Wines of the year (2) older vintages

bordeaux burgundy northern rhone

Wines of the year (2) older vintages

So, continuing with my theme of wines of the year, I have gone through my notes and pulled out the highlights. This post is concentrating on older wines, pre-2000. I’m well aware that this list looks like a bit of a boast. I apologise. I make an effort to benchmark with established classics and older vintages, because as a wine writer, you need reference points. Since I started writing about wine some of the classics have become ever more expensive, to the point where I can’t justify buying them. For this reason, I’m indebted to friends with cellars who generously share older bottles, and also to producers who pull out older wines when I visit. Most of these wines have been drunk and not just tasted, which is the way it should be. The wines are grouped by region, but are in no particular order.

Chateau Latour

Château Lynch Bages 1981 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
This is truly thrilling. Forget about 1982: on the evidence of this bottle I’m going to be seeking out 1981s Fresh, elegant and aromatic with lovely blackcurrant and black cherry fruit along with some pine and herb characters. Really elegant palate with supple, sappy black fruits. Such a fine wine, with floral black cherry notes and potential for further development. I love the hints of pine, and the slight saltiness on the palate. This is thrilling. 97/100

Vieux Château Certan 1985 Pomerol, Bordeaux
Very fine and elegant with fresh red cherry and plum fruit, as well as fine black cherries. Lovely finesse here with real elegance. It’s a Burgundian Bordeaux. So fine. 97/100

Château Latour 1982 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Such a beautiful nose. Perfumed cherries, blackcurrant, chalk, minerals. The palate is almost perfect: light and expressive, showing elegance yet with good structure beautifully woven into the fine cherry and plum fruit. There’s also a chalky, mineral dimension. Shows almost perfect harmony, with the meeting of youth and maturity in a beautiful place. Still lots of fruit but developing nicely. No hurry to drink this. 98/100 

Château Latour 1978 Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Developed but still has plenty life left in it. Expressive, fine, spicy nose with some smooth chalky notes. Fine grained black cherry and plum fruit. Shows developed finesse. 95/100


Château La Tour Haut Brion 1982 Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France
Mellow, smooth and textural with sweet blackcurrant and blackberry fruit. Smooth, broad and rich with lovely depth. Fresh, silky, pure and still with some primary fruit. Fine herbs and nice spiciness add complexity. 96/100


Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2007 Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France
Taut grapefruit and lemons with nice spice, and well integrated oak. Linear and focused with real purity and some subtle waxiness. So lovely. 95/100

Château Montrose 1989 Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux, France
Smooth, broad and beautifully textured, showing blackcurrant, some red cherry and a fine spicy core. This is quite lovely: it’s showing some development, but is ageing really well. 96/100

Château Beychevelle 1966 Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France
Earthy, spicy and leathery with some development, but also freshness. Iodine, blood, cherries and undergrowth, with sweetness and texture to the fruit. Lovely older wine. 96/100




De Vogüé Bonnes Mares 1969 Burgundy, France
This is spectacular. Decanted, and chilled down a little, this is a Wine Society bottling, but it was bottled at France, so I’m assuming it was domaine bottled. It’s fresh and bright, with a hint of malty richness on the nose but a pristine, silky palate. The texture is amazing: it’s rich and seamless with elegance meeting power, and the softest structure. Sweet black cherries and plums underpinned by smooth, fine-grained tannins. Ethereal, and 1969 isn’t supposed to be a great year. 97/100

Raveneau Butteaux Chablis 1er Cru 1999 Burgundy, France
Beautifully elegant nose, with citrus, grapefruit, subtle dairy notes and some pear richness. The palate is pure, texture and shows lovely citrus fruit that’s both rounded and linear at the same time. Very fresh for its age and showing lovely development, with a long time still to go. So fine. 95/100

Jacques Frederic Mugnier Bonnes Mares Grand Cru 1990 Burgundy, France
Textured, fine and expressive with real elegance to the sweet black cherry and plum fruit. There are some sweet herbal characters and fine-grained tannins. So supple with a ripe, generous personality and nice depth. 95/100

dujac morey st denis

Domaine Dujac Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru Monts Luisants 2011 Burgundy, France
Remarkable: really intense and mineral with a lovely matchstick edge. Intense, focused citrus and pear fruit with a linear personality and real finesse, as well as some briny, salty notes. 96/100




Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie 1999 Northern Rhône, France
(Tasted three times with consistent notes.) This is stunning, and still so fresh. Fine, expressive and meaty with notes of iron and blood as well as black cherries and plums. This is so fine and expressive with lovely citrussy acidity, some iodine and some herbs. 97/100

Dervieux Thaize Côte Rôtie La Vallière 1989 Northern Rhône, France
This was the last vintage of Albert Dervieux before he retired and leased all his vines to Rene Rostaing. This, his top cuvée, comes from the top of the Côte Brune, and it has aged beautifully. Long elevage in large old oak. Pristine and pure with lovely raspberry and cherry fruit, as well as some plumminess. Very expressive and detailed with lovely fruit expression and fine-grained tannins. There’s some pepper and even a hint of olive. So elegant: quite Burgundian in style. This is a really lovely wine. 95/100

Dervieux Thaize Côte Rôtie Côte Blonde ‘La Garde’ 1988 Northern Rhône, France
Beautifully perfumed with fine black cherries, olives and meat, as well as some black pepper. Beautifully aromatic with a lovely palate showing ripe cherry and blackberry frit with iodine, salt, pepper and minerals. 97/100


Chave Hermitage 1988 Northern Rhöne, France
This bottle was pretty much perfect. In beautiful condition and still a deep, primary colour. Lovely detailed black cherries, spice, tar, pepper and meat notes, as well as some tea leaves and citrus peel. It is fresh and light, but rich at the same time. Complex, and drinking so well now, but no need to rush to drink up. 97/100

Chave Hermitage Blanc 1990 Northern Rhône, France
Powerful, intense and complex with lemons, spice, white peach. Textural with some grapefruit pith, wax and nuts. This powerful white Rhône is quite profound. 96/100

Chave Hermitage 1995 Northern Rhone, France
(Tasted twice with consistent notes and the same score.) Iron, blood, fresh red cherries and herbs on the nose. The palate shows iodine, spices, red cherries and plums. So intense with amazing fruit considering its age. Notes of cloves and pepper tell of its origins, and there’s real purity and definition here. Lovely wine. 96/100

Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1978 Northern Rhône, France
Spicy, peppery, bloody nose is highly aromatic. Still taut and focused. The palate shows amazing elegance and freshness, with lovely power and elegance combined. Cherries, plums, herbs and a bit of warmth, this is linear and focused and just beautiful. 97/100

Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1990 Northern Rhône, France
Lovely density, with sweet, rich, textured black cherry and blackberry fruit. Smooth and fine with a lovely silky texture and nice finesse. Very stylish. 95/100

verset cornas

Noel Verset Cornas 1999 Northern Rhône, France
(Drunk twice with consistent notes.) Iron, meat, blood and spice here with attractive black cherry fruit. Detailed, spicy and rich with fine red cherries, plums and real finesse. Still very lively and fresh. 96/100




Cotat Chavignol La Grande Côte Sancerre 1989 Loire, France
This is amazing for a 26 year old Sauvignon Blanc. Lovely texture and freshness with spice, nuts and warm, sweet pear and ripe apple fruit. There’s also some grapefruit. There are also sweet marmalade notes and a bit of apricot. Powerful yet still fresh with nice texture and real focus and complexity. There are even some cabbage hints. Utterly brilliant. 95/100

Valentini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1992 Italy
Sweet, elegant cherry and plum fruit with fine black cherry and spice notes. Warm and elegant with lovely spiciness and intensity, as well as smooth sweet black fruits. 95/100 

Jean Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte du Py 1995 Beaujolais, France
Floral and expressive with a hint of malt and iodine. Subtle herb and mushroom notes with red cherries and plums. Detailed with amazing focus and a bit of grip. Fine, with a hint of damson. Amazing wine: so wonderful and expressive. 95/100

Blandy’s Verdelho 1887 Madeira, Portugal
Bottled in 2013 after a long time in demijohn, following lots of time in barrel. Very citrussy and intense with marmalade, lemon peel and treacle notes, as well as some old furniture. Astonishing acidity here, and incredible length. A tiny sip goes a long way: the finish is eternal. 97/100

La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 1982 Rioja, Spain
Superbly elegant and fine with silky, textured herb, spice and cherry notes. Lively and rounded at the same time with nice finesse and notes of iodine, cherries and blood. Ageing really beautifully. 96/100

Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay 1959 Rioja, Spain
Sweet and seductive with lovely rounded berry fruits. Smooth and pure. Floral with a hint of meatiness and lovely elegance on the palate, with a touch of citrus peel freshness and fine cherry fruit. Such elegance here, with beautiful finesse. Very fine and detailed with good acidity. 97/100

Heitz Marthas Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 Oakville, Napa Valley, California
Highly aromatic. Sweet and warmly spiced with nutmeg and fine cherries. So supple on the palate with pure, balanced cherry and plum fruit characters. Elegant with a lovely stony, spicy edge. Beautiful, pure and expressive with subtle green minty notes on the finish. 96/100


Casa Agricola Jose de Sousa Rosado Fernandez Tinto Velho 1945 Reguengos, Alentejo, Portugal
Lovely black cherry and blackberry fruit with an appealing savoury core. Dense, mineral, grainy and spicy with olives and herbs, as well as expressive, pure black fruits. Complex with lovely weight, this has aged beautifully. Breathtaking. 97/100

EMA Viera Pereira Vinho Velho da Madeira 1890 Madeira, Portugal
This was bottled in 1989. Deep red/brown colour. Cherries, spice, treacle and nuts with lively citrus peel notes. Waxy, tarry and quite savoury. Intense with direct acidity. So harmonious, and sweet and savoury at the same time. 96/100

Marquis de Boaca Rivesaltes Vin Doux Naturel 1955 Roussillon, France
Bottled in 2014. Orange/brown colour. Complex aromatic nose with nuts, pears and spice as well as some raisin and orange peel. So complex and powerful. Lively with high acidity, citrus notes and some old casks. Lovely complexity here. 97/100

KWV port

KWV Muscadel LBV Bin B14 1930 Boberg, South Africa
Super complex and raisiny. Spicy and very detailed. Viscous and intense with just a hint of treacle and some cask notes. Really intense and complex, and mouthfilling and fine. 96/100

Hugel Riesling Vendange Tardive 1945 Alsace, France
Deep colour. Very old yet so fresh with nice weight and notes of lemons, mint, spice and herbs, as well as pretty floral notes. So pretty, with lovely complexity, finesse and precision, and some sweetness to. A remarkable wine. 96/100

Valdespino Cardenal Palo Cortado VORS Sherry/Jerez, Spain
Around 50 years old, from the solera of the Palo Cortado Viejo CP. Rich and intense with bold, spicy, raisiny, cedary characters. It has amazing aromatic complexity with sandalwood and old cabinets, as well as a hint of raisin and some porcini mushroom. The palate is broad, rich and intense with a savoury, grippy earthy edge and dusty spiciness. Amazing complexity to this wine, with so many layers of flavour, and a dry, dusty, tangy finish, with some orange peel and leather notes lingering on. 97/100

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