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1996 Bordeaux: A blinded trio

August 14, 2019

These are notes from a small blinded tasting organized by Benjamin after hours at his office on 04 July 2019. The theme was 1996 Bordeaux. Each of us, of course, knew what we’d brought but after the bottles were covered with identical socks and shuffled, we became none the wiser.  It was supposed to be a quartet but a 1996 Ch Palmer was unfortunately corked, leaving us with a trio that still provided plenty of intrigue and fun. Many thanks, everyone, for your contributions, especially to Benjamin for the immaculate preparation.

2017 Domaine Faiveley Batard-Bienvenues-Montrachet Grand Cru, courtesy of Benjamin. Cask sample, popped and poured. Effusive in delicate chalkiness underscored by a light creamy presence with  clear citrus some grassy elements, already good early complexity with excellent presence, transparency and definition on a base of graphite minerals. Very well-layered balanced, finishing well. Excellent but way too young.

Red #1. Darkly coloured. Distant aromas of sweet red fruits and currants, displaying an even richness on the medium-bodied palate. Fleshed out with attractive acidity and smoked characters with a tinge of dryness and burnt coal, just a tad short as it finished with ground minerals. A 1996 Clos du Marquis, courtesy of Benoit.

Red #2. Deeply coloured and savoury with a dominance of delicious dark currants and mocha on the nose, highly inviting. Quite full and fleshy, more minerally at first before giving way to dark plums and dark cherries with a bit of racy intensity, distinctly savoury and meaty amid traces of bellpepper though rather understated in acidity and finish. I thought a Saint-Emilion – perhaps a Tertre Roteboeuf – when, in fact, it was the 1996 Château Pontet-Canet that I’d brought. Most unusual, as I could not discern any of the expected Pauillac dryness.

Red #3. Raspberries, dark and red currants dominate on the nose with sweet delicious overtones. The palate was tinged with a touch of dryness amidst an abundance of earthy ferrous minerals that recalled cordite, concentrated in dark fruits with a certain sternness, turning more velvety with some lovely juicy sweetness as it gained further depth and intensity. Utterly delicious. Clearly not from the Left Bank. Kind of difficult to place, perhaps Pomerol. I thought it was La Conseillante. Instead, it was a 1996 Château Ausone….what a surprise! Merci Damien!

After the Bordeaux trio had been unblinded, Benjamin threw in a mystery red, tasted blind. The bottle shape gave it away as a Burgundy. Popped and poured, exuding a distinct earthy pungency on the nose, not unlike egg yolk. Some evolution has taken place, the wine delectably open, fleshy and highly supple with delicious red fruits and cherries that exude wonderful freshness and lift, very subtly structured with a deep core of tangerines that oozed with lovely sweetness. Carried great vigour and optimism all through to its minerally finish. All of us got it correctly: a 1996 Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches Rouge 1er. Excellent.


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