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1986 Bordeaux


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Notes from a tasting of the 1986 Bordeaux vintage with the Commanderie de Bordeaux at Vancouver. A look back at the excellent 1986 vintage, 20 years on, as it is just coming into best drinking time for many of the wines.

Champagne – Jacquesson Cuve 729 – perhaps the only house taking such care with non-vintage product, this wine is mostly 2001 with a bit of 2000 and 1999 blended in. In the nose a good combination of yeast and fruit, and good mousse, and a long clean finish. Quite pleasant.

With veal cheek and caramelised onion ravioli on celeriac veloute:

La Lagune – served blind, this wine didn’t seem to reflect this vintage – it was soft on palate, without much tannin and it was sweet and pleasant drinking now. For those who were keeping this based on critics predictions of longevity – get in there and start enjoying. We thought it might have been a 1985.

Canon – pale edges, some dark fruit in the nose, starts alright in the mouth but quickly becomes lean and tannic, high acidity and then falls off quickly on the finish. Proves this was mostly a left bank vintage, I guess.

Haut Bages Liberal – everyone that bought this, pat yourself on the back and get out a corkscrew! Sweet fruit and some spice in the nose, with good depth – lots happening there. Tannins more moderate than in the Canon, good balance and length. No rush.

Talbot – darker colour, a big round sweet nose with some lead pencil and a hint of almost Rhone-like tar, very well integrated now and smooth but with a long life ahead. An easy best of flight (and glad I bought some of this!)

The second flight was served with roasted quail and sweetbreads on a wild mushroom salad.

Beychevelle – quite dark as well, this wine shows a nose of plum and vanilla, was full bodied with good concentration, good length and is quite drinkable now. Excellent effort from a producer that doesn’t always hit the levels of fruit and weight one would like.

Clerc Milon – I tasted this when just in bottle and scratched my head wondering what the future held. It is very dark, with purple notes, and has a very good nose of cedar and currant. Still tannic, and they are what I’d call ‘edgy’ tannins, too hard for easy drinking at this point. Where is it going? It has lots of acid and should continue to develop. Whether the tannins hav enough underlying fruit remains to be seen. Not that bad to drink now with food. Perhaps the biggest Clerc Milon I can recall.

Vieux Chateau Certan – this Pomerol was one of the better efforts from the right bank in a vintage that hit them with torrential rain late in the season. A soft, herbal, friendly nose, smooth sweet entry, at least for a moment before the tannins make themselves felt, it works alright with food now, needs to mellow a bit and I have the impression that it won’t improve with more age. Slightly too little fruit or too much tannin, but all in all, not bad.

With magret de canard on a cassoulet of lentils with foie gras emulsion:

Pape Clement – lighter in both colour and nose, there was some oak evident, and a bit of spice. On palate, medium bodied with pretty good length, the tannins not too hard. Probably slightly better balance over all than the VCC.

Leoville Poyferre – not much happening in the nose, medium colour, the acidity excessive or the fruit too low, a so so wine. Disappointing after the apparent rise to distinction that the 1982 represented, but it was again showing its quality by the 1990 vintage.

Pichon Baron – darker, a bit more fuit in the nose, no tannins to speak of, but good well balanced acidity, drink now.

With grilled venison chop and braised venison shank stuffed in cabbage leaf:

The final flight –

Cos d’Estournel – good nose with ripe fruit and big juicy fruit on palate, tannins softening and very good length. Good wine!

Gruaud Larose – dark wine with very nice bright fruit in the nose and huge fruit in the mouth. Lots of tannins, but they are softening, and great length. A killer Gruaud – and a hard question about when to drink. I would leave it alone for another 5 years before taking another peek, but more impatient owners may plunder away with great enjoyment.

Rausan Segla (now legally able to spell it ‘Rauzan’) – very ripe fruit nose with a hint of anise and treacle, in the mouth, still tannic but the flavours are melding nicely. Needs time. My flight favourite by a narrow margin over the Gruaud.

With dessert:

Rieussec – medium colour, not much amber, and in the nose not a lot of botrytis, mostly oranges. Medium bodied Sauternes, not too sweet, it had good balance with sufficient acidity, and a pleasant lemony note in the finish. Good but not great, and a nice note to end on.

We left out the big guns like Lafite and Mouton as they would just not show well at this (for them) young age, but this tasting was a good survey of the wines that one would expect to be coming ‘on line’.

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