Saturday, November 26, 2022

Massive Tasting of Bordeaux 1982 - the Vintage that made Robert Parker a Star, USA/ France

Annette and I participated in a very special Bordeaux tasting. Our friend Mark opened 16 bottles of Vintage 1982 wines, all from his cellar. He bought all the wines about 40 years ago in Chicago and stored them in his private cellar. Bordeaux 1982 is the vintage that catapulted Robert Parker into the top group of Bordeaux wine critics eventually making him the most influential wine critic for several decades. 

Vinography - Picture this: the young Robert M. Parker, Jr. has been selling his newsletter, The Wine Advocate for four years with some success. His notion of applying a numeric score to wines is a novel one, and he hasn’t exactly hit the big time. As per usual, he makes the pilgrimage to Bordeaux in the spring for the marathon of tastings, and by the end of the year he is a bit of a lone loud voice in the crowd, proclaiming the triumph of the vintage amidst more than a little doubt. Within a relatively short period of time he is proven right, and two things are now etched in the stone of the wine world’s collective consciousness: Robert Parker is the most powerful, feared, respected, and reviled critic in the world, and the 1982 Bordeaux is legendary. 

Bordeaux 1982 - Wine-Searcher

Vintage quality: Legendary

Current condition: Ready to drink 

The 1982 vintage for Bordeaux was and still is considered one of the great vintages. The growing season was idyllic with both budburst and flowering occurring under perfect conditions. The balmy, dry weather continued throughout the summer with July seeing some particularly hot days while August brought cooler ones just before a glorious Indian summer took place in September elevating the vintage. The heat spike late in the day served to ripen Merlot perfectly and a touch of rain led to the perfect conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The resulting harvest was not only of sublime quality but was also hugely generous. 

The wines were stunning with rich, ripe fruit and the opulence, tannin and complexity needed for serious long-term aging. It is also worth noting that had modern wine-making techniques been available at that time, the vintage is likely to have been even starrier. 

 On the Right Bank, the wines of Pomerol and Saint-Émilion were superb, with Pétrus enjoying a particularly legendary year. The general consensus is that the wines of Pomerol tended to have a slight edge over the wines of Saint-Émilion, with Château Lafleur producing a stunning turn. However, Saint-Émilion's Cheval Blanc was also brilliant and has acquired a legendary status all to itself. 

On the Left Bank, the appellations of Pauillac, Saint-Julien and Médoc also produced exceptional wines, especially from Châteaux Pichon Lalande, Mouton Rothschild and Latour. 

However, some of the Left Bank appellations were less successful with both the appellations of Margaux and Pessac-Léognan stumbling, although Château Margaux still produced some fantastic wines. 

Overall, the 1982 Bordeaux vintage was extraordinary and is universally considered a legendary year. The best wines should still be drinking superbly now although that window will be coming to a close. The top examples are likely to still carry premium pricing. 

Bordeaux 1982 - 7 Flights

First Flight
Château Fonroque 
Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé
US$ 86
2020 - US$ 32
Château La Dominique
Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé
US$ 264
2020 - US$ 51

Second Flight
Château Pavie Decesse
Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé (prior to 2022)
US$ 143 
2020 - US$ 130
Château Pavie
Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B (Now Premier Grand Cru Classe A - Classified as Premier Grand Cru Classe B from 1954 to 2012)
US$ 312
2020 - US$ 322

Third Flight
Domaine de Chevalier
Cru Classe de Graves in 1959
US$ 203
2020 - US$ 69

Fourth Flight

Château Les Ormes de Pez
St. Estephe
US$ 113 
2020 US$ 37

Château Meynes
St. Estephe
US$ 201
2020 US$ 30
Château Calon Segur
St. Estephe, Troisieme Grand Cru Classe in 1855
US$ 303
2020 US$ 125

Fifth Flight 
Château Lalande-Borie
St. Julien
From the 2019 vintage Château Lalande-Borie has been re-labeled as Petit Ducru and becoming Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou third wine
US$ 81
2020 US$ 33
Château Beychevelle
St. Julien
Quatrieme Grand Cru Classe in 1855
US$ 283
2020 US$ 102
Château Leoville Barton
St. Julien
Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe in 1855
US$ 364
2020 US$ 94

Sixth Flight 
Château Branaire
St. Julien
Quatrieme Grand Cru Classe in 1855. Now named Chateau Branaire-Ducru
US$ 218
2020 US$ 45
Château Ducru Beaucaillou
St. Julien
Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe in 1855
US$ 509
2020 - US$ 231

Seventh Flight
Château Talbot
St. Julien
Quatrieme Grand Cru Classe in 1855.
US$ 314
2020 US$ 90
Château Gruaud-Larose
St. Julien
Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe in 1855
US$ 573
2020 US$ 102
Château Leoville Las Cases
St. Julien
Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe in 1855
US$ 715
2020 - US$ 277

Sauternes 1983


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