Wine Tasting: 1996 Bordeaux (21st Apr 1999)

A tasting of 11 clarets and a Sauternes in Glasgow - presented by Sarah Springett.
The wines had been opened 6 to 8 hours in advance and had softened considerably.

1. 1996 Beaumont Haut Medoc

21st Apr 1999 GBP9 Bordeaux Table Red

Very deep red/black, gradually fading to rim.
Open, perfumed, concentrated nose of blackcurrant and leather.
Medium-bodied with attractive sweet cassis/plum fruit and a hint of leaf.
Soft tannins, warm acidity and a decent finish.
Young but drinking well now and over the next 2/3 years.

2. 1996 Cissac Bordeaux

21st Apr 1999 GBP12 Bordeaux Table Red

Opaque purple/red at core, with some fading at the rim.
Chalky, animal notes on the nose with a dash of oak and perfumed cassis and mint aromas coming through.
Light to medium-bodied with flavours of cherries, plums, cedar and tobacco.
Dry with grippy tannins and oak coming through on a decent finish.
Still closed, needs at least 2 to 3 years.

3. 1996 Lagrange Fiefs de Lagrange

21st Apr 1999 GBP13 Bordeaux Table Red

Opaque red/purple with some paling at rim.
Perfumed nose with cassis, mint and leafy aromas - a touch of almonds and oak coming through.
Fairly full with intense, pure, sweet cassis fruit.
Well rounded with firm tannins and good balance.
Long, minty, dry finish.
Very impressive now with food, but should be kept for 3 to 6 years.

4. 1996 Lagrange Bordeaux

21st Apr 1999 GBP25 Bordeaux Table Red

Opaque purple with gradual fading to pink/purple.
Attractive, perfumed nose of pure cassis and a hint of leafiness.
Medium bodied with very soft, ripe tannins; lush cassis fruit; animal and oaky notes; and a warm, long, dry finish.
Young but mouthfilling with excellent texture - Drink now or in 6 to 7 years.

5. 1996 Lafon-Rochet Bordeaux

21st Apr 1999 GBP19 Bordeaux Table Red

Opaque purple/red with some paling at rim.
Closed with some lurking leather and plum aromas - there is obviously a core of fruit in there but it isn't showing yet.
Medium bodied with a pure cassis fruit, warm acidity, plenty of alcohol and firm, slightly masked, tannins.
Some leathery/oaky notes on a long dry finish.
Closed at the moment but shows excellent potential - needs another 6 to 15 years.

6. 1996 Calon-Segur Bordeaux

21st Apr 1999 GBP25 Bordeaux Table Red

Deep ruby, fading evenly to pinkish red.
Much more developed on the nose with leathery, meaty aromas and some plum and cassis fruit - needs time.
Medium to full bodied with rich, soured plum and berry fruit, some stalky, vegetal notes and a dash of old oak.
Warm and balanced with much less aggressive tannins.
Drink now and over the next 8 to 9 years.

7. 1996 Lynch-Moussas Bordeaux

21st Apr 1999 GBP15 Bordeaux Table Red

Opaque black/purple at core, with some fading to a deep red.
Punchy, concentrated nose of cassis, coffee and nutty, charred oak.
Full bodied with sweet, concentrated cassis/plum flavours and an attractive hint of leaf.
Lovely texture with ripe tannins and excellent balance.
Well charred oak comes through on the finish.
Rounded and attractive, this is a bargain although it could do with 3 to 10 years.

8. 1996 Clerc Milion Bordeaux

21st Apr 1999 GBP22 Bordeaux Table Red

Opaque purple/red evenly paling to pink/red.
Fairly intense, vegetal, plummy nose - perfumed but still a bit dumb.
Medium bodied with quite tart berry fruit, charred oak, firm tannins and good balance.
Nicely concentrated, pure fruit but lacking a bit in the mid-palate.
This wine had only arrived 2 days before the tasting and was probably in shock - if it recovers it should be very good in 3 or more years.

9. 1996 Grand Pontet Bordeaux

21st Apr 1999 GBP20 Bordeaux Table Red

Opaque black/red with some gradual pinking towards rim.
Perfumed and pure aromas of cassis, nuts, bark and new oak.
Full bodied with sweet, intense plum fruit; creamy, tangy oak; tobacco and lots of alcohol.
Warm with soft tannins and a long finish.
Very attractive now and over the next 5 to 6 years.

10. 1996 Larmande Bordeaux

21st Apr 1999 GBP20 Bordeaux Table Red

Opaque at core, gradually fading across the whole glass to brown/red.
Dumb, lurking nose with some spicy, animal aromas and a hint of coffee.
Full bodied with sweet berry fruit, ferocious tannins and harsh oak flavours.
Big and chewy with flavours of fur, coffee and sweet plums coming through on a long finish.
A bit chunky and aggressive at the moment - it may come together with time?

11. 1996 Cantenac Brown Bordeaux

21st Apr 1999 GBP19 Bordeaux Table Red

Opaque purple/red with some fading at rim.
Lovely, developed, perfumed, meaty, vegetal nose of soft plum and berry fruit, with some spicy, minty notes.
Full bodied and opulent with a rounded texture and spicy, sweet plum fruit.
Tangy acidity, creamy oak and leather carry through onto a long finish.
Lovely core of fruit and excellent balance.
Superb! Excellent now with food, but really should be hoarded for another 10 years.

12. 1996 Suduiraut Sauternes

21st Apr 1999 GBP14 Bordeaux Dessert White

Bright, pale lemon/gold.
Fresh and pure, with some creamy oak and tart lemon-sorbet aromas.
Full bodied and intense with sweet, honeyed, figgy, creamy botrytis flavours and good acidity.
Superb - open and attractive now but should develop well.
[This wine showed huge variation from glass to glass - the nose on some was fresh, on others it had a heavy botrytis influence. I assume that some sort of residue in the glasses must have emphasised the botrytis, which did eventually start to develop in the other glasses. Unusually, all of the variations that I tasted were attractive.]