Wine Vault: 1982 Bordeaux- Forever Young
In the last twenty-five years, there has been no other Bordeaux vintage that has generated in the United States as much critical acclaim and collector enthusiasm as the 1982s (at least prior to the arrival of the 1990s). From the very outset these wines delivered dramatic levels of sweet, sumptuously-ripe fruit in a full-bodied, opulent format that made the wines delicious drinks right from the start. It had been decades since any Bordeaux vintage had delivered such a synthesis of early appeal with great depth of fruit and power, and the few opponents of the vintage wondered whether wines that were so stunning early on had the requisite "stuffing" and structure to stand the test of time. Many a critical reputation was won or lost by one's read on these wines early on. Questions of high yields, inadequate acidity levels, and "modern winemaking" styles that sacrificed longevity for early popular appeal swarmed around these wines at the outset, but have receded as the years have gone by. The initial "puppy fat" of super-ripe fruit eventually stepped back to reveal wines of firm, ripe tannins, sound structures, and intense "cores of fruit" that only the greatest vintages of Bordeaux can deliver.
In early 1995, with the hope of establishing where 1982 stands in the hierarchy of the twentieth century's greatest Bordeaux vintages, a group of collectors met to taste the top forty-five wines of the vintage. The tastings were conducted blind, and divided into a left bank and a right bank tasting. All efforts were made to locate wines whose provenance was known, to ensure that the wines would be in good condition and representative of the vintage at that chateau. These two large tastings form the basis for the notes that follow. I apologize in advance to anyone who might be put off by my posting tasting notes whose origins are now two and a half years old. However, the opportunities to taste so many great wines side by side are relatively rare, and I feel the notes are as useful today as they would have been had The Wine Vault existed in 1995 as a vehicle to post the notes. As one will see, the vast, vast majority of the wines' projected windows of drinkability are still further out than the September '97 posting. Over the last two and a half years, I have crossed paths (often on numerous occasions) with many of the wines. Much as Michael Broadbent might do in his Great Vintage Wine Book, I have combined notes on wines I have tasted subsequently to most accurately convey my impressions of the wine today, and noted them as such. As the following notes attest, this was an extraordinary opportunity to investigate the vintage as a whole, as well as test the reputations of specific wines.
In general terms, the tastings have confirmed the overall quality of the 1982s. The wines are just beginning to show a bit of age to their colors, with the deep ruby centers showing a bit of pink and amber at the rims. Surprisingly, the colors on the Medoc wines looks to be a bit less advanced than the Pomerols and St. Emilions. Aromatically, the vast majority of these wines are still quite closed and reticent, with only fifteen to twenty percent of the wines showing any signs of nearing maturity. With coaxing, the lovely, ripe, almost roasted fruit of the vintage is still abundant, but these are wines that still beg for time in the cellar. The fullest, classiest, most important twelve wines of the vintage (other than Le Pin) are still a good eight to ten years away from hitting their absolute apogees, and show every indication of evolving positively for the first three to four decades of the twenty-first century. For these wines, Mouton-Rothschild, Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Leoville las Cases, Margaux, La Mission Haut Brion, Petrus, Le Pin, Trotanoy, Certan de May, L'Evangile, Cheval Blanc and Ausone, 1982 reaches peaks that only the greatest wines from years such as 1961, 1959, and 1945 can attain. Will they last as long as the greatest wines from earlier in the century? Probably not, but with a potential window of drinkability of thirty to sixty years, they should provide ample opportunity to enthrall winelovers and take their rightful place among the greatest wines Bordeaux has ever offered. Wines at the level just below this top "baker's dozen" were equally impressive wines, adding further evidence that 1982 is indeed one of the top four or five vintages of the century.
What follows is a commune by commune breakdown of the forty-five wines tasted, with impressions and scores on each chateau, as well as an evaluation of how the 1982s from each commune stack up vis a vis other great vintages. Of the forty-five wines tasted at the two large tastings in 1995, only two wines Beycheville and Rouget, were clearly "off" bottles and impossible to judge. Rouget I have encountered subsequently, but also had the misfortune to hit an off bottle. Beycheville I have not tasted since early 1995, but on numerous occasions previously I have always found the wine to be lovely, with plenty of thick, sweet fruit, but without the requisite structure to push it beyond its 89 point score. The remainder were wines of exciting depth and (potential) complexity. As the tasting notes indicate, very few of these wines are ready to drink, and a minimum of four to five years further cellaring is required. While there are a number of equally superb wines from subsequent vintages in the '80s, in terms of consistency, this is as fine a young vintage of claret as I have tasted. Perhaps, of all the fine vintages of the 1980s, only the 1990 vintage can offer as many stellar examples up and down the quality hierarchy as 1982. On the surface, 1990 has the seeming advantage of resuscitated properties such as L'Angelus, Troplong-Mondot, and Montrose, not to mention new stars such as Tertre Roteboeuf, Lafleur de Gay, to give it the nod over 1982. However, 1982 has the distinction of being the last great vintage (to date) for the legendary property of Trotanoy. I am not prepared to state a preference between these two stunning vintages, but at least in terms of value, the 1982s that were purchased early on (during the dollar's surge against the franc) clearly beat the 1990s in terms of value. As a whole, 1982 has clearly produced as many legends in the making as any top vintage of the century, and stands as one of nature's crowning achievements in the Gironde. Now, if we can only keep our hands off of them for a few more years!
A very good, but not a great vintage in the commune of St. Estephe in 1982; certainly the commune did better in 1990 than it did in this year. Chateau Montrose was not tasted on this occasion; the property did not make a great wine in 1982 (when last tasted in the mid-1980s it scored a respectable, but by no means legendary 86 points). St. Estephe has always been a commune where I feel compelled to pick and choose, as the "Big Three" of Montrose, Cos D'Estournal and Calon Segur have had a record of inconsistency during the post-war era. Montrose went through a bit of a fallow period between 1971 and 1989, Cos has been up and down until 1982, and Calon can only claim two profound wines (1982 and 1988) out of the glorious run of the 1980s. Haut Marbuzet, since 1970, is certainly only a half step behind these other chateaux.
1982 Chateau Calon-Segur
The finest Calon-Segur in decades, this wine delivers one of the clearest reflections of terroir in all of Bordeaux. A tight, but very deep and promising bouquet of sweet cassis, red cherry, coffee, resinous tones, herbs, cedar and loads of minerals wafts from the glass. On the palate the wine is deep and quite powerful, with superb balance, ripe tannins, and a long, minerally finish. The forbidding tannins this wine showed early on are now a thing of the past, and while still a youthful wine, this is no longer one of the most backward wines of the vintage. Clearly as good as Cos D'Estournal in this vintage, it is a shame this same level of quality is not hit by Calon Segur on a more consistent basis. Drink 2002-2030. 92.
1982 Chateau Cos D'Estournal
A great Cos, but I still have a slight preference for the seductive 1985 from this chateau. This wine is certainly excellent: a lovely, deep bouquet of black raspberry, chocolate, herbs, tobacco, minerals and toasty new oak wafts from the glass. On the palate the wine is still tight and unyielding (requiring twenty to thirty minutes to really open up), full-bodied and powerful, with a huge core of roasted fruit, plenty of chewy tannins, and a long, opulent finish. A very impressive wine that, with just a bit more elegance could have been magical. However, having just been floored by the extremely elegant 1961 Cos, I have to surmise that the elegance (now hidden) may well come with additional bottle age. If it does develop a little more "lightness of step", my score will be extremely conservative. Drink 2002-2030. 92.
1982 Chateau Haut Marbuzet
An amazing showing for this wine, whose reputation for power and opulence is often offset by its rusticity and "horsiness". One man's kinkiness is another man's dirty peasant... However, this wine is showing brilliantly. The bouquet is vibrant and, yes, elegant, with beautiful scents of sweet black cherry, saddle leather, tobacco, earth, and toasty oak. On the palate the wine is bright and beautifully-balanced, with the highly-extracted, sweet cherry fruit carrying through to the long, softly-tannic finish. This is the finest vintage I have ever tasted of this wine, with a degree of breed and balance that is very, very impressive. Wines such as Cos D'Estournal and Calon Segur may ultimately become more complex than Haut Marbuzet in 1982, but I am not sure that this additional complexity will be enough to tip the scales away from this seamless, creamy and dramatic bottle of wine! One of the few top 1982s that I would not feel guilty pulling the cork on tonight. This may well be the star of the commune in 1982! Drink 1997-2020. 92+.
WOne of the undisputed star communes of the vintage, the overall quality level of the Pauillacs rivals the wines of Pomerol. Unlike any of the subsequent vintages of the 1980s, 1982 marked a year where all three of the Pauillac First Growths achieved their full potential. With almost every major player (other than Pichon-Baron) seizing on the opportunity to make great wine, there is not a wine listed below that I would hesitate to own; ultimately, the torch of the '82 vintage may well be carried by this stellar group of wines. I cannot think of another vintage in Pauillac, either subsequent or previous to 1982, where the overall excellence of nature's potential was realized in the finished wines. Perhaps 1959, though my experience with the vintage in Pauillac has been limited primarily to the top four or five wines. Certainly, it is the last vintage until 1982 where Pauillac's First Growths all succeeded fabulously.
1982 Forts de Latour
This is the one wine in Pauillac that I found a bit weak for the vintage. From its release, there has been a "stewed fruit" component to the wine that takes away from its elegance. This was a good, but by no means, special (though consistent) showing for this wine. Given how successful wines such as Grand Puy Lacoste and Leoville Barton are in 1982, it is hard to make an argument for buying "second labels" in 1982. The bouquet of the '82 Forts de Latour displays weedy cassis fruit, tobacco, leathery tones, earth and cedary wood. On the palate the wine is fullish, long, and still a touch "green" on the finish, without the layers of ripe fruit and strong sense of extract that most Pauillacs enjoy in this vintage. In need of a year or two in the cellar, this will be a good, solid wine for drinking over the next decade and a half. Drink 1998-2010. 88+.
1982 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste
I have never had a better vintage of this chateau. A fabulous, fabulous showing for this wine, the '82 Grand Puy Lacoste showed itself deserving of its reputation as the greatest wine ever produced at this chateau. This is the kind of wine that so amply demonstrates how superb this vintage is: a deep, complex nose of cassis, pepper, meaty tones, tobacco, and cedar soars from the glass. On the palate this big and opulent wine has very serious depth, with layers of fruit, strong extract, great grip and a long, surprisingly-tannic finish. This wine has the power, depth and length of a "super second" in 1982. Impressive as this wine is today, I would bury it in the cellar for six to eight more years. It will be well worth the wait! Drink 2005- 2035. 93.
1982 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild
A phenomenal Lafite, that delivers as compelling a bouquet as one may ever hope to find. Early on, this wine was one of the chateaux (Margaux is another) most marked by the signature "roasted fruit" tones of the vintage. I often thought this wine would be a great, albeit, non-classical Lafite, but this showing revealed a profound, textbook wine of immense potential. Simply said, this wine is monumental: a kaleidoscopic bouquet of sweet cassis, "pit fruits", floral tones, tobacco, loads of minerals, and a firm coating of toasty new oak. The fruit is intensely black fruity, incredibly pure, and displayed in such abundance that it reminds me of the '59. On the palate the wine is near perfection: deep and complex, packed with ripe fruit, impeccably balanced, with superb concentration, ripe, firm tannins, and a long, long, long multi-dimensional finish. The most forward of the Pauillac First Growths, it would still be infanticide to open this wine before the turn of the century. Drink 2000-2050. 98+.
1994 Musigny Vieilles Vignes- Comte De Vogue
This has to be one of the handful of top wines in 1994. De Vogue has been on quite a tear since 1988, and their performance in the "off" years has eclipsed that of the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. Only Leroy seems to routinely do this well in off vintages! The nose is classic Moose: red cherry, strawberry, coffee, mustard seed, tobacco, ginger, roses, smoke and toasty new oak. Deeper and much more complex than the 1992, the wine shows fine depth and richness on the mid-palate, a medium-full personality, modest tannins, and a long, complex finish. Still not as focused and nuanced as it will be with a couple of years' cellaring, this is a fine, fine effort from De Vogue. 2000-2012. 93+.
1982 Chateau Latour
One of the mild surprises, the 1982 Latour performed extraordinarily well. Latour's reputation in this vintage is of a very impressive wine, but a wine that in retrospect, represented the beginning of a slight downturn at the chateau. Allegedly quite forward and approachable, this wine has been dogged by suspicions that it could have somehow been even better than it is. However, at twelve years of age, this wine is showing more depth, more bite, and more power than at any time previously (I have been fortunate to taste the wine a dozen times over the years) it appears to be even bigger and better than the superb 1990, and is clearly in the same class as the Lafite, Mouton, and Margaux in 1982. On the nose the wine is profound: sweet cassis, tobacco, cigar box, earth, and cedary, spicy wood are textbook Latour. On the palate the wine is mammoth, with layer upon layer of fruit, strong soil tones, loads of extract, and a huge, powerful, quite tannic finish. Placed in the same flight as Leoville las Cases, the 1982 Latour was bigger, deeper, and clearly superior to that fabulous wine! One of the most backward wines of the tasting, forget this one in a cool corner of your cellar for at least ten more years! Drink 2005-2065. 98+.
1982 Chateau Lynch-Bages
Lynch-Bages is another chateau in 1982 that I have been less than wild about in earlier tastings. Like the Cos D'Estournal, the 1985 Lynch has always found a warmer spot in my heart. While big and powerful, the 1982 has been meaty and inelegant throughout its adolescence. However, this wine is really beginning to round into form: a very classy bouquet of cassis, black cherry, tobacco, a touch of chocolate and a fine coating of new, vanillin oak showed up for this tasting. Full-bodied and as powerful as ever on the palate, the '82 Lynch is also showing a degree of balance and elegance that I never dreamed this wine could possess. It is just beginning to come into harmony, and while drinkable now, the sense of grace and balance will increase dramatically over the next few years. The tannins are firm, but ripe, making this another bottle that demands four to six more years cellaring. If the 1989 develops along the same lines as the 1982, it may well give this wine a run for its money. But at this time, we have to give the nod to the '82 over every other Lynch-Bages since the 1961 and 1959. Drink 1999-2025. 92+.
1982 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild
Since the very earliest days of the vintage, the '82 Mouton has been a legend in the making. On the numerous occasions I have tasted this wine, nothing has led me to believe otherwise, and this most recent tasting was no exception. However, along with Petrus, this is the most backward wine of the vintage. At this stage, it remains completely dumb, closed, and in need of a good ten more years of cellaring to reach its peak of maturity. However, for those willing to wait it out, the '82 Mouton promises to deliver a thrilling ride. The bouquet, though reticent, is profound: a blast of roasted cassis, red currants, coffee, tobacco, minerals, intermingled with plenty of toasty new oak. The depth, sweetness and projection of this totally closed bouquet is unbelievable. On the palate the wine is an endless cascade of super-ripe fruit, with perfect balance, extraordinary extract, vivid terroir, and a boatload of round, ripe tannins buried in fruit. Profound in every way, this is Mouton the way it was meant to be! I suspect of the two twin towers of '82 and '86 Mouton, the '82 will be the more exotically flamboyant, while the '86 will be renowned for its extraordinary purity coupled with unyielding power. I would never choose a favorite between the two; I am just very content I have both in the cellar. Drink 2005-2075. 100.
1982 Chateau Pichon-Lalande
What to do while waiting for your Mouton...drink the Pichon-Lalande! Here is one spectacular 1982 where gratification need not be deferred more than the ten minutes it takes for the wine to open up in the decanter. I have been fortunate enough to have crossed paths with this wine three times in the last month, and every time it has shown magically. The bouquet is a flamboyant cornucopia: exploding from the glass with scents of cassis, plums, tobacco, coffee, Pomerol-like herb tones, and toasty oak. On the palate the wine is voluptuous, with layer upon layer of succulent fruit, soft, melting tannins, and a long, lush finish. While other tasters have scored this wine even higher, it does not possess the extra level of depth and extract in the mid-palate of wines such as Latour and Mouton. That said, who can deny the immense seductive appeal of this wine right now; it also possesses the beautiful balance necessary to carry it a long time yet. It is a great Pichon-Lalande. Drink 1995-2010. 95+ .
This is another commune that did fabulously well in 1982. Along with Pauillac, the top St. Juliens will be the longest-lived wines of the vintage, with forty to fifty years of evolution a very real possibility. While the wines as a whole showed very well, there were a couple of major disappointments amongst the St. Juliens. As alluded to above, the Beycheville was corked, and the two stars in the Cordier stable, Gruaud-Larose and Talbot did not show well at all. Both of these wines were clearly marred by dirty aromas and flavors of the barnyard, a "horsiness" that may or may not be attributable to Brettanomyces (a yeast that inflicts the wine with off flavors). Amongst the two, the Talbot was much "cleaner" and showed some signs of being able to evolve positively with further bottle age. The Gruaud-Larose on the other hand, is a much more risky venture that shows little promise of ever "cleaning up" with more cellaring. After mentioning my disappointments with Gruaud to a number of collectors who own the wine and proceeded to taste it, I feel that everyone who has a few bottles should taste from their cache. While not all bottles showed as "barnyardy" as my couple of samples, more than 75 percent of the bottles tasted were marred by excessively "off" bouquets and palates. Granted, statistically, a dozen or so bottles (all originating in the Northeast market) are not a representative sample out of 30,000+ cases, but there is certainly reason for caution. I have not had enough 1959 or 1961 St. Julien's (a terrible reality) to speak with any knowledge how the vintages stack up in the commune. Certainly 1982 possessed very few weak players, and it terms of subsequent vintages of the 1980s, I cannot give the nod to any single year over the 1982s. Now, about those 1959s and 1961s...
1982 Chateau Branaire-Ducru
For early consumption, Branaire has been one of the most rewarding 1982s. Atypically big and lush for this wine, it possesses a "user-friendly" style that has been delicious since its arrival here. At twelve years of age, it shows no signs of slowing down or fading away: the bouquet is lovely, with scents of chocolate, cherry, cassis, herb tones, leather, and plenty of sweet vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is medium-full and lush, with plump, sweet fruit nicely framed by soft, melting tannins. Not overly structured, and not holding a lot in reserve these days, I would opt for drinking this wine over the next ten years. Drink 1995-2005. 89.
1982 Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou
Ducru-Beaucaillou has been a very quiet "super Second Growth" over the last five to ten years, without the same glamorous appeal generate by such wines such as Leoville las Cases, Pichon-Lalande, and, most recently, Pichon-Baron. While the wines of the mid-eighties onward may not have the same flash as other "hot" chateaux, the '82 Ducru is an indisputable star of the vintage. One of the most backward Medocs, Ducru offers a stunning package of super sweet cassis fruit, plums, berries, a touch of chocolate, tobacco and spicy, cedary wood. This wine just kept getting better and better while it sat in the glass. On the palate this is the most powerfully constructed Ducru since the 1961, a rich, classically structured wine, strong with extract and firm tannins. It requires at least five more years of cellaring. An exceptionally fine bottle, the '82 Ducru-Beaucaillou should be drunk between 2002 and 2050. 93.
1982 Chateau Gruaud-Larose
I can remember vividly how excited I was to unearth a case of this highly-regarded wine very late in the game, when I purchased a superbly stored cellar of claret in the late1980s. At that time, this wine was virtually impossible to locate in the market, and commanding a heady tariff. Well, this is the third time I have had this wine in the last twelve months, and the remainder of my case has been passed on to those with more faith than myself. This wine has gotten worse each time I have tasted it; plagued by a fecal, barnyardy aroma that requires an extreme act of bravery to get beyond the nose and put the wine in one's mouth. Once there, the scatological qualities of the nose carry through on the palate, with the levels of highly-extracted fruit marred for this taster by the barnyard. Collectors with a cache of this wine in their cellar would be well-advised to pull a cork now and determine whether or not that slot in the cellar might not be better filled with another wine. I cannot imagine that this wine will maintain anywhere near its present value once people start tasting this, so unload it sooner, rather than later. 75.
1982 Chateau Leoville-Barton
Now here is a success story of epic proportions. Reports on this wine have been getting more and more enthusiastic as the years have gone by, and the most recent showing of it was spectacular. Always a good value in any vintage, in 1982, a vintage renowned for steals (because of the artificially high dollar at the time), this may well be the finest bargain! In a flight of Latour, Las Cases, Barton, and Gruaud, this wine was magical: deep, rich and very complex, with a weight and extract this chateau has not demonstrated in decades. The nose explodes from the glass with scents of cassis, black cherry, tobacco, loads of minerals and cedary wood. Impeccably-balanced and built for decades of life ahead of it, this profound wine should still be cellared for another three or four years. It is an experience! Drink 2000-2040. 94.
1982 Chateau Leoville las Cases
Leoville las Cases is one of my very favorite chateaux, and as much as I would like to say that it is of First Growth quality and deserves promotion, when tasted alongside the monuments created at Latour, Lafite, Mouton and Margaux in 1982, one can see why "terroir" is so important. Rated perfect elsewhere, this is a great, great wine by any stretch of the imagination, but just a bit down the scales from the top handful of wines in 1982. However, who can resist its profound bouquet of super sweet black cherries, cassis, coffee, herbs, minerals, and toasty new oak. On the palate the wine shows a "creaminess" to the fruit (most often associated with very old vine Grand Cru Burgundies), as well as much sweet fruit as one can cram into a bottle of wine. The structure is excellent, the tannins are quite firm, and the wait for this fabulous wine must go on for another six to eight years. For those with more bottles than me, try it around the turn of the century; I will (try to) hold mine until 2010! Drink 2002-2050. 97.
1982 Chateau Leoville-Poyferre
Since the breakup of the former Chateau Leoville, has there ever been a vintage like 1982, where all three portions of the old vineyard succeeded to such a degree? Poyferre, one of the notorious under achievers in the Bordeaux hierarchy, did phenomenally well in 1982. The nose is gorgeous: sweet cassis, licorice, tobacco, tons of soil tones (Poyferre at its best has a beautiful expression of terroir), and cedary wood. A delicious wine on the palate, with more complexity and development showing here than in most 1982s; the hallmark sweet fruit of the vintage is displayed here in spades. A concentrated and very elegant wine, the 1982 Poyferre is already a good drink, but should continue its upward evolution for the rest of the century, and drink marvelously for the first twenty years of the twenty-first century. A beautiful wine. Drink 1997-2020. 92.
1982 Chateau Talbot
Up until recently, this is another Cordier wine of which I owned a case. After tasting this wine, (having already swapped it to claret loyalists during the passionate frenzy of the 1990 Red Burgundy campaign), I was happy to have a few extra bottles of pinot in the cellar. In the past six months, I have had the '82 Talbot at least half a dozen times, with consistent tasting notes. Like its stablemate, Gruaud-Larose, this wine was also marred by "off" barnyard aromas. Though not as pronounced as the Gruaud, the "horsiness" of this wine was far from attractive. Underneath, the 1982 Talbot had plenty of ripe cassis fruit, tobacco and cedar on the nose. On the palate the wine was medium-full, fat and concentrated , with ripe tannins and a long finish. The barnyardy aromas and flavors of the '82 Talbot may recede a bit over time, (I am not so sure that this will happen with its stablemate, Gruaud-Larose) and produce a solid, drinkable claret. However, this is by no means one of the stars of the vintage. 84.
In the commune of Margaux, 1983 is the legendary vintage of the early 1980s, rather than 1982. Other than Chateau Margaux, there is a dearth of great wines in this commune in 1982. While Chateau Palmer is a charming, lush (albeit, soft-centered) fruit bomb, it lacks the depth and grip of the best vintages (such as 1966, 1970 or 1983) of this star property. 1982 also marked the start of a slump at Chateau Giscours (perhaps Margaux's consistently finest chateau through the 1970-1981 period), and was a year or two too early for the renaissance at Rausan-Segla. D'Angludet and Prieurie-Lichine are solid 86-87 point wines, but, as with so many other chateaux in Margaux, their 1983s are much more serious examples. With all this (relative) mediocrity in the commune, it is ironic that my vote for wine of the vintage should hail from Margaux.
1982 Chateau Margaux
In a vintage so rich in great wines, the 1982 Chateau Margaux stands at the very pinnacle. There are a "baker's dozen" of legendary wines in this vintage, but Margaux is stylistically my favorite of this exalted crowd. In many ways, its breathtaking bouquet and opulent, "creamy" texture of fruit is most reminiscent of a great, great Grand Cru Burgundy. In many ways, 1982 Margaux is the closest thing I have tasted to my ideal of Richebourg. Along with such wines as Mouton-Rothschild and Petrus, Margaux possesses a level of extract, balance, and complexity that occurs only a handful of times in a century. When this uncanny combination of power, focus, and breed is tied to a wine of profound perfume, the result is one of the legends of the century. The nose explodes from the glass with scents of super-ripe cherries, cassis, violets, coffee, meaty tones, herbs, minerals and toasty new oak. On the palate the wine is pure perfection, with fabulous depth, a "creamy" glycerin-laden texture, a huge core of sweet fruit, precise balance, and a long, long, complex and tannic finish. Nowhere near its peak of perfection, the 1982 Margaux requires a good eight to ten more years in the cellar. Having some of this in the cellar will not protect you from the craving for more! Drink this work of art from 2005-2050. 100+.
A great vintage for numerous petits chateaux, most of these charming wines were drunk up during the late 1980s. Having not seen most of these wines in years, I would speculate that only a few are still moving upward along their quality arc, and will repay further patience. In addition to the three wines listed below, I would suspect that Poujeaux (85 points, sweet, lush but not as well structured as the 1986) and Potensac (a very surprising 87 points in 1988, but not seen subsequently) are still quite delicious, but with further waiting fraught with risk. I drank a case of Latour de By in the late 1980s (thoroughly enjoying the wine and its $4.49 price tag!), but I suspect that that wine is now past its best. I have never crossed paths with Gressier Grand Poujeaux.
1982 Chateau La Lagune
1982 marked the final burst to the finish line for this once rundown and neglected chateau. The seeds of quality improvement planted in the mid-1970s bore fruit with a string of superb vintages commencing with this beautiful 1982. At thirteen years of age, it is drinking beautifully, with a wonderful bouquet of plum, black cherry, coffee, herb tones, minerals and toasty new oak. Early on, this wine was quite marked by the "roasted" character of the vintage, but has evolved into a big-scaled, classic La Lagune. On the palate, the wine is rich and sumptuous, with layers of ripe fruit, soft tannins, and a long, complex, juicy finish. The 1982 La Lagune has been delicious since its release, but has just reached its peak over the last couple of years, where it will continue to excite the senses for another fifteen to twenty years. A beautiful bottle...drink 1995-2015. 90.
1982 Chateau Sociando-Mallet
One of the great commercial success stories of the 1980s, Sociando-Mallet burst into the hearts of claret lovers in the US with this beautiful wine. Sociando is always a bit tough and chewy in its youth, (though with no shortage of depth and stuffing), but the 1982 is evolving beautifully now, with a degree of elegance and balance that would make many a Third Growth proud in this vintage. The wine jumps from the glass with scents of sweet cassis, violets, herbs, minerals, and spicy, cedary wood. On the palate it is medium-full and deep, with lovely balance and a surprisingly elegant and complex finish. The tannins are melting away, leaving a delicious wine for drinking over the next two decades. I was frankly surprised that the 1982 Sociando would turn out to be this stylish; I guess I should have cellared more! 90.
1982 Chateau Chasse-Spleen
Chasse-Spleen is quite successful in 1982, though this is a chateau whose wines do not seem to develop the same level of complexity when mature as I would expect from a top Cur Bourgeois. I have had a fair amount of Chasse-Spleen from the 1979, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986 vintages, and while the wine holds admirably and always delivers a fine, fleshy mouthful of fruit, its level of complexity has consistently been more along the lines of a California cabernet. It has been a few years since I last saw the '82 Chasse Spleen, and at that time I was very impressed by the beautiful bouquet of sweet cassis, toasted almonds, tobacco, coffee and toasty new oak. cabernet. It has late, the wine could not carry through the sweetness and complexity that the bouquet promised. Medium-full, fleshy and rather four-square on the palate, with melting tannins, adequate focus, and a long, chunky finish. It is a fine, tasty wine that I would be happy to drink, but it is not a bottle that I feel a need to cellar. 1997-2010. 86.
This commune did not have across the board success in 1982. While both Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion fashioned outstanding wines in this vintage, the remainder of the commune did not perform at the same high level as did comparable wines from chateaux in St. Julien or Pauillac. Domaine de Chevalier did not do as well as it is capable, Pape Clement had yet to start it resurgence, La Louviere (85 points when last tasted in the late 1980s) was not aspiring to the same level it currently realizes, and Haut Bailly (not present at these most recent tastings, but always a fine, 87-89 point wine) is a pretty, Pomerol look-alike that lacks both the depth and grip to be truly exciting. Other than La Mission Haut Brion, the wines of the Graves are quite forward and about as good as they are going to get right now, so holding them will become more risky as time goes by. I can think of a number of vintages where the wines of the Graves are at least as strong as the 1982s: 1978, 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990 immediately come to mind. However, the quality of the 1959s and 1964s that I have tasted leads me to conclude that these two vintages are superior to the vintages of the 1980s in Graves.
1982 Domaine de Chevalier
There are numerous reports of extreme bottle variation with this wine, so perhaps I have just been lucky. But, once again, the 1982 Domaine de Chevalier proved a pleasant surprise and performed well in this tasting. While not possessing the superb depth and lushness of fruit that this chateau shows in its best vintages, the much-maligned 1982 showed plenty of sweet, cherry and plum fruit, roasted tobacco tones, earth, and toasty new oak on the nose. There was also some peppery tones that I associate with rot (the undoing of this wine in 1982), but certainly within manageable levels. The wine is medium-bodied and sweet on the palate, with reasonable depth and complexity on the finish. I would definitely opt for drinking this wine up over the next couple of years, just in case the "pepperiness" starts to take over as the fruit recedes a bit. Not a great Domaine de Chevalier, but certainly a good, solid, serviceable wine. 86.
1982 Chateau Haut Brion
In 1982, Haut Brion must live in the shadow of the other First Growths, not to mention succeeding vintages of Haut Brion. Tasted in the context of 1982's top dozen wines, this superb bottle of wine is not created on the same monumental scale and displays less pure extract than the best wines of the vintage. However, tasted on its own, the richness, depth and thickness of fruit in this wine are stunning. I think 1982 is less an example of missed potential at Haut Brion than it is a testament to the awe-inspiring successes witnessed at chateaux such as Mouton, Margaux and others. Certainly, Haut Brion's record in all other subsequent vintages of the 1980s makes the chateau a candidate (along with Lafite-Rothschild) for the most consistently excellent First Growth of the decade. 1982 Haut Brion will forever be seen as somehow disappointing, but, make no mistake, this is an excellent wine! The bouquet is classic Haut Brion: packed with sweet layers of blackcurrants, roasted plums, meaty tones, burnt tobacco, earth, herbs, black truffles, coffee, and toasty oak. Full-bodied and lush on the palate, with layers of smoky fruit, round, melting tannins, a big, juicy core of fruit, and a long, complex, and quite powerful finish. This was the first vintage of what marked a return in the 1980s to the more powerful style of Haut Brion. Drinking beautifully now, the '82 Haut Brion is just entering it s plateau of maturity, and will continue to delight the senses for another twenty to thirty years. It is a wonderful insurance policy to have in the cellar to protect the 1989 Haut Brion from infanticide! Drink 1997-2025. 94.
1982 Chateau La Mission Haut Brion
The tasting in December of 1995 marked the first opportunity I had to taste the '82 La Mission in five to six years, ( I have subsequently had the wine on three other occasions) and I was not prepared to discover a wine of such immense power and proportions. Early showings of this wine revealed a lush, but somewhat easy-going La Mission of great sweetness, but only modest (by La Mission's standards) backbone and structure. However, the years have been more than kind to this baby: today the '82 La Mission is a brooding, powerful wine of First Growth weight and complexity, with layer upon layer of fruit, laser-like focus, very firm structure, and a mammoth, long, tannic finish. The bouquet is just spectacular, with scents of ripe cassis, tobacco, "Graves earth", minerals, and cedary wood. This wine is marked by a very strong sense of extract, great structure, and the potential to evolve fabulously in the bottle over the next fifty years. Perhaps not quite at the same level as the 1975 (or is it just stylistically a touch more polite?), the '82 is right up there with the surreal 1989 produced at this property! One of the wines of the vintage! Drink 2005-2050. 96.
In 1982, the tiny commune of Pomerol put together a lineup of superstars that made "The Dream Team" look like a group of gangly freshman prospects. Perusing through the labels of these wines before they were opened and concealed, one could feel the adrenaline pumping throughout the room. When the dust had settled a few hours later, with satisfaction written across the faces of all concerned, the immensity of the vintage in Pomerol was readily apparent. Whether the vintage will ultimately hit its highest communal peaks in Pauillac or Pomerol is a (tasty) question that will have to wait another few decades to be decided. But in terms of breadth and depth of consistently spectacular wines, the Pomerols of 1982 tower above the quality of the Pomerol vintages of 1970, 1975, 1985, 1989 and 1990. And these wines are still very young, with the top wines as unevolved as the most concentrated left bank wines. I am a huge fan of the 1975 Pomerols, but only Lafleur is better in this vintage than in 1982. The '89s and '90s will certainly produce its share of legendary bottles, but it is far too early to determine whether or not these vintages will be able to keep pace with the 1982s. Certainly, vintages such as 1964, 1961, 1959, 1950-1945 represent the golden age of Pomerol, but my all too few notes on the wines from this period make me unqualified to comment on the relative merits of these vintages vis a vis the 1982s. I will say, that as magnificent as the 1982 Pomerols are, to my mind 1975 marks the last vintage of the "old style" thick and powerful Pomerols of the post-war era. Wines such as L'Evangile and Lafleur are significantly more polished in 1982. For those lucky and ingenious enough to be sitting on a cache of the 1982 Pomerols, the first decade of the next millennium promises to be extraordinarily promising. (Of the satellite appellations surrounding Pomerol, I have had a couple of delicious bottles of the Lalande de Pomerol, Grand Ormeau in the early 1990s. It was not overly complex, but a lovely, medium-full Pomerol look-alike of sweet berry and plummy fruit, chocolate, truffles, grilled nuts and vanillin oak. I would still look for this 88 point wine to drink well through 2002.)
1982 Chateau Bon Pasteur
Like so many other tasters, this is the finest example of Bon Pasteur that I have ever tasted. However, it is by no means in the same league as the finest wines of this vintage. Yes, the exotically opulent fruit of the vintage is on display here, but the backbone and structure that the most exciting 1982s possess is nowhere to be found in this wine. Don't get me wrong, I love the wine, but we need to put a little more perspective back into the equation. The bouquet is an exotic, Cornas look-alike, with scents of crushed raspberries, cherry, grilled meats, peppery tones, herbs and fruit cake, all wrapped up in spicy wood. On the palate the wine is big and flamboyant, with loads of fruit, soft tannins, and a long, tasty finish. Drinking very, very well right now, the '82 Bon Pasteur should provide dramatic dinner parties for the next ten to fifteen years. Drink 1995- 2010. 91
1982 Chateau Certan de May
Here we are into the Larry Bird level of Pomerol performance. The 1982 Certan de May is a profound bottle of wine, with the depth, the balance, and the power to deliver legendary performances for the next fifty or so years. Still quite young, the bouquet (while tight), is staggering, with scents of cassis, plum, coffee, herbs, minerals, chocolate and toasty oak unfolding in the glass. On the palate the wine is fabulously deep and rich, with a tremendous core of fruit, great complexity, firm tannins, and perfect balance. An immense wine that trades more on potential than realization at this point, I would let this beauty continue sleeping for ten more years. There is just too much that will be going on then to pop a bottle or two now (no, not even for medicinal purposes), and miss the exhilarating ride the 1982 Certan de May will deliver around 2005. Drink 2000 (if you cannot contain yourself)- 2040. 96+.
1982 Chateau La Conseillante
This is a wine that has been plagued by bad shipping or storage in the New York retail market since the late 1980s. I vividly remember how excited I was to pick up a half case of this wine very late in the game from a certain NYC retailer (no names, he knows who he is, and should be ashamed for ruining this wine...criminal), only to pull the cork and find a chocolate-covered, pruney, pickle in my glass. However, I am glad to report that the wine is lovely (if you did not buy it from the same source that I did), with a bouquet of plums, coffee, dill, chocolate, minerals and toasty new oak. Fullish, pure, and beautifully-delineated on the palate, with lovely mineral tones, moderate tannins, and a note of bitter chocolate on the finish. The 1982 La Conseillante is tasty now, but will continue to improve over the next four to five years. Qualitatively, the '82 La Conseillante is not far behind the 1985, but certainly not in the same league as the "dynamic duo" of 1989 and 1990. Expect it to peak around the turn of the century, and drink well for twenty years. Drink 2000-2020. 91.
1982 Chateau L'Evangile
January of 1996 marked the first and only time that I have crossed paths with this great wine, and though other tasters alluded to less impressive showings of the 1982 L'Evangile, this particular bottle was absolutely magnificent. Having tasted the 1985 and 1990 on numerous occasions, I have to put the 1982 (along with the 1975) at the next level up from those two superb wines. The nose explodes from the glass with scents of grilled nuts, cassis, tobacco, coffee, herbs, stones, and toasty oak. On the palate the wine is huge, beautifully balanced, with a strong sense of extract, great terroir, chewy tannins, and a long, powermonger of a finish. Certainly approachable now, the 1982 L'Evangile is still mounting a charge for the heady atmosphere of the very summit of the vintage, and demands another five to seven years of cellaring. I am hard-pressed to state a preference between the even bigger, thicker, old-fashioned 1975 L'Evangile (built along the same lines as some of the legendary Pomerols of the late-1940s and 1950s) and this profound 1982. Drink this magical bottle from 2002-2040. 95.
1982 Chateau Le Gay
This has never been one of my favorite chateaux, so my score may well be a bit conservative (not a bad thing in this age of grade hyperinflation), but the wine always seems to exhibit a coarseness and rusticity which, in my experience, never dissipates. The 1982 Le Gay is once again plagued by this phenomenon, with a fine nose offset by a wave of bitter, hard tannins on the palate. The bouquet is sweet and quite appealing, with plum, blackberry, meaty tones, earth and shoe polish (a la Guigal's La Landonne in its youth). On the palate the wine shows some of the bouquet's sweetness of the attack, but from the mid-palate back, it is harsh, astringent and bitter. The tannins are hard, hard, hard, and barring an act of divine intervention, will be around a lot longer than the fruit. I would opt for drinking this wine sooner, rather than later, before the already questionable balance between fruit and tannin begins to really deteriorate. An old-fashioned (not in the best sense) Pomerol for those with a predilection for gambling. Drink 1995-2005? 82.
1982 Chateau Lafleur
In late 1988, I had the miraculous good fortune to come upon a case of this wine in a closing restaurant's wine cellar. The wine had been bought as a future and stored beautifully, and I was able to obtain it at a fraction of its market price. Consequently, I am a bit ashamed to say that the 1982 Lafleur is one of the '82s on which I have the most tasting notes. At the January '96 right bank tasting, this was my last bottle from that case. While I have felt extremely guilty about consuming this wine in its youth, I am not sure that it was not best in the early days of its youth. Time may well prove me wrong, but my scores on this wine, while still excellent, have slipped down a bit over the handful of years that it took me to consume my dozen bottles. There is an element of overripeness in the fruit element of this wine that has been moving steadily towards prunes and raisins over the last couple of years, and while it is still delicious, this is one chateau where I can name a handful of other vintages from the 1980s which I prefer. In January it performed as expected, with a bouquet of fruit cake, red currants, prune, chocolate, ginger, tobacco and cedary wood. Big, full and chocolatey on the palate, with impressive extract, firm tannins, and a very long finish. If this wine did not slide over into overipe flavors, it would merit a good five points higher. A fine wine, but in the context of the vintage, given the (un)usual high standards of Lafleur, the 1982 is just a touch disappointing. Drink 1995-2030. 92+.
1982 Chateau Latour a Pomerol
This is one of my favorite vintages for Latour a Pomerol. During the January '96 tasting, this wine showed wonderfully, with the richness and opulence of 1982 Pomerol dramatically on display. While not quite in the same league as the very best right bank wines, the '82 Latour a Pomerol is a stunning, classically-styled Pomerol. The bouquet is lovely, with scents of sweet cassis, plum, peppery tones, herbs, minerals, and a fine coating of new vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is thick with fruit, with excellent balance, round, ripe tannins, and a long, complex finish. A delicious drink now, the 1982 Latour a Pomerol is still on its way up the quality ladder, and should continue improving for the next seven to ten years. Drink this beautiful, delicious wine from 2000-2025. 93.
1982 Chateau Petite Village
I have not had this wine in years, so this bottle may well have been unrepresentative. While there was plenty of the plump fruit that Petite Village usually shows, there was also a nasty component to the nose that is best described as smoldering rubber hose. Underneath the off aromas, there was plenty of prune and chocolate tones, but this wine lacked both depth and extract on the palate. If this bottle was typical of the wine, it should have been drunk up a few years ago. By 1982 Pomerol standards, the '82 Petite Village is a major disappointment. (As a further aside, the '88 Petite Village was also tasted recently, and while a delicious 89 point wine, is clearly ready to drink. If you have a critical mass of this wine, make plans to monitor it closely.) 82?
1982 Chateau Petrus
For the life of me, I cannot understand all the criticism that this wine has attracted over the last seven or eight years. Dubbed (or cursed) with one of the first 100 point scores in The Wine Advocate, this profound Petrus has had to live through its adolescence in the shadow of as much hype as any wine of the last fifty years. In spite of this, the '82 Petrus is one of the monuments of the vintage. It is at least as backward as Mouton Rothschild, but with a depth, complexity, sense of extract, and purity of fruit that no wine in 1982 will surpass. As for power, it is in a class by itself in 1982, with an extra dimension of richness and palate precision coupled to a rich, thick, unctuous texture. However, like Mouton, this wine needs plenty more time in the cellar. The nose is magnificent, but still quite closed, with a potpourri of cherry, plum, red currants, tobacco, coffee, loads of minerals, and a firm coating of toasty new oak. Epically proportioned on the palate, with layer upon layer of perfectly ripe fruit, firm tannins, and as strong a sense soil inflection as any wine in 1982, this is a historic wine that just needs much more time in the cellar. I would not even think about opening it for another ten years, not that it is unapproachable (backward as it is), but because this is one of the greatest wines of our lifetimes, and deserves the chance to attain its ultimate level of vinous expression. Drink this magical wine (in hushed silence or wild abandon) from 2005-2050. PS, the 1985 Petrus is another celestial wine (a conservative 95+ when tasted in late January) that has taken its lumps in the press lately; for those with the requisite clout, it is a relative bargain. 100
1982 Chateau Le Pin
Why on earth would one score a wine 99+? Because the wine is perfect, but it will not possess the same longevity that wines such as Petrus, Margaux, and Mouton will offer through the first half of the next century. Somehow, the ability of a wine to offer, in this case an extra twenty to thirty years of prime time drinking at the summit needs to be recognized with that extra half point. But honestly, I could drink this wine every night for a year and never tire of its flamboyant bouquet and opulent, sumptuous palate. Along with Cheval Blanc, the '82 Le Pin is by far the most magnificent wine of the vintage to drink at the present time, with a bouquet that literally fills the room with scents of cassis, red currants, chocolate, tobacco, herb tones, coffee, minerals, and sweet, toasty new oak. The nose just churns from the glass as if there were some sort of chemical reaction taking place in the glass, manufacturing fresh scents every few seconds. To call this wine multi-dimensional is a gross understatement. On the palate the wine is as dramatic a glass of wine as I have ever tasted: deep, complex, beautifully balanced, and ostentatious in its delivery of thick, incredibly ripe fruit. The tannins are moderate at this point, beginning to melt away, but the wine is so beautifully constructed, that the balance should easily carry it another twenty years. "If this be dreamin', don't wake me up, I want to ride this wave all night..." Drink 1995- 2015. 99+.
1982 Chateau Trotanoy
Anybody else longing for this chateau to set its house back in order? The 1982 Trotanoy is another of those wines of which legends are made. But, do not open this wine now, as it is nowhere near its peak of maturity; it begs for (at the very least) the rest of this century to sleep in the cellar. Having sadly wasted one of my few bottles of this five years ago, (when a put a bit too much stock in other reviewers), I was pleased to see how spectacular the remainder of my cache will be in another seven or (better yet) ten years. This is a monumental Trotanoy that ranks right up there with the 1961 (it is significantly better than the beautiful 1970 or 1971), with a profound bouquet of plums, mocha, tobacco, minerals, herbs and toasty oak. On the palate this is another big-boned, thick and enthralling Pomerol, with perfect balance, ripe tannins, and a long, lush, powerful finish. Expect it to peak around 2005, and stun wine lovers for the next thirty to forty years! I have had the good fortune over the last eighteen months to taste on multiple occasions a number of the top recent vintages of Trotanoy (1967, 1970, 1971, 1975, and 1982), and I am hard pressed to not envision this vintage towering over all of those magnificent wines. And believe me, all of those wines are profound. But, the 1982 is the best....enjoy. 2002-2055. 96+.
1982 Vieux Chateau Certan
Vieux Chateau Certan has made some of the most beautiful wines in Pomerol in past vintages, but, unfortunately, the 1982 is not one of their best efforts. While the wine displays plenty of extract and fruit on the palate, there is a hardness and rusticity that is atypical of both this lovely chateau and the 1982 vintage. On the nose the wine is beginning to display a bit of underripeness, with scents of pickles intruding on the nose of plums, herbal notes, coffee and earth. While the wine is not bad, my suspicion is that the vegetal character in this wine is one the ascendancy, and it is best to drink it up now, before the flavors become less appealing and the fruit dries out. I feared that this bottle may not have been representative, but other well-seasoned tasters report that the showing was typical of their experiences with the '82 VCC. Drink 1995-2005? 86.
A wonderful vintage is St. Emilion, this commune only suffers from the lack of chateaux performing as well in 1982 as are currently at the top of their game. Names such as Troplong-Mondot, Tertre Roteboeuf, Beausejour-Duffau, L'Angelus, Canon la Gaffeliere, and Pavie-Macquin were not producing such top flight wines in 1982 as they do today, so this is one of the few communes where the nod has to be given to both 1989 and 1990 over 1982.
1982 Chateau L'Arrosee
Having enjoyed on numerous occasions the '85 and 86 L'Arrosee immensely, I was looking forward to crossing paths with the 1982. In this most recent tasting, it did not disappoint: a beautiful bouquet of cherry, cassis, tobacco, coffee, herb tones, toasty new oak jumped from the glass. On the palate the wine was deep and complex, with fine extract and structure, and a long, moderately tannic finish. Clearly as good as the '85 or '86, the 1982 L'Arrosee still needs two or three more years in the cellar to reach its plateau of maturity, where it should continue to delight for fifteen to twenty more years. It is certainly not a wine that reminds me of Burgundy, but rather a classically flavored St. Emilion with a rather opulent and sumptuous personality. Certainly a wonderful L'Arrosee. Drink 1998-2020. 91.
1982 Chateau Ausone
This is another wine that has suffered from mishandling in the US. While I had never had a good bottle of this wine previously, friends of mine told me that there were phenomenal bottles out there. It seems that a large percentage of the 82 Ausone available on the eastern seaboard was imported by a west coast firm, who shipped the wine into California first, and then trucked it back across the US to the east coast. All my previous tastings of this wine were from this west coast importer, and the wines displayed signs of having been exposed to excessive heat, clearly lacking freshness of fruit, depth, and brightness and length on the finish. However, having now tasted a pristine example, I am happy to confirm that this is indeed one of the wines of the vintage. The nose is just magnificent, with scents of bing cherries, plums, grilled nuts, herbal tones, tobacco, loads of terroir, and a deft coating of toasty new oak. On the palate the wine is rich and sumptuous, with laser-like focus, fresh acidity, and a long, complex, tannic finish. Still five to seven years away from its peak, the 1982 Ausone will drink magically to the turning point of the next century. Drink this great, great wine from 2002-2050. 95+
1982 Chateau Canon
Canon is one of my favorite wines in St. Emilion, which when fully mature, reminds me stylistically of the great wines that Ric Forman briefly fashioned at Sterling Vineyards in the mid-1970s. Another superb 1982, Canon in 1997 is still one of the most backward wines in the entire commune. Built for the long haul, this wine is still quite closed and reticent. With coaxing, it displays a deep, rich bouquet of cassis, tobacco, herbs, chocolate, earth, and a touch of oak. Very deep and full-bodied on the palate, with layers of ripe fruit buttoned up tight right now, the 1982 Canon needs six to eight more years to shed it s tannic grip. Given this wine's still very closed nature, it is extremely difficult to project the ultimate level of nuance and complexity it will deliver at maturity. Today the wine seems destined to be a bit chunky and four-square (albeit thick, sweet and powerful), but given how well vintages such as 1929, 1961, 1964 and 1971 have shown over the last year, I fear that my projected score is going to be proven quite conservative. Drink this powerful Canon from 2003-2040. 91+.
1982 Chateau Cheval Blanc
Having had the pleasure to taste all the major post-war vintages of Cheval Blanc except (alas) the 1949, I can state that this is the finest Cheval Blanc I have ever tasted. As impressive as the 1947 is, this wine has it beat in terms of focus, balance, and believe it or not, flamboyance. Among the 1982 Bordeaux, (along with Le Pin), this is the most exhilarating ride that can be taken at the present time. Amazingly, this wine has even seemed to close up a bit over the last two or three years, and may yet go into hibernation for a period of time. However, the 1982 Cheval Blanc may well be the '82 First Growth that has been most widely consumed over the first fifteen years of its life, having drunk magically since its first days on American shores. As profound as this wine is today, it is still going to improve, and really begs for another ten years of cool, quiet development in the cellar. The nose just explodes from the glass with scents of super-ripe black cherries, menthol, tobacco, coffee, minerals, and plenty of toasty new oak. On the palate the wine is huge and flamboyant, with layer upon cascading layer of fruit, impeccable balance, moderate tannins, and a mammoth, long finish. While near perfection now, there is plenty in reserve in this wine, so keep your hands off of it (if you can) until 2005. Drink this monumental effort between 2005-2050. 99.
1982 Chateau La Dominique
As fine a bottle of La Dominique as I have tasted, the 1982 is just beginning to hit its peak of maturity. The wine has been delicious since release (hence my large quantity of tasting notes, but paucity of bottles in the cellar today). The bouquet is wonderful, with pure and penetrating aromas of red cherries, tobacco, juniper berries, herbs, coffee, truffles, and cedary wood wafting from the glass. On the palate it is poised, elegant, and medium-full, with great delineation of flavor, soft tannins, and a long, complex finish. Stylistically, this is a step up for my palate from the more powerful, but obvious style of the 1989. Drink this beautiful wine over the next twenty years. Maturity: 1995-2015. 90.
1982 Chateau Figeac
One of the all-time great Figeacs, this wine just seems to get better and better every time I come back to it. Richer and deeper than most recent offerings from this chateau, the nose is a wonderful potpourri of chocolate, cherry, plum, coffee, mustard seed, minerals, and sweet vanillin oak. Much like Chateau Palmer on the left bank, when Figeac hits a homerun, it is one of the most beautifully perfumed wines in all of Bordeaux. On the palate it is full-bodied and lush, with layers of ripe fruit, superb balance, moderate tannins, and a long, beautifully-focused finish. While it is approachable (and delicious) now, I would defer gratification for another four to six years to really let it arrive at its peak of maturity. After Cheval Blanc and Ausone, this is the finest wine of the commune in 1982. Drink 2002-2030. 94.
1982 Chateau Larmande
Larmande is a chateau that one rarely sees in the US market, and if the 1982 is typical of what this chateau's potential, keep an eye out for this chateau. It is a powerfully constructed, black fruity style of St. Emilion that in 1982, is clearly built for the long haul. One of the real sleepers of the vintage, the 1982 Larmande performed beautifully at this tasting. The nose is deep and flamboyant, with scents of black cherries, herbal tones, earth, and plenty of toasty new oak. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, deep and rich, with plenty of ripe fruit, fine balance, and still a fair bit of tannin on the finish. Give this impressive wine a few more years to soften and hit its stride. Drink 2000-2015. 89+.
1982 Chateau Pavie
A very good Pavie, this wine's style keeps it down a bit on my scorecard. While it has 55 percent Merlot in the blend, the '82 Pavie's nose is dominated with a "weedy" cabernet aroma that I most often associate with California. Scents of cherry, tobacco, minerals, and coffee intermingle with the herbaceousness in the bouquet, but the overall impression is one of bell peppers. On the palate the wine is deep and full, but a bit chunky and inelegant, with firm tannins, plenty of depth, and a long, fairly-tannic finish. Lacking the balance and complexity of the most successful chateaux in Pavie's class, this is a solid wine that still needs a couple more years to soften. Drink 1998-2010. 87.