1982 Bordeaux

The main event at the annual tasting organized by a dear friend in Atlanta was a blind horizontal tasting of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage in three flights.  I offer these notes in the order in which they were tasted.  I was also fortunate to be present in 2012 for a tasting of the same vintage drawn from the same collection, tasted in the same apartment, with most of the same tasters.  For some reason, I did not rate them then, although I did after this most recent tasting.  The line-up was not exactly the same in 2012, but I include those notes by way of comparison.

Haut-Médoc 1982, Château La Lagune

Mature and starting to fade, this shows eucalyptus, cedar and cigar leaf on the nose along with a bit of cinnamon spice.  The tannins are soft and the finish is somewhat tart.  Time to drink.  **  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

Saint-Julien 1982, Château Léoville-Poyferré

Thoroughly enjoyable and still fairly youthful, this shows black plum aromas accented with a hints of ground coffee, truffle and a hint of brett that will delight some and dismay others.  The texture is round and soft on the palate, and the finish lingers pleasantly at the end.  ****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

Saint-Julien 1982, Château Gruaud-Larose

Tasted blind, this was the wine of the first flight for me.  At this point it is open and drinking well but not overly so, and it is far from being in decline.  To my taste, this wine is a perfect example of a great claret from a great vintage, drinking at its peak.  It shows ripe notes of currant, peppery spice and cigar box, with a silky texture and enough body and structure to support the wine but no astringency or hardness at all.  Marvelous.  *****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: The ’82 Gruaud-Larose shows a bright cherry fruit fruit up front with a cedary edge and a hint of tobacco or cigar leaf.  On the palate the wine is still tannic and fairly dense.  Lacking perhaps a bit of the generosity of the other ‘82s, this is still classic claret, drinking beautifully that will hold for years.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Pauillac 1982, Château Grand Puy Lacoste

Although it was appreciated by the rest of the group, to my taste this was a bit under ripe and showing some frankly unpleasant bell pepper aromas on the notes and rather more acidity on the palate than I would like.  I found the overall effect somewhat harsh, although the wine did open with time to show more generosity and suppleness.  **  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

Saint-Estèphe 1982, Château Cos d’Estournel

This was something of an enigma.  The wine was everything it should be, balanced and elegant, with a fresh curranty fruit that was quite pleasant if lacking perhaps just a bit of depth and power.  Red fruit aromas were charming and just taking on some weight but lacking complexity.  ***  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: The ’82 Cos shows a beautiful, seductive nose of dark plum, brown sugar and chocolate perfumed with a floral edge.  On the palate the wine is very silky and very rich, soft and lush yet still holding together well.  Ravishing.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Saint-Julien 1982, Château Beychevelle

Somewhat closed on the initial attack, this opens with time to show maturing aromas and flavors.  To my palate it is far from unpleasant but definitely in decline.  The tannin has faded and the structure is essentially gone now.  Time to drink.  **  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: An ’82 Beychevelle at a recent tasting showed blackcurrant fruit with an earthy note and a fairly persistent hint of bell pepper on the nose.  On the palate the texture was firm and grippy, and the length was good.  Very typical, very pleasant.  One of the favorite wines of the group of tasters in its flight.   Showing well now, this will still last for years.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Saint-Emilion 1982, Château Cheval Blanc

Wonderfully expressive and deeply perfumed, with very exotic aromas of ripe plum, fig and cassis trimmed with chocolate and ground coffee.  The effect is lush but perfectly in balance and very elegant.  The texture is silky and perfectly calibrated with the richness of the wine on the palate.  A delight.  *****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: The 1982 Cheval Blanc was a bit the odd man out in a flight of the Left Bank first growths, yet managed to hold its own with its seductive, almost erotic richness  on the nose, with notes of fig and prune, smoke, and sweet brown sugar.  On the palate the wine was forceful and full bodied, with a fat, velvety texture, ripe tannins, and a lovely dense feel that lasts forever.  The most open of the flight, yet still on the way up.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Pauillac 1982, Château Latour

Oddly not showing well at this tasting, it was last in this flight for me and did not rank highly with the rest of the tasters in the group either.  To me it seemed more mature than the other wines.  I found it to be elegant but dropping off a bit, with a silky texture and lots of finesse but (weirdly for Latour) almost too refined.  There were appropriate aromas of currant, smoke and cedar, and the requisite balance and grace on the palate, but it left me wanting more.  ***  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: The 1982 Latour at a recent tasting was a profound and eloquent wine.  Although its earthy power did not please all tasters, this vintage is a classic of the house style.  On the nose the wine shows a rich, dark plum fruit with notes of pepper, anise and earth.  On the palate the wine is warm and dense, almost fat, with a fierce, still-youthful tannic energy and a tightly wound, grippy texture.  My favorite of all the first growths at this tasting.  Monumental, and still years from showing its full potential.  A long life ahead.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Pauillac 1982, Château Mouton

A showy, ostentatious wine, with aromas of blackberry, fig and a touch of honey underlined with ground coffee and cocoa.  On the palate the wine was rich, full bodied, and opulent, with great density and weight.  This might be over-the-top for some, but it is certainly a superb example of this iconic wine.  *****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: Although the ’82 Mouton seemed a bit closed down on the nose at a recent tasting, it still showed an exotic plum and fig fruit with a floral, spicy edge and a hint of earth and brown sugar at the end.  On the palate it suffered, perhaps, by being after the Latour, yet seduced by its dense, silky finesse.  Truly a great wine, still at the beginning of its life.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Margaux 1982, Château Margaux

Wine of the flight for many of the tasters, although I was not in agreement.  Very fresh and vibrant, with red currant, almost cranberry aromas with a perfume of cinnamon and exotic spice.  This was perhaps the most elegant of the wines.  It showed great finesse, but it was also the probably the lightest.  Classic, delicious, true to form.  *****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: A great popular favorite at a recent tasting, the ’82 Margaux was lush and ripe, with a subtle cassis fruit on the nose colored by cinnamon, cedar and truffle.  On the palate the wine was soft and very fine, yet still tannic and structured.  The wine is very subtle and elegant yet not at all lacking in power or longevity.  Wonderful and still very youthful.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Graves 1982, Château La Mission Haut-Brion

Personally I loved this wine, although the group did not.  In fact, I ranked it first, while the group had it solidly last, earning me a collective “Zut!”  What appealed to me was the mature, richly nuanced nose with notes of blackcurrant and plum accented with wood smoke and game.  There was just a suggestion of earthy “forest floor” development, but the wine was still very present, with sturdy tannic structure and a massive, full-bodied structure.  A bit “wild” perhaps, but compelling to me, and definitely still maturing.  *****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: A puzzling, somewhat disturbing result, the ’82 La Miss did not show nearly as well as the bottle that I had last week, with a relatively simple red currant fruit on the nose colored by earthy tobacco notes.  On the palate the wine seemed light and fresh with moderate length at best.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Graves 1982, Château Haut-Brion

My second-best wine of the flight.  Different from La Mission, but still compelling, with a very exotic nose that showed a fairly youthful currant fruit character with some developed aromas and a leathery edge.  The wine was forward but still tannic and powerfully structured.  There is still decades of upside potential left for this beauty.  *****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: 1982 Haut-Brion seldom gets the attention I believe it deserves.  This bottle was just as lovely as other recent examples, with a rich plum and fig fruit with hints of smoke, spice and fresh flowers.  On the palate the wine is strong, with firm tannins, lots of body and a very elegant structure.  Tremendous wine, just beginning to open up now.  This will last for years to come. With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Pauillac 1982, Pichon Lalande

Rich and dark, this shows a figgy fruit character with a touch of molasses and gingerbread but also an exotic floral note.  On the palate the wine is silky and soft, with little tannic grip but the density and extract to carry it to a lovely finish.  Still on the way up.  *****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: 1982 Pichon-Lalande showed a ripe blackcurrant fruit with elements of ginger, pepper, and violet on the nose.  On the palate there is a rich, dark, velvety texture yet plenty of structure, grippy tannins and very good length.  This is still very youthful and is scarcely showing any secondary character – drinking very well now, but this wine will last for decades to come.  Wonderful.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Pauillac 1982, Château Lynch-Bages

I was quite surprised when the wines were revealed to find out that this was my favorite wine of the third flight.  Wonderfully expressive, it showed a youthful, forward blackcurrant and cherry fruit character with a hint of roses, a touch of Havana cigar, and a bit of smoke.  Spot on, classic claret aromas followed by a silky, very fine texture enlivened by a fresh acidity that carry it to an extraordinary, lingering finish.  Marvelous!  This is drinking well but doubtless still on the way up.  *****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: An inky dark ’82 Lynch-Bages at a recent tasting showed a bit of green pepper and some iodine initially before revealing a spicy lovely blackcurrant fruit and a rich creamy texture on the palate.  The finish shows a bit of Parmesan, yet that didn’t detract from its overall impression.  Although it is drinking well now, the wine is still youthful, and will last for decades yet in a proper cellar.  Delicious.   With friends in Atlanta, March

Pomerol 1982, Château l’Evangile

Lovely, typical Pomerol, there is a hint of sweetness to the ripe plum aromas and a suggestion of evolution as well with some mature notes of freshly turned earth, cocoa, and truffle.  The texture is silky, lighter than some and very approachable.  Delightful to taste now, it should hold at this level for another five to ten years.  ****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: The ’82 l’Evangile was beautiful wine with a very fine dark plum and fig fruit character, a slight note of fresh herbs and a bit of smoke on the nose.  On the palate the wine is silky and elegant, with a taut structure underneath all of the sexy fruit.  Wonderful now, will age well.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Saint-Emilion 1982, Château Figeac

In 2017, this wine was removed from consideration due to cork taint.

From 2012: A delicious wine, the ’82 Figeac showed a sweet cherry fruit at first and with time a figgy richness.  The nose still has a bit of the bell pepper / Chinese tea note on the nose and a pronounced mineral element.  On the palate the wine is rich, dense and long, with a supple, mouth-filling texture and very good length.  Starting to open up now, this has at least another 20 years in a good cellar.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Saint-Julien 1982, Château Ducru Beaucaillou

Fresh and bright, this shows a curranty fruit that is starting to mature and open up.  The texture is slightly rustic, with grippy tannins and a hint of fresh acidity.  Drinking well but lacking the nuance and power of the better examples from this vintage.  ***  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: The ’82 Ducru was a dark, rich hedonistic delight, with a fruit that shares figs soy salt and plum on the nose along with a texture that is fairly alcoholic and fat with a richness, however, that never gets out of balance.  This is big, but right there on the edge.  Impressive.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Saint-Julien 1982, Château Léoville-Las Cases

Did this wine suffer by being the last wine tasted of the third flight of a magnificent tasting?  For me, the beauty was hard to absorb.  Certainly this is a wine of surpassing elegance and a classical balance.  There were aromas of ripe red and black berry fruit with a touch of peppery spice, the beginnings of a deeper maturity and some earthy, leathery complexity, and a supple, velvet-like texture with an almost feminine elegance.  ****  In Atlanta with friends, March 2017

From 2012: The ’82 LLC at a recent tasting showed a bright redcurrant fruit on the nose with a bit of smoke, leather and pepper.  On the palate the wine is silky and fresh with a great finesse.  The body is fairly light, yet the wine has grip and presence all the same.  Exquisitely balanced, this should last for years to come.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Additional notes from the 2012 tasting that were not present in 2017:

Pauillac 1982, Château Lafite-Rothschild

Wonderful.  The 1982 Lafite at a recent tasting was starting to open up, showing a fresh red currant fruit on the nose with subtle hints of spice, Cuban cigar leaf, earth, mineral and violet on the nose.  On the palate the wine was tannic and firm yet supple and elegant, with a fine, lingering finish.  This is coming into its own, and will last for decades to come.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Pomerol 1982, Château Le Gay

The ’82 Le Gay was a pleasant surprise.  Showing well, it featured a bright, high toned red currant fruit with a hint of cedar, smoke and spice on the nose.  On the palate the wine has a nice density but no heaviness and very good length.  This is perhaps the best bottle of Le Gay that I have ever had, and it still has years of life left.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

Pomerol 1982, Château Lafleur

This bottle if ’82 Lafleur, I’m afraid, was a bit of a disappointment, with bright, slightly cooked red currant and cranberry fruit along with a licorice and cassis liqueur-like fruit character.  On the palate it seemed soft and lush but lacking perhaps a bit of the concentration, density and structure for which one might hope.   With friends in Atlanta, March 2012

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