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1996 Léoville Las-Cases, 1998 L’Eglise-Clinet

November 10, 2021

The vintage of 1996 for Left Bank Bordeaux is what 1998 was for the Right Bank. Moderate temperatures during the 1996 growing season bode well for the region until heavy rains struck in August, drenching most of the Right Bank and Margaux but leaving much of the Left Bank unscathed, which benefitted much from a subsequent warm dry September that helped to ripen the grapes optimally. On the other hand, a severe hail storm in August 1998 in the Right Bank forced vignerons to green harvest extensively, which reaped handsome rewards from the following September sun that helped to concentrate the grapes. More importantly, estates in Pomerol and Saint-Émilion had completed harvesting before torrential rains in the last week of September washed out much of the Médoc. A nice theme, therefore, would be to drink a 1996 Left alongside a 1998 Right, which was what we did at the Tanglin Club, Singapore, on 01 November 2021. Both bottles were popped and poured.

20211101_211657.jpg1998 Château L’Eglise-Clinet, courtesy of Vic. Deep purple. Full, stunning bouquet of black currants, ripe dark berries and bright cherries amid overtones of leather and cedar. Medium-full. Clearly more forward in fruit balance but such is its glorious abundance. Silky smooth, rounded and vibrant, imbued with lively acidity within a lovely svelte tannin structure, evolving towards even greater refinement with further notes of plums and complex red fruits. Still seemingly youthful, probably just entering its peak drinking period. Great stuff.

1996 Château Léoville Las-Cases. Deep purple, opening with a high tone of mature plums with a bit of pointed earthiness on the nose in stark contrast to its relaxed backward demeanour on the palate, proffering good clarity. It fleshed out quite rapidly with greater weight and silky intensity, developing lovely tone with overtones of seasoned oak and tobacco. At its drinking peak and will hold. Excellent.

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