The outstanding reputation of the 90 Bordeaux vintage is a known fact. Wines from both banks are impressive. From the outset the wines displayed lots of ripe fruit with good structure and elegance. Most are drinking well, but some are still showing youthful characteristics. A great vintage, with many success stories. Thirty years later this classic Bordeaux vintage has evolved favourably, and is showing superb complexity. With great balance and elegance, many Châteaux continue to improve.
@ Les Conseillers du Vin, thirty years later, we revisited (for the 4th time!) this classic, mature Bordeaux vintage. To verify the evolution, structure and balance of this fine Bordeaux vintage, a group of 16 experienced tasters analyzed 7 outstanding Chateaux plus a mystery wine in the usual blind tasting format.
Results: Overall the wines faired extremely well! To establish the order of preference of the tasting panel, 3 points were awarded for a first place vote, 2 pts for a 2nd place vote and 1pt for a 3rd place vote.
One wine stood out: wine # 6 Léoville Las Cases with 25 points dominating the field. In second spot, a group of balanced, elegant, flavourful, evolved Chateaux : #8 Ch. Roc de Cambes (15 pts), #2 Montrose (14 pts), # 6 Lynch Bages (13 pts) and # 4 Sociando-Mallet (12 pts) Most of the wines showed great balance, complexity and the obvious elegance of the vintage. Let’s not forget, the quest for rich and extracted wines began in the mid 90’s. It sometimes feels like 1990 is THE last great elegant vintage before the change of style in Bordeaux! Picking riper, and getting more depth and richness, became the new direction.
Other observations/results : 1- only 2 participants identified the mystery wine, 1991 Dunn Napa Cab, which surprisingly received zero votes for the top three. 2- The amazing performance of Ch Roc de Cambes from the modest Cotes de Bourg appellation. Roc de Cambes was crafted by François Mitjavile owner the other family property, the highly reputed Ch Tertre Roteboeuf in St-Émilion. 3- Most of the Merlot dominated wines showed more evolution: Roc de Cambes and Certan de May. 4- Overall the wines were vey charming with great complexity and elegance. No need to rush, many of these finer 1990s will continue to improve. My top three wines were: 1-Sociando-Mallet, 2-Lynch Bages, 3-Montrose.
The wines : Order of blind tasting:
1- Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 Dunn Napa Valley (Group score: 0 pt)
Only two tasters identified it as the mystery wine! Very Bordeaux mineral like nose displaying graphite and humus. A bit on the firm side with obvious acidity. Unfortunately I don’t believe it will get better! My rating: 91?/100
2- Château Montrose, St-Estèphe (Group score: 14 pts)
Really enjoyed this Montrose! Classic Bordeaux nose displaying forest floor and mineral scents with some leftover berry scents. Solid tannins and great balance guarantee more future pleasure (3 to 5 years). Enjoy! My rating: 93/100
3- Château Lynch Bages, Pauillac (Group Score: 13 pts)
A very typical Pauillac displaying scents of graphite, lead pencil, forest floor and a hint of leather. Elegant yet structured and fresh, with enough extract for more favourable aging (5 to 8 years). My rating: 93+/100
4- Château Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Médoc (Group score: 12 pts)
My favourite wine! Just enough extract, great balance and a lovely velvety texture; I’ve always been charmed by this vintage of Sociando. Very deep colour by the way. The seductive nose exhibits floral, earthy, vegetal and animal scents. Still some potential: 4 to 6 years. My rating: 94+/100
5- Château Troplong Mondot, St-Émilion (Group score: 3 pts)
Having tasted this wine a few times, it has not evolved favourably. Could be, a not so good bottle? But the highly extracted Troplong is not coming around/softening. A bit firmer with leftover chocolate/oak scents, needs to be revisited! My rating: 90?/100
6- Château Léoville Las Cases, St-Julien (Group score : 25 pts)
By far, the preferred wine of the tasting. Great colour. Typical Pauillac nose: graphite, forest floor with a hint of bell pepper and blackberries. Very good extract, with a solid structure of slightly firm tannins for more aging potential (3 to 5 years). My rating: 92+/100
7- Château Certan de May, Pomerol (Group score: 11 pts)
Medium bodied, showing some evolution. Complex Bordeaux nose displaying humus, leather with floral and mineral scents. A classic well balanced Bordeaux at its peak. My rating: 90/100
8-Château Roc de Cambes, Côtes de Bourg (Group score: 15 pts)
The surprise of the tasting! This modest Cru from Côtes de Bourg came in second! Back in 1990 François Mitjavile of Tertre Roteboeuf was the owner/winemaker. Today, his son is managing the estate and making the wine. Lovely ripe flavours, charming elegance and good length. Ready to drink. Bravo! My rating: 91/100