Being invited, along with approximately thirty others, to taste my way through twenty of Bordeaux’s best from the 1986 vintage, was an experience not to be missed. In October 1986 when the grapes for these wines were picked, at least two of the people present were but mere twinkles in their parent’s eyes. I on the other hand had just turned fifteen and my wine experience was limited to the occasional two fingers worth of Yugoslavian Laski Riesling or Rioja with dinner.
I’d heard of Bordeaux but would not have recognised a single name amongst the famous estates listed below and why drink wine anyway? When I started going into pubs when I was eighteen (and not a day before), the idea of drinking wine was as alien to me as serving it obviously was to the landlord at our local who had exactly three white wines (dry, medium or sweet) by Alexis Lichine available by the highly inappropriately shaped glass and all served very precisely at room temperature, yum. Beer was the far better choice.
A lot has happened in those intervening thirty years but some things have also remained the same. I still like beer, but if I want a glass of wine the majority of hostelries now have at least a semblance of a wine list from which one can make a reasonable choice.
The weather during the growing season in Bordeaux in 1986 resulted in rather herbaceous tasting fruit for those who decided to pick early and rather small berries that accentuated the tannins in those who decided to wait. Those tannins and that herbaceousness were marked in many of these wines and whilst some in the room believed that this pointed to the possibility of continued positive development into their dotage, I was left wondering the opposite, feeling that perhaps for many their best years had been and gone. The issue for me is that wine needs a certain level of fruit concentration to prevent the palate feeling a little hollow. All the wines tasted had ample acid and tannin and in the majority of cases a very pleasant aromatic bent, but approximately half of these wines presented as rather consumptive iterations of their healthier, younger selves.
Like people, wines are fast to show their inherent qualities and whilst maturation can soften edges and tame certain excess, time cannot turn me into Usain Bolt however hard I train and much of the tannin structure so evident in a glass of 1986 Bordeaux will remain rather tough and unyielding. I will always prefer the 1989’s that had similar levels of tannin but a greater concentration of balancing fruit.
The wines tasted (blind), scores and some tasting notes:
- Château Cos d’Estournel. 90
- Château Lynch-Bages. 83
- Château Mouton-Rothschild. 91
- Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. 78
- Haut-Bages-Libéral. 89
- Château Pichon-Lalande. 90
- Château Ducru-Beaucaillou. 89
- Château Léoville-Las-Cases. 89
- Château Gruaud-Larose. 86
- Château Langoa-Barton. 81
- Château Lagrange. 85
- Château Margaux. 89
- Château Rauzan-Ségla 94
Firm and just a little herbal but supported with ample fruit and perfume. Elegant stuff.
- Château Sociando-Mallet. 90
- Château Haut-Brion. 95
Floral, cedary and with super-fine tannins and delineated fruit. The wine of the day.
- Château Lafleur. 90
Both of the representatives from Pomerol improved over a couple of hours so these scores maybe a little mean.
- Vieux-Château-Certan 90
The consensus was that this was the wine of the day and there is no doubt that this wine was very flattering but the Haut Brion had the finesse I’d been looking for.
- Château Soutard. 89
- Château l’Arrosée. 87
- Château Canon. 92
能夠與其他約末三十多位來賓一同受邀品嚐波爾多（Bordeaux）1986年一些表現最傑出的酒款，是個不能夠錯過的體驗。1986年十月，當這些葡萄被採收來釀酒時，在場有兩位還只是孩子而已，而我自己也才剛滿十五歲。當時，我的品酒經驗僅侷限於晚餐品嚐的兩指前南斯拉夫拉斯奇麗絲玲（Laski Riesling）或利奧哈（Rioja）。我聽過波爾多，但對於文末列出的知名酒莊，我一個也認不出來，而且那時候的我，一點也不懂為什麼要喝葡萄酒。當我十八歲，可以合法進出酒吧時（我可是一天也沒偷跑），品酒對我而言，依舊跟酒吧提供葡萄酒一樣，是個難以理解的概念。當地的酒吧老闆只供有三款Alexis Lichine（譯注：俄國葡萄酒作家，擁有數家波爾多酒莊）的白酒：干型、半干型或甜型酒。每一款都以極不合宜的杯具乘裝，而且全都儲存於室溫。聽起來還真是可口！相較之下，啤酒是個更好的選擇。
和人一樣，葡萄酒總是很快便顯現出自身特質；時間雖能軟化稜角，並平撫一些過度與不宜，但無論我怎麼訓練，時間都無法把我變成Usain Bolt（譯注：牙買加短跑選手）。正如同一杯單寧架構強烈的波爾多1986年，即便現在品嚐，還是免不了有些艱澀而難以馴服的單寧。相較之下，我會偏好具有同樣單寧架構、卻展現出更多果味的1989年。（編譯 / 艾蜜・emily）
- Château Cos d’Estournel（90分 / 100分）
- Château Lynch-Bages（83分）
- Château Mouton-Rothschild（91分）
- Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste（78分）
- Château Pichon-Lalande（90分）
- Château Ducru-Beaucaillou（89分）
- Château Léoville-Las-Cases（89分）
- Château Gruaud-Larose（86分）
- Château Langoa-Barton（81分）
- Château Lagrange（85分）
- Château Margaux（89分）
- Château Rauzan-Ségla（94分）
- Château Sociando-Mallet（90分）
- Château Haut-Brion（95分）
- Château Lafleur（90分）
- Château Soutard（89分）
- Château l’Arrosée（87分）
- Château Canon（92分）