Seattle Tasting Group does 1990 Bordeaux

Woodinville, WA, USA
Tasted Sunday, June 22, 2003 by Eric with 1,169 views

Introduction

The Seattle Tasting Group met for our 6th session this year with a theme of 1990 Bordeaux Reds. Special thanks to Scott Thornber for hosting a wonderful afternoon/evening, for a delicious tenderloin in a remarkable morel sauce, and for the pleasure of watching you nearly singe off three pairs of eyebrows while finishing off a heavenly creme brulee with a pipe-fitting torch!?!? (Remember what we learned about spitting in STG #1?)

Thanks also to Patrick Halstead for tabulating the group averages. The notes below are my personal impressions of the wine, and the rest of the group should chime in with their thoughts. Anyway, onto the notes. (As always, tasting was blind, and we bagged on site with uniform bags so it would be tougher to pick out our own wines.)

Flight 1 - WHITE FLIGHT (3 Notes)

  • 1997 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc 84 Points

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley

    Group average 88 points. A reserved nose with a touch of honeysuckle, maybe some volatile acidity lurking. This has a silky texture yet is also tart & perky. The finish is rainwater, pleasant, simple and clean. Others liked it more than me, as I found it somewhat flat and uninteresting.

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  • 1998 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 83 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    Group average 86.5 points. This is deep golden with gobs of butter on the nose, loads of oak. The best aspect of this wine is that it was really supple with a nice mouthfeel,a nd I even detected some clean lemon hiding amidst that sea of oak. The finish is tart and clipped. For me the oak was too overhwleming. Maybe in 10 years this would be resolved and more interesting. I was the low rater in the group.

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  • 1998 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux Blanc 86 Points

    France, Bordeaux

    Group average 85.125. This has an odd nose of peach and lighter-fluid that for some reason I found intriguing. This is very silky on the palate with a tart, somewhat green finish.

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Flight 2 - 1990 BORDEAUX REDS (13 Notes)

  • 2000 Château Lynch-Bages 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Group average 90.75 points. As a ringer I brought a 375ml of this which had been decanted for 24 hours. Stunning purple. Smoke, tobacco and tons of oak on the nose. The palate is creamy, nothing like it had been 18 hours earlier. This continues to be huge, heavily extracted, loads of flavors, amazingly primary right now. This will be a fun wine in 10 years!

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  • 1990 Château Pape Clément 86 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    Group average 89.375. For some reason I struggled with this wine, perhaps while my palate was adjusting to the start of the tasting. This showed mature color with classic dusty, earthy, forest floor, cassis and perhaps some wet dog and signs of being oxidized hiding in there. This had a silky entry with cedar and mushroom on the palate, but I found this to be burnt, acidic, and over the hill. It seemed to me as if the wine were cooked. Perhaps it was in fact just closed, as Laurent said it was bursting when initially decanted, and it did show signs of improving in the glass.

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  • 1990 Château Lagrange (St. Julien) 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Group average 90.25. Giddy up! This was a controversial wine showing some intense barnyard/horsiness. In addition to the brett there was smoke and lead pencil with a black, brooding nose that really grows on you as the funk blows off. There wasn't much fruit to be found on this right now, but it was a searing, tight, brooding monster with a long finish, and I loved it!

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  • 1990 Château Troplong Mondot 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Group average 92 points. I thought for sure this was a California wine. It was floral with cocoa and a slightly off-putting creamy latex thing on the nose. Clearly a different beast from its peers. On the palate this showed incredible structure, sweetness and penetrating depth with a stupendous finish. Great wine albeit very, very different from what I am used to in Bordeaux!

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  • 1990 Château Léoville Las Cases

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    Laurent brought two of these in 375ml. The first was NR and seemed badly oxidized. It was briefly alive in the glass showing beautiful, floral and lead pencil notes, but then it died in the glass in a matter of moments. NR

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  • 1990 Château Mouton Rothschild 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Group average of 90.5 points. This is sauvage, medicinal, and scorched with a slight hint of barnyard. This is very closed with a tight core of red fruit and many layers of brooding, smoky, black fruit, scorched earth and a hint of menthol. The finish is supercharged, endless. I think this has potential to give a lot more, but for now it was pretty dark and closed. Or maybe the fruit will never come out?

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  • 1990 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 94 Points

    USA, California, Napa Valley

    Group average 93.75 points, WOTN. My bottle. This was a ringer which I brought to see if people would pick out a CA-1990 from the crowd of Bordeaux. To me this was a dead giveaway due to a minty, plummy, uniquely Napa nose. The palate had a stunningly sweet entry, layers of creme de cassis. This is pure, gorgeous, and largely resolved although it still does show a hint of dusty tannin on the finish. Simply gorgeous! (I forgot to mention to the group that when I opened this bottle the cork quite literally crumbled into sawdust. The cork was dry throughout but had fused to the bottle, and the opener pulled stright through the middle. I had to scrape the cork out of the neck with a paring knife, and then there was so much cork dust in the wine I had to strain the whole thing through cheesecloth. And after all that, the wine was clearly very much intact, go figure?!?)

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  • 1990 Château La Dominique 80 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Group average of 84.625. This had a reticent nose with some hints of latex paint. The mid-palate is smooth, not much fruit. The finish is clipped yet searing and acidic. The wine seems quite cooked.

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  • 1990 Château Cheval Blanc 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    Group average 92.375 and #2 WOTN. Dustiness with not much on the nose at first. With time a certain medicinal element comes out, and this seems to be gaining a great deal in the glass. On the palate this has surprising sweetness with an earthy, smoky element. My notes says I found this to be a bit thin yet still beautiful and balanced. I found the finish to be medium yet pretty. All in all, the wine underwhelmed me with the component parts, yet somehow it held together in a remarkably balanced and elegant way. This is why I love blind tasting--had I known what it was surely I would have rated it higher. A number of other tasters suggested that this improved quite dramatically in the glass after we moved on to other flights.

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  • 1990 Château La Mission Haut-Brion 95 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    Group average of 92 points. This was my personal co-WOTN with the 1990 Sociando Mallet. I found this to be smokey, earthy, with cedar, lead pencil and beautiful complexity. The palate showed amazing depth, spice, and smokiness, all wrapped up in a dusty, silky exterior. The finish is beautiful and powerful at the same. Gorgeous bottle!

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  • 1990 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    Group average is 92.25 points, #3 WOTN. My bottle. A nose of smoky fennel with a variety of herbal notes. This has an amazing body, intense, vibrant, packed with glycerin, powerful tannins, gaining sweetness in the glass. The finish is gorgeous, lengthy, and powerful.

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  • 1990 Château Sociando-Mallet 95 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc

    Group average of 91. This was my co-WOTN with the 1990 La Mission Haut Brion. Remarkably youthful in color. This shows very prominent tobacco notes with hints of mint and other herbs. It has a sweet entry with a hint of menthol and simply amazing power on the finish. My notes were thin by this point, but I loved this wine!

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  • 1990 Château Léoville Las Cases 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    This was Laurent's second bottle and was much better than the first. However, this still showed quite differently from the two others times I have had this wine. This bottle had a group rating of 90.25. Very floral with a remarkably sweet palate, very much open for business with a medium finish. My notes were thin by this point of the tasting, but it was a classy, enjoyable wine. Not a great bottle though.

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Flight 3 - DESSERT FLIGHT (5 Notes)

  • 2000 René Renou Bonnezeaux Cuvée Zenith 89 Points

    France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Bonnezeaux

    Group average 87. Honey, botrytis, lemon. Nice entry. Syrupy, simple and clean. Really darned nice with creme brulee.

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  • 1990 Château d'Yquem 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Group average 89.875. Smoke, butter and plastic on the nose. This starts to get explosive with more time in the glass and a few more degrees, the finish gaining some intensity and magic. As a whole, the group was underwhelmed, and we probably drank this 20-30 years early.

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  • 1990 Château Suduiraut 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Group average 90.375 points and dessert WOTN. Deep amber, perhaps prematurely. Vanilla bean and brown sugar with some banana. This has an explosive palate with a gorgeous caramel element to it. Very enjoyable dessert wine.

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  • 1986 Château Guiraud 80 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Group average of 85.25. A strong plasticene and band-aid element ruined this for me. It has s sharp entry and a bitterness on the palate with a distinct burned rubber note. Yeck!

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  • 1990 Château Rieussec 86 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes

    Group average 89.375. This could have been a wonderful dessert wine, but for me there was a streak of dirty ashtray that I couldn't shake, and it ruined the wine for me. There were some lovely notes of honey butter and marmalade on burned toast. What was amazing about this was the unctuous, syrupy texture. Really nice.

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Closing

Thanks again for a wonderful tasting! Until the next, cheers!

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