrels, supplied by several carefully- selected coopers are used in Montrose, and 40 % in one year old barrels. The average ageing period is 16 to 18 months.

For our second wine, DAME DE MONTROSE, the proportion of new french oak barrels reaches about 15 to 20 %. The average ageing is 12 months; so begins a long process of racking rhythm.

This is a very natural process of slow wine decanting, to isolate the fine particles still present in the wine. All the wines are finely racked every 3 months, a very traditional method.

The wine is moved from one barrel to the other by gravity. Once the barrel’s bottom is reached, the workers carefully view, with a candle, the lees coming off the clear part of the wine. The fining is made traditionally, in barrels, with fresh egg whites, in order to refine the wine and to soften the tannins.

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Wine Information

Main characteristics of the vintage
The particularly hot winter caused an exceptionally precocious bud burst. Spring was cold, but the summer was historically hot and dry.
The little rain in September favoured the abundance of the harvest, perfectly healthy and ripe.

Period of harvest
September 14th – October 3rd

Blend

  • Cabernet-Sauvignon: 64 %
  • Merlot: 32%
  • Cabernet franc: 4 %

Tasting notes
Ruby colour.
Full, deep and fresh on the nose revealing an outstanding complexity: cocoa, candied, quince, even citrus fruits.
This wine is fabulously balanced on the palate, very silky, fine texture showing an incredible length with empyreumatic aromas.
Extremely well structured, strong personality.

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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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Latest Pro-tasting notes

32 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Medium and Brick red

ending

Long, Pure and Flavorful

flavors

Blackcurrant, Mineral, Vanilla, Smoky and Cedar

nose

Intense, Complex and Charming

recommend

Yes

taste

High in Acidity, Perfectly balanced, Concentrated, Complex, Medium-bodied, Firm, Rich and Ripe

Written Notes

This has always been a bit of a controversial wine in my mind, never living up to my expectations. I suppose I need to curl up with a bottle for five hours, as Mr. Squires insists, one of these days; my one Achilles' heel as a wine writer is that I tend to experience many wines at once and smaller samples. I enjoy the comparison and contrast of that format most; however, I do recognize that my impressions may be more snapshots than full length videos, but I doubt that I am alone in that regard when it comes to those in the business of publishing their notes. Back to the 1990&the nose had that greenish hue with the bean but also a sweet pinch of cinnamon, and there were much more pronounced aromas of barnyard and animal, which has always been one of my issues with this wine. There were a lot of horses racing around my glass, thoroughbreds perhaps, but horses nonetheless. A touch of morning mouth did not help, and I am talking about the wine and not me. The nose needed a lot of coaxing to shed its animal skin and don a mineral one. Once that skin was shed, I slowly started to become more infatuated with the wine and found more mocha, coffee and piercing minerals within. The horsy quality faded back in and out; it was a wine that almost needed to be swirled a few minutes before each sip and evaluation. The richness of fruit was clearly superior though, but its animal components kept distracting me. The plump, rich and fat fruit combined with its elegant and long acidity won me over a bit, but I still have my doubts about this 'modern-day legend'

  • 95p

A fascinating wine as it a controversial one. When released, I think Parker gave it 100, or certainly close to. Clive Coates utterly dismissed it. At the time, Parker seemed spot on and Coates out of whack. Coates later recanted, to a degree, though never to the extent that Parker loved it. And I’ll confess to buying a few bottles at the time. It does seem that the dreaded brett emerged and overtook many of the bottles (possibly not everything was bottled at the same time and there may be variation?). On the day, some liked this. Others did not. I did not (and as one or two of those bottles are still in the cellar, I really wanted to love this). For me, definitely some brett (and I work on the principle that if I can pick it, then it really must be rife). A little fruit remaining but dulled by the faults. What was really frustrating was that there was just enough fruit to reveal what might have been. It should have been glorious. There was, however, absolutely no length to it.

Ruby, garnet tim. Tight, slightly herbal, scented, nuanced, intense, refreshing, stunning nose, floral notes, gorgeous, nuanced and layered. Layers upon layers. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, elegant, nuanced and refreshing, intense, mouthwatering, amazing, ads and ads and everything is so fresh. This was served blind and I spotted it on the nose, perfect, my best bottle of this so far. 100

  • 100p

Ruby colour. Full, deep and fresh on the nose revealing an outstanding complexity: cocoa, candied, quince, even citrus fruits.
This wine is fabulously balanced on the palate, very silky, fine texture showing an incredible length with empyreumatic aromas.
Extremely well structured, strong personality.

Consistent notes. Animal, concentrated truffles, incredibly thick intensity, then explosion of everything on the palate which is just sensational. This is legend of perfection and a phenomenal wine. The nose changed constantly from animal flavor to truffle flavor and then back again.

Bruno Lemoine (now at Larrivet Haut Brion) was technical director at Montrose at that time and it was him who decided to do extensive green harvest during summer 1990. Jean-Luis Charmolüe, the owner, wasn't happy, constatly reminding Bruno Lemoine of possible mistake by doing green harvest. He stopped complaining however, when wine critics led by wine-guru Robert Parker praised this wine to the skies from bottle with perfect score of 100p!! All three times I've tasted it (two sources), the bottles were perfect.

  • 100p

Carnality and a kind of wild, wanton grace distinguish this wine. For many in our tasting, it was one of the wines of the evening. You have cassis, leather and herbs on the nose, consorting with redcurrant and some tobacco. It opens with a lush, sweet opulence that has nice delineation, and still impressive tannic structure. You get layers of sweet fruit with an exotic spice mixture at and past the mid palate, and it flirted nicely with the stunning Macaronade. The finish is awash in concentration, a wine of palate enveloping dimensionality, to me just shy of the poise and tension I’m after in wines with the potential for greatness certainly evident here. 96 Points

  • 96p
1990 Chateau Montrose (bottle number one): Robert Parker scored this one a perfect 100 on release. When Vito opened and decanted this bottle, the unusual “barnyard” aromas gave him pause. While the musty, manure and dirt laden smells did diminish with air time, they never really left. A bad bottle? No! The wine tasted fine…better than fine, it was really good! Black fruit flavors, hinting of boysenberry, were ripe and appealing. Faint minerality, graphite & earth notes were way in the background. Not your typical muscular St. Estephe, but quite enjoyable.
On previous occasions it has been pure joy of old style Bordeaux, but tonight's bottle lack a little of being perfect. The nose was black olives with a hint of black currants. Later in the glass after warming up a ripe blackberry flavor appeared and it softens up, but the conclusion remains rustic but powerful. Points 96
  • 96p
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Information

Origin

St. Estephe, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Outstanding

Value For Money

Best buy

Investment potential

Average

Fake factory

None

Glass time

1h

Inside Information

Wine Advocate | Rating: 100

The final blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot and 4% Cabernet Franc was harvested between September 14 and October 3. The spring was cold, yet summer was extremely hot and dry - one of the hottest vintages since 1949. The fact that virtually no rain fell in September served as a catalyst to get all the grapes ripe and in cellars. Some bottles of this wine have a definite brett population that gives off the notes of sweaty horses, but this one did not. The ones I have had from my cellar - where I have had it frequently - are quite pure and clean. I suspect that the brett population is in all of them, but unless the wine hits some heat along the transportation route or in storage, the wine will not show any brett. This one tasted at the chateau, as well as those I've had from my cellar, have been pristine and not showing the sweaty horse notes that can be in evidence in brett populations that have flourished in the bottle because of external temperatures. This wine has an incredibly complex nose of spring flowers, blackberry and cassis liqueur, scorched earth and barbecue spice. It is full-bodied, majestic and opulent, with low acidity and fabulous fruit. It is close to full maturity. The wine should continue to drink well for at least another 30 or more years, but it is showing secondary nuances in the perfume. The wine is absolutely magnificent, broad, savory and mouth-filling. This is one of the all-time modern legends from Bordeaux as well as Chateau Montrose.

Author: Robert Parker

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