When it comes to fine reds that offer richness and elegance, for the past few centuries, Bordeaux stood alone at the top! But since the famous 1976 Paris blind tasting of Napa Valley reds versus Crus Classés from Bordeaux, the surprising results have modified many experts and afficionado’s opinion. Since, lots has changed, the evolution of the Bordeaux style paired with the amazing results from hard working and determined Napa Valley producers annouces a fierce competition.
This tasting was a unique opportunity to compare Cabernet Sauvignon based reds from Napa Valley to Haut-Médoc Crus Classés from Bordeaux.
@ Les Conseillers du Vin: in the usual blind tasting format, a group of 16 experienced tasters evaluated and compared four (4) high quality vintages of Napa Valley Cabs to four (4) Bordeaux Crus Classés.
Results: 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.
Favourite wines of the tasting:
The group’s favourite wine was Artistry Meritage 2005 from Girard with 26 pts. Not far behind in second spot, 1990 Beringer Private Reserve Cab with 23 pts. Tied for third with 13 points each : 1995 Conn Valley Reserve and Château Léoville Las Cases 1990. The participants also had to vote for their favourite wine in all four pairs. California also dominated in the head to head competition with all four (4) preferred wines being from Napa Valley. Finishing last was Château Haut Bages Libéral with only two points.
My three favourite wines were : 1- Breringer Private Reserve 1990, 2- Château Léoville Las Cases 1990 3- Girard Artistry Meritage 2005
The wines : Order of blind tasting with my tasting notes
1-Cabernet Sauvignon Stag’s Leap 1999 Robert Mondavi (Group score: 10 pts)
Still deeply coloured. Charming floral, earthy nose. Quite full with surprising fresh acidity. Well balanced, ready for drinking with some remaining potential (2 to 3 years). My rating: 91/100
2-Château Léoville Barton 1999 St-Julien (Group score: 5 pts)
A bit cloudy. Complex evolved nose displaying animal, earthy and leathery scents. Showing some evolution, medium bodied, high acid with a slight austere finish. Drink up! My rating: 90/100
3-Château Léoville Las Cases 1990 St-Julien (Group Score: 13 pts)
Beautifully evolved nose: mineral, vegetal, floral and earthy tones. From a classic Bordeaux vintage: surprisingly fresh, medium weight, at its peak. Drink up! Lovely elegant wine. My rating: 93/100
4-Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1990 Beringer (Group score: 23 pts)
My favourite wine of the tasting. Floral, vegetal, mineral/graphite nose. Still plenty of fruit, with surprising (remaining) structure (tannins). Quite full and lengthy. Will evolve favourably 3 to 5 years. My rating: 94/100
5-Château Kirwan 1995 Margaux (Group score: 4 pts)
Forest floor, graphite and floral hints. Good structure, medium weight with some remaining fruit. Could still improve over the next 2 to 4 years. My rating: 91/100
6-Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1995 Conn Valley Vineyards (Group score : 13 pts)
Odd nose, maybe an off bottle? Showing evolution: high acid, a bit firm with a rather austere finish. For the fan of more evolved cabs. My rating: 89/100
7-Artistry Meritage 2005 Girard (Group score: 26 pts)
The favourite wine of the tasting. Deeply coloured. Dark berry nose with hints of oak. Full bodied with good extract and structure. Very good aging potential (4 to 6 years). An excellent, typical, California Cab blend. My rating: 92/100
8-Château Haut Bages Libéral 2005 Pauillac (Group score: 2 pts)
Deeply coloured. High acid, firm tannins, quite typical of the vintage. A bit austere, might need more time. Medium/full bodied, a classic Bordeaux that should improve with a few more years of aging (3 to 5 years). My rating: 90/100
Photo: Nick Hamilton