Recently I spent a couple of hours opening up all the 1990 1st Growths, Ch Cheval Blanc and a very small handful of 2nd Growths for a Starlight wine dinner, a charity that grants seriously ill children their dream wishes.
Often the greatest Bordeaux vintages are among the hottest years on record and 1990 was the hottest since 1947. It is no secret that warm years do create some of the greatest wines. In 1990 the barrel samples are supposed to have had an opulence of fruit and a wonderful silky texture, hallmarks of an extremely hot growing season. Do they still today?
Chateau Margaux was just beautiful. Violets and other flowers soared from the glass and the wine had a tremendous exotic opulence. Melted chocolate featured in my note which is potentially quite extreme! Ch Latour and Lafite both excited. The Latour was positively ferrous, very dark, with blackcurrant leaf underlying and figs and dried fruits on the nose. The Lafite was even darker, tighter, pencil lead, cedar, very rich and quite fabulous.
I enjoyed the Haut Brion as well, but it was relatively compact when I tasted and later reports were that it opened up magnificently. I got notes of iron, cedar and soy sauce. Mineral driven as you would expect and well balanced, it had lots of interest. Mouton, now, Mouton has always been known as the least exciting of the 1sts but I thought it was better than that today. It was very meaty, with lovely balance, and elegant with underlying power, hints of nuts…it was the most evolved however…
Cheval Blanc was a star. The heavier soils of St Emilion suited the heat and this 1990 is absolutely delicious. Heady, lush, opulent, sublime.
Finally a special mention to Ch Rausan Segla that I thought made a really fabulous 1990. It was floral, feminine, so complex, and elegant yet with fantastic purity. It was genuinely very exciting to drink; therefore I had to ‘crache a l’interieur, of course.