This tasting was a unique opportunity to experience 8 vintages of the reputed, rare and expensive Petrus. As you probably know, with recent inflation of fine wine prices, finding a bottle Pétrus for less than $1000 has become impossible. Recent bottlings go anywhere betwen $1200 and $5000 per bottle. What should we expect from such a «Grand Vin»?
Pétrus is a merlot dominated (95%) wine from the reputed district of Pomerol in the Libournais area of the right bank of Bordeaux.
As a group, the wines in this tasting displayed what should be expected from a highly reputed iconic Bordeaux : consistency ! In fact when paying such high prices for trophy wines, consumers should expect high quality year in- year out, regardless of Mother Nature’s quirkiness. The tasting did confirm the remarkable consistency expected from Petrus, with only two weaker wines, both from extremely difficult years (80 & 87). Unfortunately back in the eighties and early nineties most producers did not benefit from today’s technology and increased knowledge. Today, even in weaker years, Bordeaux producers still manage to produce splendid wines.
@ Les Conseillers du Vin: a group of 16 experienced tasters analysed 8 Petrus wines in the usual blind tasting format. At this point one must remember that wines from the 80’s and early 90’s were not produced with grapes as ripe and concentrated as today’s more recent vintages (2000+). Wines from that era usually offer higher acidity and firmer tannins and tend to be fresher, leaner and more elegant.
Results: To establish the order of preference of the tasting panel, 3 points were awarded to a first place vote, 2 pts for a 2nd place vote and 1pt for a 3rd place vote.
Most of the participants agreed that two wines (80 & 87) were showing more evolution. The group’s favourites were 1989 (32 pts), 1993 (30pts) and 1994 (19pts). In a distant fourth spot, the surprising 1995 with only 9 pts. The two clear cut favourites, 1989 (8 votes) and 1993 (7 votes), shared all first place votes except for one, which was awarded to 1994. It was quite surprising to find two secondary vintages (93 and 94) in the top three. At the end of the tasting, following the unveiling of bottles, it became clear to participants that Petrus is a consistent high quality producer. When wines from secondary years such as 1993 and 1994 rival and even surpass efforts from reputed vintages such as 1989 and 1995, consistency is attained. My top three wines were: 1-1993, 2-1994 3-1995 followed closely by 1989. See my tasting notes below.
The wines : Order of blind tasting:
1-Petrus 1995 (Group score: 9 pts)
Good colour. Forest floor earthy tones, graphite with some berry fruit. Classic Petrus elegance and freshness. Lots of extract and structured tannins remaining. Still a bit firm, should improve over the next 5 to 10 years. My rating: 92+
2-Petrus 1992 (Group score: 7 pts)
Still good colour. Very complex nose exuding forest floor, floral, graphite and animal hints. Good balance and surprising length for 92. Still fresh and structured, but at its peak. My rating: 90
3-Petrus 1994 (Group Score: 19 pts)
My second favourite wine of the tasting. Lovely evolved nose with graphite and forest floor scents. Good balance, lovely elegance and a surprising velvety mouthfeel for 94. Medium bodied, a classic Bordeaux that should remain at its peak for a few (3 to 5) more years. My rating: 93
4-Petrus 1988 (Group score: 5 pts)
Classic evolved nose displaying forest floor scents, graphite and some green pepper often found in 88. Surprising firmness (tannins) enhanced by fresh acidity. Medium body and length. At its peak. A bit disappointing for 88! Should not improve. My rating: 89
5-Petrus 1989 (Group score: 32 pts)
The preferred wine of the tasting. Evolved complex nose: hints of mushrooms, forest floor with graphite/mineral overtones. Some lovely ripe flavours from this hot and dry precocious vintage. Medium to full bodied with firm tannins for more aging (5 to 10 years). A slightly dry austere finish. My rating: 91+?
6-Petrus 1980 (Group score : 0 pts)
Orangy red colour. Showing obvious evolution. Little or no fruit left, stewed prunes. Signs of a declining wine. Still drinkable but a bit thin. My rating: 86
7-Petrus 1993 (Group score: 30 pts)
My favourite wine of the tasting. What a surprising 93, surely the wine of the vintage! Parker’s 2000 comment: «A candidate for most concentrated wine of the vintage…this brawny, splendidly endowed Petrus…should be a 30+ year wine.» The nose displays floral, graphite and terroir scents. Still some extract and structure (tannins) remaining. Superb effort with some time left (4 to 8 years). My rating: 94
8-Petrus 1987 (Group score: 0 pts)
Unfortunately slightly corked and showing obvious signs of evolution. From a very difficult vintage. Thinning out and drying up. Not much pleasure to be had! Should be tried again to confirm its evolution. My rating: 85?