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1990 Ch Lagrange

December 22, 2010

Ch Lagrange appears to suffer from an image problem. In spite of its consistent quality, befitting its status as a Third Growth in St-Julien, connoisseurs tend to pooh-pooh this estate. Perhaps part of the problem lies in it being successful only from the late 80s onward. Prior to being bought over by Suntory in 1983, its wines were mediocre, missing out on 1982, the key vintage upon which many estates forged their reputation, and wine snobs do not forget easily. Another reason, perhaps, is because it is priced too keenly in relation to quality? Somehow, there is a certain irrational mentality that only expensive wines are good, which would mean Lagrange doesn’t qualify.

But for those who recognise a top drop, Lagrange is seriously good, almost great occasionally. One such example is the 1990 which I had this evening, 21 Dec 2010, over an excellent fillet mignon at Prive, Keppel Marina, with the wifey and son. Double-decanted for over an hour, the wine, dull red in color, contained a certain mustiness on the nose amidst other notes of old leather, dried leaves and cassis. This blew off after 20 minutes to reveal flavours of blueberries and other darker fruits that tasted remarkably fresh and full. Following a gentle entry, the palate is held in a firm grip by a wine that became increasing full-bodied, seamlessly homogenous, revealing excellent depth and concentration of fruit with complex tertiary flavours capable only from mature claret, framed by mouth-puckering tannins that grew in intensity over time, imparting an accentuated glowing finish. In fact, if tasted blind, I’d have thought this was a Pauillac, for it reminded me very much of a 1988 Ch Pichon Lalande, albeit with greater masculinity. Very lovely.

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