The Great 1990 Vintage Wine Dinner: Tasting Notes


Tastings such as this come round few times in our lifetime and the Wine Dinner Event hosted by Johnny Goedhuis at the Savoy in aid of MacIntyre was a very memorable evening indeed. I suspect the last time any of us will have the chance to taste such a complete collection of the very finest wines that the famed 1990 vintage produced.

When tasting such an extraordinary selection, it is easy to go two ways, either totally over the top in excitement or overly critical. I hope I have got the right balance. The best are sensational and, now 25 years old, entering their absolute pomp for drinking. There was the odd disappointment and I hope I haven’t been too harsh on them. We have to be mindful, that not all the wines came direct from Chateau stock and so storage and provenance can play a part. We were however very particular in where they were bought from and so should in each case have been the finest example possible.

This is rather a long list, so I don’t expect you to read all my notes, but hopefully it gives a flavour of what a sensational evening was had and what a lovely vintage 1990 really is.


Ch La Conseillante Pomerol
If elegance, delicacy and grace are your thing look no further. This is unquestionably the wine of the vintage in this category – quite simply glorious. Subtle aromas of spiced herbs, with hints of new leather, this is an extraordinarily complex wine. It is refined, graceful and harmonious, with a beautiful silky velvety texture. With a delicious sense of sweetness with hints of dates and caramel at the end, this is sublime. 18/20

Ch Angélus 1er Grand Cru Classé St Emilion
This remains a deep opaque colour, showing a little bit of brick red maturity on edge of rim. Strikingly appealing sweet aromas of damsons, with hints of freshly fallen, autumnal leaves. In the palate the wine is all about intensity, boldness and concentration. It has a lot of plum fruits with a subtle hint of mint and finishes on hints of cocoa and smoky coffee beans. A wine of real intensity, almost to the extent of being a little forced and finishes with strength and weight. 17/20

Ch Canon 1er Grand Cru Classé St Emilion
Unquestionably the bargain of the night, a sensational wine and one third of the price of any other wine in the line up. This is a total and utter steal, a wine to be sought out, a bargain hunter’s dream… Brilliant mature red colour, with hints of plums and white truffles on the nose. This balances a subtly harmonious texture, with a natural drive of direct sweet fresh mature fruits. Not the length of some, but a very rewarding wine and wonderful example of classic St Emilion 17/20


Vieux Château Certan Pomerol
Possibly not in the class of more recent vintages, this represents a style before the construction of the new winery. Advanced mature brick red colour, showing signs of browning on the edges. A little herbal and medicinal, with hints mushrooms ad ceps on the nose. In the palate it has advanced tertiary flavours and has a slight lack of depth, texture and the normal level of complexity that one expects from the best VCC’s. Slightly disappointing and needs drinking up. 16.5/20

Ch L’Evangile Pomerol
Mature browny orange colour, this has wonderfully perfumed aromas of jasmine, hints of geraniums, which evolve in the palate into mature, meaty gamey flavours and hints of sweet prunes. A bold and generous style, supported by an uplifting freshness. The tannins are a little dry on the finish and therefore the wine needs drinking, but very classy. 17.5/20

Ch Palmer 3ème Cru Margaux
A certain degree of bottle variation, so not everybody’s favourite, but I tasted an absolute beauty. Delicate mature red orange colour. Sweet aromas of truffles and stewed fruits. A very harmonious and balanced style, not necessarily powerful, but subtly generous and the delicate sweet plum fruit flavours on the finish, make this a delicious aged Margaux. 18/20

Ch Léoville Poyferré 2ème Cru St Julien
Dense dark mature opaque colour. A very intense nose, slightly medicinal, with hints of liquorice and baked fruits. There is no shortage of fruit in this big and richly concentrated wine, full of intensity, with tightly structured tannins. An eye-catching style, less on subtlety but very enjoyable. 17.5/20

Ch Léoville Barton 2ème Cru St Julien
Enjoyed with dinner, with its perfumed aromas of fresh mint and berry fruits. A wine of real balance, with rounded mature tannins, appealing sweet mature fruit flavours and lovely length. Absolutely in its pomp, lovely. 17.5/20

Domaine de Chevalier Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan
The 2nd of the red wines we had with dinner and enjoyed in Magnum coming direct from the Chateaux’s cellars. This is an absolute humdinger, delicious wine, whilst showing some maturity in colour and the nose has strong leathery tertiary fruit characteristics, the balance and grace in the palate, is glorious, silky, harmonious, with hints of freshly roasted coffee beans, this is a delicious glass. 18/20

Ch Léoville Las Cases 2ème Cru St Julien
Bright ruby red colour, subtle perfumed aromas of fresh currants, with an herbal undertone. Reminiscent of a summer walk in the woods, aromas of fresh sap and newly cut grass. A very intense wine, with a real feeling of power, almost Pauillacesque, without excess. Masses of length, huge class and will go on for a number of years. 18.5/20


Ch Ducru Beaucaillou 2ème Cru St Julien
A little disappointing for an estate of this breeding and highlights the variability of some of the bottles from this great Chateau at this period. Earthy damp wood aromas, the fruit is drying out in the palate, with rather hard tannins. A difficult wine to score. 15.5/20

Ch Lynch Bages 5ème Cru Pauillac
Brilliant, shining red colour. Striking aromas of dark currants, hints of leather and liquorice. This is a bold rich style, with natural intensity, the tightly knit tannins are totally in keeping with the density of fruit providing structure and length. The feeling at the end is one of deliciously rich fruit. Bravo as one famed wine critic used to say! 17.5/20

Ch Pichon Lalande 2ème Cru Pauillac
Not a naturally popular wine amongst a number of critics. This was a slightly disappointing bottle, particularly as I tasted a delicious example just a few weeks ago. Mature browny orange colour, plum pudding aromas, the fruit is drying in the palate and the wine is showing signs of tiring with little weight or depth. 15.5/20

Ch Pichon Baron 2ème Cru Pauillac
Deep intense dark purple colour. Stroking aromas pf dark plums and black currants. This is a real fruit bomb with its explosion of rich dark fruits in the palate and the finish is one of sweetness, lots of black cherries and truffles. A real crowd pleaser in a very positive way. A delicious glass. 17/20

Ch Montrose 2ème Cru St Estèphe
Mature dark opaque colour. Intense aromas of new leather, mocha and fresh simmering coffee. A very layered wine, with an absorbing lusciousness and richness. It has a real feeling of sweet ripe black fruits, with hints of game and dark truffle flavours. Balanced and a fine finish of dark bitter chocolate. A wine of class and breeding. 18/20

Ch Cos d’Estournel 2ème Cru St Estèphe
Showing a surprising amount of age in the colour, with hints of orange and red. The aromas are a little backward, but show a ripeness of fruit with underlying hints of sultanas. Whilst not the length of some, it is a very rewarding glass with lovely sweet black fruit flavours. Drink now. 17.5/20

Ch Cheval Blanc 1er Grand Cru Classé St Emilion
One of the stars of the night, this is an absolute beauty and a 1st growth in every way. Mature brick red in colour, vibrant aromas of plums and damsons, with hints of white truffles and hedgerow berry fruits. Quit simply a stunner, the fruit is totally in keeping with the tannins, always fresh and although there is a density it isn’t to excess. Very silky in texture and the great layers of plums and chocolate on the finish. A glorious wine, heading towards perfection. 19.5/20


Ch La Mission Haut Brion Cru Classé Pessac-Léognan
Always a favourite of mine and this great estate has absolutely nailed the vintage yet again. Amazingly youthful almost crimson colour, layered aromas of cinnamon, freshly picked herbs, leather and ceps. A full and intense palate, with a subtle grainy tannic structure, with that hint of medicinal flavours I expect from La Mission. A warm rich style with an abundance of both flavour and complexity. 19/20


Ch Haut Brion 1er Cru Pessac-Léognan
Vying with Margaux and Cheval Blanc for the wine of the night award, this is a great wine. Mature brick red colour, with smoky aromas of iodine, herbs and dates. In the palate this wine is all about complexity, as new flavours and sensations evolve on the mouth. I remarked that it might not have the length of the Cheval Blanc, but the mid palate sensations are as great as any wine on the night. Outstanding. 19.5/20.

Ch Margaux 1er Cru Margaux
For sheer pleasure and hedonism look no further, this glorious wine is an absolute beauty and leaves you in no doubt about the rewards and delights of great Margaux. Bright crimson colour, this is full of pure red fruits and lively fresh cherries. The focus here is all about fruit and grace. A total and utter charmer, so giving, harmonious and fine. The final sensation is one of fruit which simply says “Drink me”. At its very peak and don’t miss at this stage in its glorious life. 19.5/20

Ch Mouton Rothschild 1er Cru Pauillac
Bright shining purple colour. Slightly herbal aromas, with hints of crisp early picked red currants. In the palate the wine is surprisingly light and there is an excess of damp earthy mushroom characteristics. The wine has a slight stalky tannic dryness, but it remains alive and whilst essentially a good wine, it sits some way below all the other 1st growths on this occasion. 17.5/20

Ch Lafite Rothschild 1er Cru Pauillac
The most subtle of all the wines in the 1st growth line up, so whilst not show stopping in its characteristics, it has huge class. Browny orange in colour, aromas of red fruits and wild forest fruits, and this wine balances subtlety and texture, with quite a noticeable amount of Pauillac tannic structure. A very full wine, with real intensity, all on reserve, but with a feeling that there is a genie waiting to pop out…High class indeed and in a few years time might score half a mark more. 19/20

Ch Latour 1er Cru Pauillac
Mature brown and opaque colour. Striking aromas of camomile tea, a little herbal. In the palate this is a high class wine, lots of mature gamey flavours, hints of truffles and ceps. There is a delicious abundance of fruit in the palate. This is a weighty structured wine in the true Latour mould, the tannins on the night slightly dominate the fruit on the finish, but as they subside, there is huge potential. 19/20