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Undeniably, Talbot is one of the most famous Médoc wines. This fine reputation is no doubt due to a mysterious combination of factors, such as the size of its vineyard, nearly one hundred hectares, and the regularity of its wine. Nearly a century in the same family, the name Talbot is concise and hard-hitting, easy to pronounce in all languages and a part of our history… However, the first thing that makes Talbot popular is the wonderful nature of its wine.
‘For many, Talbot embodies the ideal Saint Julien, a generous bouquet, extremely stable and dependable during aging,’ emphasize Bettane and Desseauve in their Guide to French Wines.
It’s true. A champion of longevity, even when young Talbot is pleasant and rounded, ever distinguished by silky, mild and very civilized tannins. Talbot possesses an extraverted nature. It’s never withdrawn into itself, and has the courtesy of being in a good mood every day. It’s a racy wine, with complex marks of Havana and licorice, classically delicious without ever the slightest hint of austerity.
Legend relates that the name of this imposing estate originates with Connétable Talbot, a famous English warrior, defeated at the battle of Castillon 1453. Talbot is one of the Medoc’s oldest estates, its glory never tainted. Through the years it has been fortunate enough to remain in good hands. The owners are Nancy Bignon- Cordier and her family. They are the fourth generation of Cordiers to manage this Saint-Julien fourth classified growth.
The 1996s stand as a “classic” Bordeaux year, although – as Jancis Robinson MW has written – not in the “skinny” sense; although Farr Vintners’ director, Tom Hudson, told the drinks business that it was perhaps a “very good” rather than a “truly great” year as it wasn’t uniformly excellent across the region.
By way of a recap, 1996 was a particularly sterling vintage for Médoc wines. The Berry Bros & Rudd website extolls: “This is one of the great post-war vintages for Médoc Cabernet-based wines. They are rich, complex and beautifully balanced wines, packed with ripe, pure fruit and have the structure that will allow the top wines to age well into the next decade and beyond.”
The Right Bank by contrast are described as “distinguished” but “overshadowed” by the ‘95s – which was an especially good vintage for Saint Emilion and Pomerol.
It was also an excellent vintage for white Bordeaux.
Robert Parker’s scores tend to favour the Left Bank, though a few of the very best wines of the Right Bank received very respectable reviews as well.
Only two wines received 100-points: Lafite and Latour, Margaux was rated 99, Léoville Las Cases 98, Ducru Beaucaillou 96 and Pichon-Comtesse 96.
La Mondotte was the highest rated Right Bank wine on 97-points, Ausone was the next best rated on 93 as was L’Eglise Clinet, while Gomerie, Petrus and Le Pin settled for 92 and Cheval Blanc for 90.
With the passage of nearly 20 years, the wines have naturally appreciated and now that they are well into their drinking window demand will almost certainly begin to push prices up even further for the most in-demand among them.
The figures are often impressive, to date Lafite has seen a rise of 657.9% since its release, its second wine Carruades is up 592%, Latour has risen 437%, Petrus 400% and Pichon Baron 240%.