Home > Bordeaux, France > Mini vertical of Chateau Lagrange St-Julien: 1994 and 1995

Mini vertical of Chateau Lagrange St-Julien: 1994 and 1995

Had dinner last night at a friend’s house involved in the wine business and I was surprised by his statement that the vast majority of Romanian wine drinkers do not like older wines and prefer young and fruit driven ones. It is a pity that people do not try to discover the complexities of an aged wine. It is true that one can have bad surprises with wines when they seldom past their best, but it is equally true that a well aged one can bring a lot of emotions. The best strategy when choosing an older bottle of wine is to do some research online and see what other people that recently had that wine are saying. After all, money does not grow in trees and one has to pay when purchasing such an older bottle.

We had this conversation in the context of serving two older vintages from a classic Saint Julien producer. 1994 was the first vintage in the early ’90s considered to bring back optimism after 3 consecutive disastrous vintages: 1991, 1992 and 1993.

In 1994 conditions looked highly promising by early September, and then from September 7 the rain began and continued for most of the month. Fortunately temperatures were fairly cool and there was little rot, but the wet weather did cause some dilution. Growers did not delay the harvest, as the grapes, especially Merlot, were as ripe as they were going to get, and there was nothing to be gained by waiting. The red wines turned out to be dark, quite rich and tannic.

Then came the glorious 1995 that confirmed the quality.

Some critics declared themselves unimpressed by 1995, but with time it has become clear that this is easily the best vintage since 1990, and the best wines are evolving slowly but impressively. They will be long-lived.

Chateau Lagrange is owned by the Japanese Suntory group together with Chateau Beychevelle.

Both bottles had healthy and long corks with very limited soaking, so there is really no rush to open these wines from this perspective. The uncorking was easy and there were no unpleasant surprises struggling to take them out in one piece. How are the two Lagrange wines tonight ?

1995 Chateau Lagrange St-Julien

Youthful dark red garnet color with really no signs of aging. Shy and closed on the nose when initially opened, this wine expands its aromatics by the minute, being fully opened after 1-2 hours. Well developed and maturing nose, intense, with generous aromas of smoke, dried red paprika, coffee bean, cedar, gamey undertones and still plenty of cranberries and black currant fruit. It successfully preserves a sweet and spicy nose. Full bodied and supple on the palate, this is classic aged St-Julien. Well structured and balanced, with smooth and ripe tannins, the wine shows red fruit mixed with coffee and pencil shavings on the palate. After 2 hours, the Cabernet Sauvignon typical aromas of black currant and green bell pepper dominate the stage. Medium plus finish with good freshness and an espresso like flavor. 12.5% alc (90-91/100)

1994 Chateau Lagrange St-Julien

Dark ruby red color with a certain brick tone at the rim. Completely closed,charmless and thin on the palate initially. I was actually fearing that the wine is dead when I tasted it just after uncorking. After 1-2 hours the wine changed dramatically. The nose is fully mature, with very little red fruit left and dominated by aromas of coffee bean, tobacco, forest floor and cedar. Medium bodied and rather watery on the palate, it certainly lacks the density and the charm of the 1995. The tannins are rather aggressive, especially on the finish, while the maturing flavors and the very little red fruit that it is still left on the palate is not able to harmoniously balance the abrasive tannins structure. Medium and drying finish. 12.5% (86-87/100)

The 1994 requires very fat food in order for those tannins to feel smoother. I guess tonight the pair of wines was like Two Face.

Categories: Bordeaux, France
  1. April 19, 2012 at 13:42

    Ehh, macar Lagrange inca se da la pretrui rezonabile🙂

    • April 19, 2012 at 13:43

      Asa este si chiar merita anii consacrati. Vinurile sunt foarte bune.

  2. April 19, 2012 at 13:47

    Yep, mai ales din ’89 incoace, cand Lagrange si-a inceput revirimentul

  3. April 19, 2012 at 18:17

    Nu doar majoritatea bautorilor de vin de pe la noi nu apreciaza vinurile mature, ci si destui dintre cei pasionati de vin. Din pacate e in special o chestie de expunere: dupa ce te-ai “format” cu “tinerele” e mai greu sa apreciezi subtilitatile unui vin matur – iar pe la noi nici nu e asa usor sa cumperi asa ceva la preturi rezonabile. Insa in timp probabil ca lucrurile se vor schimba, macar in privinta pasionatilor, datorita binefacerilor comertului online.🙂

    • April 19, 2012 at 18:29

      Ai si tu dreptate Sorin, cred ca este nevoie de o deschidere si o curiozitate mai mare pentru a merge pe drumul vinurilor mature, cu asumarea potentialelor esecuri cand intalnesti un vin obosit si trecut demult. Liberalizarea pietei este cheia succesului si calea spre progres🙂.

      E drept ca si fructul este irezistibil de cele mai multe ori, dar din cand in cand merge si altceva.😉

      As aprecia daca ai posta aici ce vinuri mature te-au impresionat pe tine de-a lungul “carierei” tale de iubitor de vin.

      La fel lansez provocarea si altor cititori sa posteze ce vinuri mai vechi si poate mai mature au intalnit si au fost impresionati.

      Multumesc anticipat,
      Cosmin

  4. April 19, 2012 at 18:38

    Cosmin, intre noi cam stim prea bine ce ne-a impresionat pana acum🙂 Asteptam parerile altora🙂

    • April 19, 2012 at 18:42

      Ciprian la tine stiu foarte bine ce ai baut ca am citit tot ce ai postat. Oricum ar fi interesant sa postezi totusi si tu 2-6 vinuri sau poate mai multe care ti-au placut in mod special, macar facem o lista cu ce e inca bun de baut si merita achizionat.🙂

  5. April 19, 2012 at 19:52

    Pai ok, sa vedem🙂 Cu mentiunea ca pe unele le stii si tu🙂

    Lafon Rochet ’88 – inca in putere cand l-am incercat; de fapt, din ce am citit, cred ca ’88 abia incepe sa intre pe platoul de consum; o comparatie ar putea fi facuta cu ’95 ca stil (clasic)

    La Tour Figeac ’70 – ai vazut si tu in ca hal s-a prezentat dupa 41 de ani

    Giscours ’81 – Margaux clasic

    Vina Ardanza La Rioja Alta ’89 – l-a batut la fund din toate pozitiile pe Ygay🙂

    Lagrange ’89 – inca tanar, din pmdv abia la inceputul apogeului

    Rayne Vigneau 2000 – ohh, acea aciditate minunata, mai ales dupa ce incercasem si Sirena Dunarii inainte😀

    Larrivet Haut Brion ’85 – tipicitate cat cuprinde

    Grand Mayne ’86 – impresionant pt un an atat de prost in St. Emilion

    La Pialade 2003 – un vin care pun pariu ca li s-ar parea ciudat multora; easy, light, dar cu o concentratie a fructului incredibila; Rayas e tata lor🙂

    Haut-Bailly ’81 – inca viu, tutun din toate directiile, feminin, elegant…

    La capitolul dezamagiri nominalizez deocamdata doar 2 spaniole cu pedigree: Ygay ’89 si Alion Reserva ’98 – ma asteptam mai mult tinand cont de numele din spatele lui, adica Vega Sicilia

    • April 19, 2012 at 19:55

      Ms mult Ciprian pentru comentariul mai mult decar generos si explicatii despre fiecare vin in parte. Intr-adevar sunt cateva pe care le-am incercat impreuna si le-am gasit exact cum ai mentionat si tu.

      Pastram lista deschisa inca😉

  6. April 19, 2012 at 19:54

    Ahh, uitam cel mai bun vin alb din viata mea, de pana acum: Vina Tondonia Reserva ’91😀

    • April 19, 2012 at 19:57

      Nu am stiut ca te-a impresionat Tondonia Reserva ’91 atat de mult. Desi l-am baut impreuna la aceeasi masa eu cred ca nu am fost la fel de atent ca tine la subtilitatile lui. Neatentia si pierderea mea.

      O sa incerc sa procur o astfel de sticla cand se mai iveste ocazia, pana acum sincer nu am vazut pe niciunde. Las radarul deschis🙂

  7. April 19, 2012 at 20:00

    Cosmin, pai la inceput nu a fost cine stie ce🙂 Dar eu si cu Mona am facut un experiment cu el: am pastrat cate ceva intr-un pahar si l-am urmarit toata seara. Ce a urmat a fost incredibil: vinul asta e cel mai cameleonic pe care l-am intalnit, de fiecare data cand duceam paharul la nas, mirosea a altceva. A reactionat exact ca un vin rosu. Nu mai stiu daca il au chiar pe asta, dar cateva vinuri de la Heredia le poti gasi pe decantalo.com. Au si preturi excelente

    • April 19, 2012 at 20:02

      la decantalo au doar vinuri tinere din pacate, nu prea se incadreaza in topicul nostru😦

  8. April 19, 2012 at 20:11

    Deci fii atent ce am gasit mai interesant pe decantalo🙂

    Ygay 2001
    Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 1998
    Imperial Grand Reserva 1999 – acum la oferta 25 Euro
    Vina Tondonia Reserva 2001 (rosu) – vreo 18 euro
    Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial 2001
    Tondonia Reserva Blanco 1997 – vreo 19 euro
    Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosado 2000 – vinul care i-a dat gata si pe Oliver si pe Sorin – la incredibilul pret de 11 euro :))

    • April 19, 2012 at 20:15

      Ygay 2001 – am acasa cateva sticle
      Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 1998 – versiunea 1997 e mult mai reusita sa stii

      Imperial Grand Reserva 1999 – acum la oferta 25 Euro

      Vina Tondonia Reserva 2001 (rosu) – vreo 18 euro din asta am luat acum din Spania cand am fost 2 st si merita banii desi se bate la calitate cu urmatorul vin

      Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial 2001 – si din asta la fel mai am 1 st

      Tondonia Reserva Blanco 1997 – vreo 19 euro – asta ar fi de incercat cu siguranta
      Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosado 2000 – la fel si asta

      Pai poate strangem de un pachet mai mare de 18-24 sticle🙂

  9. April 19, 2012 at 20:18

    Pai am vorbit mai demult cu Mihai (Berbecutio), era si el interesat de un pachet mai marisor, sa vedem cum putem face; mai incerc si eu pe la George, poate ne strangem mai multi, ca ransportul e ceva mai scumpisor decat la nemti, de exemplu

  10. April 20, 2012 at 15:39

    As fi interesat si eu de un decantalo.🙂

    • April 21, 2012 at 10:35

      mai asteptam si alti potentiali doritori inainte sa facem lista scurta a vinurilor de comandat😉

  11. April 20, 2012 at 22:55

    Revin cu lista mea de mature (recunosc, unele sunt destul de tinere):

    2000 Viña Tondonia Reserva – Lopez de Heredia (rosu) – nu e nici tocmai concentrat, nici tocmai intens, dar extraordinar de complex si capabil de o evolutie remarcabila in pahar.

    2001 Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial – La Rioja Alta – un pic mai intens decat cel de dinainte, dar probabil nu la fel de complex, oricum foarte placut si easy-drinking (in sensul bun al cuvantului)

    1999 Pesquera Reserva – un stil mai modern si mai fructat decat cele doua de dinainte, cu mult prospetime si forta, dar si cu multa complexitate.

    1997 Puelles Gran Reserva – nas intens dar destul de simplu si surprinzator de tanar initial, evolueaza mult cu aerarea. Structura excelenta si probabil inca *foarte* mult potential de evolutie. Daca il gaseste unul din voi, anuntati-ma sau mai bine trimiteti-mi o cutie!🙂

    1970 La Tour Figeac – l-ati incercat si voi…🙂

    1988 Chasse Spleen – echilibru perfect intre fruct si aromele mai evoluate, tanini inca un pic agresivi, cred ca mai are ani buni in fata.

    1981 Château La Lagune – tot ce te astepti de la un Bordeaux matur – echilibru, complexitate; sticla incercata la un IWRT avea defect de dop, am avut insa norocul sa incerc ulterior una fara probleme.

    1970 Leoville-Las-Cases – eleganta incredibila, aciditate inca foarte buna, a avut nevoie de un pic de aer.

    1990 Chardonnay-Bründlmayer Kamptal – evoluat, floral-mieros dar cu o aciditate excelenta si un postgust interminabil.

    • April 21, 2012 at 10:33

      Ms pentru postarea ta Sorin, apreciez timpul investit in scrierea notelor.

      deja incepe sa se contureze o mini baza de date cu note de degustare a unor vinuri vechi interesante. 🙂

  12. April 21, 2012 at 11:35

    Multumim, Sorin🙂 Hmm, cred ca suntem cam singurii maniaci din blogosfera, pe felia asta :))

  13. April 21, 2012 at 11:39

    Poate ceilalti sunt mai timizi😉

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