(2021) The 4th growth Beychevelle from 1985 has been one of my favourite ever wines for three decades now, a bottle from a case bought around 1989 having been drunk every few years. This the last of the dozen. Now the colour is still a lovely ruby, a hint of brick on the rim, though the nose and palate both show some age. There's a little autumn leaf, vegetal note that was not there on the previous bottle seven or eight years ago, but it does not detract: there is still so much to like. The palate still has that quite sumptuous, plummy fruit depth and swirling smokiness and hints of fudge and chocolate generosity, and the framework of tannins and now slightly more angular acidity give it tension and drive, making for a really enjoyable wine. Would I buy more of the 1985 at this stage? I'd say it is definitely just past its peak, but possibly would at the right price. Current price is shown below.
(2021) Having last tasted this 18 years ago, 'en primeur', when I rated it 87/100 and suggested that it was for early drinking, my expectations were tempered. There's still good colour, though that is pale and edged with brick. The nose is gamey and cedary, with a touch of green leafiness, but there is a black fruit in there too. The palate is a touch lean, but I really enjoyed this, a coffee depth of oak and juiciness there to the black fruit, actually the balance pretty solid. Probably not for extended cellaring but enjoyable for sure, perhaps surprisingly so, and proper mature Bordeaux.
(2020) Not tasted since 2000, this was decanted off the sediment and poured almost immediately. Shy at first, within 10 minutes in the glass the sweet red and black fruit began to emerge, joining game and light cedary scents that grew and grew, becoming richer and firmer in the glass. On the palate a gorgeous iron-oxide, dried blood streak to this, the finesse of the tannins and acidity just beautifully balanced, the wine structurally elegant and yet muscular, a great depth of savoury fruit really beginning to dominate the mid-palate and the long finish. Superb. Drinking really, really well now, but will hold for several years I suspect.
(2020) A gorgeously full and generous claret from Château Pichon Baron in the shape of their second wine, made from 55% lush and mouth-filling Merlot, 30% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, aged 12 months in barrel, 30% of which where new. Plummy, rich and exotically spiced, there is a hint of rose and of cedar too. In the mouth thr fresh graininess of the tannins and cool acidity balance the ripeness and weight of fruit, which is pure and elegantly focused. It is classy stuff, drinking so well already, but with structure for further cellaring.
(2020) Solid ruby at the core but tawny towards the rim, this has a mellow, currant and sweet plum flesh nose, that undertow of game and sauvage quality is there, a firm graphite note still discernable. No sign of the slightly more animal character of a couple of bottles drunk many years ago. Lovely sweetness on the palate: pure blackcurrant and savoury, plum skin and bitter orange, tannins still spicy and taut, acidity balanced and gastronomic, and the wine drinking really well. I'd guess this is at, or has just peaked, and is for drinking now. Really very good indeed - complete mature Bordeaux experience.
(2019) From a legendary vintage, this second-growth Margaux is absolutely exemplary classic Bordeaux: only 12.5% alcohol and a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot, at 33 years old the colour is surprisingly dense and ruby at the core, the broad rim only just fading to pink/amber. Heavenly, pure classic nose of pencil shavings and truffle, a little dried blood note and plenty of black, small berry fruits. There is perfume to spare here, from the gamey to the floral. Decanted for half an hour or so, it is clearly a wine just edging towards the downslope, the tannins a little dry, a bit of brick dust character, but is gives such pleasure and is such a terrific wine. Balancing meatiness, elegance, firmness and yielding softness so well, it has sweet fruit on the mid-palate but does dry just slightly towards the long finish, suggesting it should be drunk up soon to enjoy this gorgeous wine at its best.
(2018) At 33-years old, in a more or less perfect place for me, pouring with still a healthy ruby at the core and the nose absolutely à pointe with some herbal Cabernet character, but loads of precise graphite and black fruit and a waft of rose-like perfume somewhere in the background. In the mouth still rich and substantial: a wine that has shrugged off its three decades, still a hint of muscularity and taut athleticism, but there is a softening touch to the fruit, a little Muscavado sugar caramel, but lovely, lovely resolution of the tannins and acids into a harmonious and quite long finish. Could it be a tad more complex? Maybe, but I'm very happy to have one more bottle left in the cellarfor drinking over the next few years.
(2016) Nice deep and dense colour, orange on rim, initially quite gamy on opening, meat stock and a touch of almost bretty character but over 10 minutes that has almost disappeared, leaving much more cigar box and graphite, classic and mineral with a core of taut black fruit. Glorious in the mouth: fairly lean in style, that is, no excess baggage here, just a tight and meaty core of black fruit and roasted meat, chestnut and a hint of cherry. Fresh, with elegant acidity, a fairly noteable tannin still. Delicious and I think it may plateau for quite some time.
(2016) At 22 years old the Haut-Brion 1994 has a broad amber rim, and a red oxide colour. On the nose there is plenty of game and forest floor, briary character, graphite and pencil-shavings, and a sweet black berry fruit is there in the mix. In the mouth it has marvelous, blood-streaked and mineral character: true Graves, with the savoury black fruit touched by olive and game, the tannins very refined and now quite modest, and the alacrity of good natural acidity and its lowly 12.5% alcohol shining through. It perhaps lacks the final ounce of generosity to command the highest score, and it is hard to say whether more time in the cellar will be rewarded, but it has a relatively austere beauty and is a terrific wine that oozes class from first sip to last.
(2010) Big and meaty, concentrated with little nuances of mint and game, a slick of youthful vanilla oak too. The palate has a big, drying tannin structure at this stage and a lovely cherry acidity, but the meaty substance of the fruit and underlying elegance of the balance will out. Terrific and structured to age.