On 6 March, we held the 9th Wine Dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel in aide of two children’s charities Care and Rainbow Trust. The evening was a huge success and a complete sell-out. Bernard Mayer cooked a superb dinner, Bob Marshall Andrews got every one wondering why he was a Labour MP and Humphrey Butler the auctioneer practised his black arts to great effect and the evening raised £170,000. As ever the evening was supported by Jacques Thienpont of Le Pin and Prince Robert of Luxemburg of Ch Haut Brion and we were delighted to have Frederick Engerer of Ch Latour as the guest of honour.
Each year after a glass of Krug a different Bordeaux vintage is featured. This year it was 1995 – a vintage that after four difficult vintages was heralded upon its release for its powerful and high quality wines.
Below you will find Robin Kicks tasting notes but for me amongst the 1st Growths the star was Ch Margaux, closely followed by Ch Haut Brion which is wonderfully elegant and already approachable, Ch Latour powerful, long and complex and the superb Petrus which is going to be a great wine.
At dinner we drank Ch Leoville Barton and Ch Grand Puy Lacoste, kindly supplied by the incredibly generous Anthony Barton and Francois Xavier Borie respectively.
With 13 years aging under its belt, it was curious to see how they had aged. Though I had never tasted the 1995 vintage en Primeur, it was possible that they came across as voluptuous and fleshy (as indicative of Parker’s early drinking dates). Though this could have been said of one or two of the wines below, the majority (by far!) will still need some years of cellaring to blossom and soften.
1995 Ch Ducru Beaucaillou 2ème Cru, St Julien
Plump and spicy, this medium-full bodied wine offers crushed bramble fruit and cherry compote. Its slightly hot mid-palate suggests the warmth of the vintage. Drink now – 2020.
1995 Ch Léoville Las Cases 2ème Cru, St Julien
This 1995 displayed a real sense of nobility. Powerful and confident, its dense full-bodied palate offered notes of sweet chewy cherry, leather and spice. Still very youthful. Drink 2011 – 2025+.
1995 Ch Pichon Lalande 2ème, Cru Pauillac
Notably aromatic with gamey/meaty notes and lots of opulence. Its sumptuous character makes it particularly morish and upfront though its alcoholic presence reveals itself slightly on the finish. Drink 2010 – 2022+
1995 Ch Cos d’Estournel 2ème Cru, St Estèphe
Perfumed nose of black current, blackberry and floral notes that lead to a fleshy palate. It nonetheless displays lots of power and its sturdy, chalky tannins notably suggest St Estèphe. A wine of terroir. Despite Parker’s assesment of “early accessibility”, it has not yet reached its pinnacle. Drink 2010 – 2025+.
1995 Ch La Mission Haut Brion Cru Classé, Pessac-Léognan
The most unusual 1995, this wine displayed lots of “˜wild’ garrigue and gamey characters. It reveals a slightly more evolved palate yet also retains a bit of lipsmacking crunchy cherry for a bit of lift. Drink 2010 – 2023+.
1995 Ch Haut Brion 1er Cru, Pessac-Léognan
Wonderfully feminine and succulent, this 1995 is a real enchantress. Delicate sweet notes of raspberry and red cherry fill out its full-bodied palate. Its tight, mineral core add gentle structure and lacy purity. Drink 2010 – 2022+.
1995 Ch Margaux 1er Cru, Margaux
Liquer-like, this full-bodied wine offers plump notes of ripe dried cherry, sweet leather and a gentle salty tang. Though voluptuous, it displays more power and tannic structure than the lady-like Haut Brion. Gripping, long finish. Drink 2011- 2030+.
1995 Ch Mouton Rothschild 1er Cru, Pauillac
This wine was by far the most backwards of all. It demonstrated a tight, masculine palate that displayed dark fruit and very few sumptuous curves. Its full-bodied presence also offered good freshness and length. This is in for the long haul. Drink 2014-2030+.
1995 Ch Lafite Rothschild 1er Cru, Pauillac
Very “˜Lafite’, this true-to-form 1995 displays notable earthy notes with discreet red and black berry fruits on the palate. Powerful and restrained. Though most châteaux display some bottle variation, Lafite tends to be the most variable for some reason. Drink 2012 – 2030+.
1995 Ch Latour 1er Cru, Pauillac
Reserved on the nose, the 1995 displays a vibrant palate, though rich and ripe, is not overdone. Its perfumed core displays very fine tannins that are sweet yet pronounced. A wonderful Latour which should be even better in a few years time. Drink 2012 – 2035+.
1995 Ch Ausone 1er Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion
Toasty coffee notes open up this savoury medium-full bodied wine. Its perfumed palate further displays subtle eucalyptus and ripe black fruits. Powerful, chewy yet delicately scented. Drink 2010 – 2030+.
1995 Ch Cheval Blanc 1er Grand Cru Classé St Emilion
Ample and complex with intriguing notes of crab apple, cinnamon and fleshy crushed white pepper. Its velvety and inviting palate is nonetheless buttressed by an underlying masculine structure. The 1995 contains a bit more Merlot than usual (50% Merlot/50% Cabernet Franc). Drink 2010 – 2028+.
1995 Ch Pétrus, Pomerol
Rich and fleshy, this concentrated, dense wine offers savoury meaty notes with plump red and black berry fruits. Despite its flirty nature, its superb complexity and power are not to be taken lightly. Very impressive. Very Pétrus. Drink 2011 – 2035+
1995 Ch Grand Puy Lacoste 5ème Cru, Pauillac
This 1995 offers a more open-knit nose of sweet leather and black current. Balanced between its feminine, gentle presence and its Pauillac core. Its velvety tannins make it particularly approachable. Drink now – 2024+.
1995 Ch Léoville Barton 2ème Cru, St Julien
Dense and masculine, this brooding wine reveals dark berry and earthy notes. Though closed upon first opening, after extensive decanting (6 hours) it opened up beautifully and coyly displayed its impressive complexity. Collectors of this château will not be disappointed. Drink 2011 – 2028+.