Today is a great day to be a Bordeaux buyer - there are lots of great wines from older vintages, and prices on these aged wines compare very favorably against their younger brethren. Here are many spectacular wines from the decade of the 90's. While you may have been transitioning from Cheers to Seinfeld, rooting for Jordan's Bulls or flipping through Nirvana and Counting Crows on the dial, dozens of great Bordeaux properties were cranking out many legendary wines. Among them...
1999 Coufran, Haut-Médoc ($22.99)
According to the Wine Spectator: "A good, delicate red, with berry and leather character. Medium-bodied, with light tannins and a fruity, earthy finish. Drink now." (05/02)
1999 Léoville-Poyferre, St-Julien ($42.99)
Leoville-Poyferre made a delicious wine in 1999. The nose has a tiny whiff of sweet cola. It has juicy up-front flavors of dark chocolate and raspberry cassis that carry through. This estate continues to crank out top-notch, user-friendly wines. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot. 89 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "A perfumed bouquet of flowers, jammy cassis, sweet oak, and truffles jumps from the glass of this ripe, classic, mid-weight claret. The wine is elegant rather than powerful. It possesses intense fruit, admirable ripeness as well as balance, and a long finish. Enjoy this beautiful, sexy Poyferre over the next 12-14 years." (04/02)
1999 Gruaud Larose, St.-Julien ($49.99)
Deep vibrant color, spicy blackberry and jammy raspberry flavors, and exceptional balance. Ripe round fruit. Very powerful. Rich and long with super mouthfeel. This will be a fairly early drinker. Watch for it. It’s exceptional. Blend is 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec. 89-91 points from Robert Parker.
1999 Kirwan, Margaux ($49.99)
90 points Wine Spectator: "Wonderful aromas of cassis and berries, with hints of spices. Full-bodied, with fine tannins and a delicious fruity aftertaste. Harmonious wine. Kirwan makes serious wine now. Best after 2004." (03/02) According to Robert Parker: "The aromatic, oaky, modern-styled 1999 Kirwan boasts a deep ruby/purple color as well as considerable size, depth, and muscle (atypical for the vintage), abundant texture, and loads of flavor (primarily licorice, cassis, and earth). Anticipated maturity: 2004-2015." (04/02) According to Decanter: "Lovely pure currant fruit and perfume nose. There is plenty of young fruit on the palate with hints of marmite and is textured with velvet. Very long ..."
1999 Branaire-Ducru, St-Julien ($54.99)
89 points Robert Parker: "The 1999 Branaire is from an under-rated estate. This is a beautifully perfumed effort revealing scents of graphite, lead pencil shavings, blueberries, raspberries, and black currants. The wine is rich, layered, medium-bodied, pure, and elegant. It is a complex St.-Julien with good flavor depth, soft tannin, and unobtrusive acidity. Drink it now and over the next 12-15+ years." (04/02)
1995 Gruaud-Larose, St-Julien ($59.99)
89 points Robert Parker: "Revealing more grip and tannin since bottling, the 1995 Gruaud-Larose exhibits a dark ruby color, and a nose of sweet black cherries, licorice, earth, and spice. Rich, with medium to full body, high tannin, and subtle oak in the background, the 1995 is nearly as structured and tannic as the 1996. The two vintages are more similar than dissimilar. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2020." (02/98)
1999 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien ($64.99)
90 points Wine Spectator: "Loads of floral, berry and mineral character on the nose. Full-bodied, with loads of layered tannins and fruit and a long, long finish. Big wine. Best after 2005." (03/02) According to Robert Parker: "Dry tannin and a backward, austere, muscular, brooding personality characterize Leoville Barton's 1999. However, it is packed with grip, body, and depth. Give it 5-6 years of cellaring and hope the tannin melts away sufficiently for the fruit to come forward. It should last for two decades..." (04/02) K&L's notes - Certainly among our favorites for the entire vintage. It’s a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. Dark purple color. Traces of licorice and raspberry, but mainly the wine tastes like delicious, ripe grapes. Just as powerful as 1996 and 1998, but the tannins are a touch softer. Anthony Barton’s wine shows beautiful balance, and though there’s a lot of tannin, it is extremely well masked by the massive fruit. This is clearly one of the top wines of the vintage.
1996 Clos du Marquis, St-Julien ($66.99)
Considering the wild success of the '96 Leoville Las Cases, it's no wonder that their second wine is outstanding too. You don't just have to take our word for it. It received 90-92 points from Robert Parker: "The quality level of the second wine of Leoville-Las Cases is unquestionably better than some of Bordeaux's famed 1855 classification's second and third growths. The 1996 Clos du Marquis boasts a thick black/purple color, as well as a huge, soaring set of aromatics consisting of cherry liqueur and blackcurrants. The wine is thick, rich, and tannic, but marvelously well-balanced and long in the mouth. This wine will need 4-6 years of cellaring, and keep for two decades. Readers may remember that I was equally amazed by the 1995 Clos du Marquis. Michel Delon has done it again!" (4/97) And 91 points Wine Spectator: "Beautiful aromas of currant, lightly toasted oak and perfume. Full-bodied, with chewy tannins and a tight finish. Still holding back.--'95/'96 Bordeaux retrospective. Best after 2008." (Web only, 2007)
1994 Ducru Beaucaillou, St-Julien ($86.99)
90 points Robert Parker: "Ducru is on a roll, with fine efforts over recent vintages, including an exceptional 1994, spectacular 1995, and what looks to be an equally profound, super-concentrated 1996. A top-notch effort in this vintage, Ducru-Beaucaillou's 1994 displays a dark purple color, a textbook, cassis, mineral, licorice, and floral-scented nose, medium body, outstanding extract and purity, moderate tannin, and a persuasively rich, sweet, spicy finish. Everything is well-integrated (including the tannin). This should prove to be a classic St.-Julien. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2022." (02/97)
90 points Wine Spectator: "Superclean and racy. Medium-dark garnet color, with pretty plum, floral and currant aromas. Full-bodied, with silky tannins and a long, very fine finish.--1990 Bordeaux retrospective. Best after 2002." (08/2000)
1994 Phelan Segur, St-Estephe (1.5L) ($89.99)
According to Robert Parker: "The 1994 is a very good wine, with a healthy dark ruby color with purple tints, fine ripeness, medium body, good density, some tannin, and an overall sense of balance, extract, and character. The wine is mouthfilling, savory, and ideal for drinking over the next decade." (04/96) According to the Wine Spectator: "Interesting floral aromas, especially violets, and a hint of fruit. Medium-bodied, with ripe fruit flavors and ultrafine tannins. Delicate finish. Better in 1999." (01/97)
1995 Montrose, St-Estèphe ($109.99)
93 points Robert Parker: "An explosively rich, exotic, fruity Montrose, the 1995 displays even more fat and extract than the 1996. There is less Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1995 blend, resulting in a fuller-bodied, more accessible and friendlier style. The wine exhibits an opaque dark/ruby/purple color, as well as a ripe nose of black fruits, vanillin, and licorice. Powerful yet surprisingly accessible (the tannin is velvety and the acidity low), this terrific example of Montrose should be drinkable at a young age. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2028."
1993 d'Yquem, Sauternes ($139.99)
Chateau d'Yquem that is affordable-try with Foie Gras. According tot he Wine Spectator: " Light gold color. Lemon tea, almond and honey character. Medium-bodied, medium sweet, with some spicy flavors and an herbal, sorbetlike finish. Drink now." (04/2000)
1995 Léoville-Barton, St-Julien ($139.99)
91-94 points Robert Parker: "Both the 1994 and 1995 Leoville-Barton were tasted on three separate occasions with identical score ranges. Obviously, Leoville-Barton produced one of the top wines in each vintage. Given the modest pricing policy of proprietor Anthony Barton, these are wines to buy. The 1995 should turn out to be an even greater wine than the 1994 because the Cabernet Sauvignon achieved better ripeness. The wine's acidity is lower, and yields were modest. This muscular, full-bodied, stunningly concentrated and pure wine exhibits that layered, skyscraper-like feeling in the mouth that is symbolic of some of the finest Bordeaux wines. The nose offers up copious quantities of sweet, jammy ripe fruit intertwined with scents of toasty oak. Low acidity gives the wine a voluptuous, thick, unctuous texture (not unlike the 1982), but there is plenty of tannin lurking behind the fruit... This is one of the top wines of the vintage. It will last for 20-25+ years."
1991 Pichon-Baron, Pauillac (1.5L) ($169.99)
According to Robert Parker: "This property, which made brilliant wines in 1988, 1989, and 1990, fashioned respectable wines in both 1991 and 1992. The 1991 exhibits a formidable, opaque, dark purple color, and a tight but promising nose of licorice, minerals, and blackcurrants. The attack offers wonderfully ripe fruit in a medium-bodied format, but the finish is dominated by hard, tough tannin. Is there sufficient fruit? I think so. It is one of the most promising wines of the vintage, but backward. This wine needs a good 2-3 years of cellaring; it should last for 15 or more." (02/94)
1998 Margaux, Margaux ($184.99)
90-94 points Wine Spectator: "This is a Margaux wearing a suit of armor in tannins. Very tough for this premier estate, but of outstanding quality. Aromas of minerals, flowers, berries and cherries open to a full-bodied palate with powerful tannins and a mouthpuckering finish. Could use a bit more ripe fruit on the finish, but it's a serious wine." 90-92 points Robert Parker: "It is a classy Margaux, with a dark ruby/purple color, sweet tannin, medium weight, as well as excellent floral and black currant fruit intermixed with toasty new oak. The wine is concentrated, with a velvety texture, and a nicely layered finish. A quintessentially elegant effort... it is captivating and charming." K&L's notes - We tasted this wine on two separate occasions, and both times we agreed that Margaux made the best wine in the appellation and one of the Medoc's finest wines overall. It has tons of power, but with time it appears this wine should recapture some of the finesse that you'd hope for and expect. Rich, plummy character with hints of spice and tons of concentration.
1999 Margaux, Margaux ($199.00)
94 points Robert Parker: "The sexy, dark plum/purple-colored 1999 Margaux is already revealing complex aromatics. This surprisingly charming and round offering is reminiscent of a vintage such as 1985. Although neither a blockbuster nor a heavyweight, it grows in the mouth revealing tremendous length as well as purity. Administrator Paul Pontallier prefers it to the more austere 1998, as do I. This is an archetypical Chateau Margaux of richness, finesse, balance, and symmetry. It can be drunk young, but promises to age nicely for two decades. Extrapolating backwards, it would probably have something in common with the underrated 1962 Medocs." (04/02) 92 points Robert Parker: "A tight and silky red, with lots to offer'currant, tobacco and cherry character, medium to full body, fine tannins and a long, long finish. Just needs time. Best after 2006. 16,665 cases made." (03/02)
1994 Latour, Pauillac ($299.00)
93 points Robert Parker: "It is a superbly rich, concentrated, full-bodied Latour with remarkable intensity. The opaque purple color is followed by a flattering, open nose (Latour's black walnut/mineral-like character is well-displayed) with tons of fruit that bury any evidence of new oak. The wine exhibits fabulous intensity, excellent richness, a sweet inner-core of fruit, and a powerful, tannic but brilliantly well-defined, long finish." (04/96) 90 points Wine Spectator: "Vivid aromas of cassis and vanilla, followed by a bounty of fruit flavors and fine, silky tannins, all building on the palate. A fine, elegant Latour that's unusually approachable now, though better in 1999."
1997 Latour, Pauillac ($299.00)
90-91 points from Parker… 'The 1997 Latour will be a surprisingly fine wine, as well as one of the longest lived offerings of the vintage. It possesses lots of tannin and depth, along with medium to full body, and a textured, multidimensional personality. Sweet, jammy fruit is intertwined with dried herbs, coffee, and earth in this saturated ruby/purple-colored wine. The finish lasts for 20 seconds, a positive sign for a 1997. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2018. (April 1999)'
1998 Latour, Pauillac ($369.00)
90-94 points Wine Spectator: "A harmonious Latour which shows refinement for the vintage. Loads of crushed black cherries and currants on the nose and the palate. Full-bodied, with very well-integrated tannins and a long, long finish. This will improve in the barrel--just watch." 90-92 points Robert Parker: "In contrast to the big, massive Latours produced in 1995 and 1996, the 1998 is a refined, elegant offering with a dark ruby color, sweet cassis fruit, attractive fat, surprisingly soft tannin, and a good finish… it is very pure, with the vineyard's mineral/black fruit character presented in a medium-weight format… Latour's manager, Christian Le Sommer, feels that the 1998 is reminiscent of a hypothetical blend of 1986 and 1988."
1999 Latour, Pauillac ($369.00)
94 points from Parker... 'Readers looking for a modern day version of Latour's magnificent 1962 or 1971 should check out the sensational 1999 Latour. It is a big, concentrated offering, exhibiting a dense ruby/purple color, and a classic nose of minerals, black currants, leather, and vanilla. The wine is long, ripe, and medium-bodied, with high levels of sweet tannin. This surprisingly full, concentrated 1999 should be drinkable in 5-6 years; it will last for three decades. (April-02)' 93 points and a Cellar Selection designation from the Wine Spectator... 'Big, yet racy '99. Shows blackberry aromas, with a hint of spice, and is full-bodied, with a solid core of fruit, firm tannins and a dark chocolate and coffee aftertaste. Wonderful texture. Goes on and on. Best after 2006. (Mar-02)' Our notes - A huge, fierce wine. Black/purple color. The wine has blackberry and chocolate notes along with mineral and earth. Covers all corners of the mouth with tons of fruit. It needs cellaring but clearly this wine is going to be amazing.
1995 Latour, Pauillac ($549.00)
96+ points Robert Parker: "It is an extremely powerful and concentrated, full-bodied, backward wine, but it does not exhibit any harshness or toughness. Like many 1995s, the acidity is low. The wine is an explosive fruit ball that offers massive intensity, without yet having begun to reveal its full personality. The finish lasts for nearly a minute. This looks to be a great Latour that should turn out to be superior to the impressive 1994. It is still extremely raw and backward. It will be a must purchase for Latour fans who plan on living another 25-30 years. Wow!" 94 points and a Cellar Selection designation from the Wine Spectator: "An outstanding Latour, offering marvelous character on the nose and palate with its complex layers of blackberry, tobacco, cedar and berries. This first-growth Bordeaux is full-bodied and velvety, with a long fruit and tobacco aftertaste. Best after 2002."
1996 Latour, Pauillac ($799.00)
97 points Robert Parker: "The 1996 appears to be a modern day version of the 1966 or 1970, rather than the sweeter, more sumptuous fatter styles of the 1982 or 1990. The wine reveals an opaque ruby/purple color, as well as reticent but emerging aromas of roasted nuts, blackberry fruit, tobacco, and coffee, with hints of pain grille in the background. Massive and full-bodied in the mouth, it possesses extremely high tannin, fabulous concentration and purity, and an impeccably long finish. This wine, bottled, in July, 1998, will require at least a decade of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2040." 97 points Wine Spectator: "This muscular Latour is deep and dark-colored, its ripe berry oozing from the glass with undertones of vanilla and minerals. Full-bodied, and incredibly chewy, with masses of tannins and a long, long fruity finish. This is how they built clarets in the great years of the 1960s and 1950s.Best after 2005."