Because Bordeaux 1998 is currently readily available on the market, sometimes at quite reasonable prices for a mature vintage, we decided to take a look at how some of the top wines are performing.
During the en primeuer campaign of the 1998 vintage, it was initially thought that the wines of the right bank were superior. This was because the early ripening Merlot of St. Emilion and Pomerol was harvested before the heavy rains of October. Despite this, the foresight and skill of some of the left bank properties made it possible for them to also produce outstanding wines.
It is certainly worth comparing prices before making purchases. As always, caution must be taken to ascertain the provenance and bottle condition.
Chateau Clinet 90
Dark ruby with a garnet rim. Plum leather and timber with faint dried fruit components and liquorice. Abundant fine-grained tannins that are velvety mid-palate. Medium long finish with jammy plum fruit. Drink now to 2018.
Latour à Pomerol 88
Medium garnet ruby with a gradually fading rim. Saddle leather and tobacco on the nose with richer dark berried fruit in the mouth. Fleshy fruit flavoured tannins mid-palate. Makes a modern impression with mocha and round, fairly soft velvety tannins on the finish.
Dark ruby to the rim. Cassis and chimney soot, heather, and blueberry. Compact and round at the core then radiating with very fine-grained tannins and dark, ripe fruit. A nicely focused, well-structured wine. This should keep to 2022.
La Conseillante 88
Dark ruby with youthful highlights. The initial musty closet smell dissipated after a few minutes to reveal elderberry and black currant over a background of hickory. Medium plus tannin content with fairly fine-grained structure and surprising astringency. The medium long finish features ivy and dark fruit.
Beaséjour Bécot 89
Deep dark ruby. Heather and blackberry syrup on the nose. Rich dark berries bedded in plush velvety tannins. Quite oaky and fruity, but then short. Quite pleasant, but without depth or any impressionable length. The fruit disappears on the finish and leaves somewhat over-extracted tannin.
Troplong Mondot 93
This dark ruby wine has a faded rim and exhibits cedar and plum on the nose. Abundant firm, ripe tannins support ripe plumy fruit with a hint of balsam and tarragon. A very well-structured, full-body is ripe yet firm. This wine will continue to benefit from further bottle maturation.
Dark ruby with a transparent, garnet-coloured rim. A very seductive nose exhibits intense cassis and calf leather. Nicely balanced in the mouth with bright fresh berry fruit wrapped around a firm spine of fine-grained tannin. The finish is long, opulent, and complex with flavours of roasted cedar, tobacco, and black currant that echo in waves. Drink now to 2018
Dark ruby. A rather subdued nose displays anis, cedar wardrobe and a hint of old dry sawdust. The tannins give a somewhat brittle impression. A bit of fruit is exhibited in the mouth: mostly plum and black raspberry. This is at peak and will hold, but not improve through 2016.
Dark ruby with a garnet rim. This nose of this wine is like you would imagine a well-oaked Port wine: very, very ripe blackberry fruit, somewhat volatile acid and warming alcohol. This is a big, supple modernly styled Bordeaux. It is drinking well now but it has enough power and vibrancy to hold through 2018.
La Mondotte 95
Deep dark, nearly opaque ruby. Cassis, liquorice, and elderberry are featured on the nose. There is lots of jazzy fruit and spice in the mouth of this sweet and modernly styled wine. The tannins are abundant and supple and bedded in a voluptuous body. Blackberry and mocha are suspended by warming alcohol on the finish. This extroverted wine presents itself brilliantly at the moment and should hold well into the ’20s, maybe even ’30s.
Léoville Barton 90
Deep dark way with a fading rim and nearly violet highlights. Classic ripe black currant fruit and graphite on the nose and in the mouth. Quite fine-grained tannins, moderate alcohol and medium body comprise a wonderfully balanced wine. This is classic unadulterated Bordeaux – no modern, perturbing schnick-schnack. Drink now and into the late ’20s and early ’30A.
Rauzan Ségla 91
Deep dark ruby with a thin, transparent rim. The nose is initially shy, but opens after some time in the glass to reveal black currant and floral notes, cool minerals, and cedar. Long, tautly structured tannin and a chiselled spine of acid lend a very classy structure. Drink now to 2020.
Léoville Las Cases 92
Deep dark ruby with nearly no rim. A subtle nose exhibits classic black currant accompanied by intense graphite and smoked cedar. Abundant, firm tannins are fine-grained and fully integrated in the medium full body. This wine is still youthful and displays outstanding concentration. Drink to 2030.
Deep dark ruby. Liquorice, porcini, graphite, and cassis on the nose. The abundant tannin is fine-grained and still youthful and slightly astringent. Jammy fruit soothes the edges. This full-bodied wine still has potential for further development and should hold to 2030.
Deep dark ruby-garnet. The nose exhibits intense black currant and sloe. Despite the satiny textured tannin, the mouth lacks somewhat in intensity. Subtle oleander, blackberry, and a hint of cigar box linger on the finish. A charming wine that should hold through the `20s.
Mouton Rothschild 95
Dark deep garnet-ruby. Seductive fragrances of graphite and leather, chocolate, mint, and mocha. This intense and opulent wine has a big body that remains firm due to abundant, yet astringent tannins that are quite fine-gained. Highly extracted and intense cassis, mocha, saddle leather and pencil shavings coat the mouth and remain long on the impressive finish. Will hold a few more decades.
Lafite Rothschild 98
Opaque black-red. An incredibly elegant nose exhibits liquorice, pencil shavings, cigar box, and plenty of crime de cassis. Very abundant and astringent tannin is packed in black currant and blackberry fruit. Profound depth of fruit and impressive mineral complexity are displayed on the luxuriously long finish. Will hold for a few more decades.
Opaque black-red. The nose displays blackberry and blueberry, cool smoke and graphite. The tannins are still edgy and astringent and not yet fully integrated indicating that this wine will benefit from further bottle maturation. Blackcurrant, heather, and cedar flavours the medium body. All the elements are here, but I’m just not sure this is going to come together perfectly in the end.
Haut Brion 96
Opaque black-red. Intense cedar, cassis, pipe tobacco, chimney soot, and graphite on the nose. Abundant tannin continues to mount as do the deep and multiple layers of flavour. Bright cherry, cassis, pencil lead and porcini are followed by cigar box and blackberry. This a marvellous wine which will continue to offer tremendous pleasure for decades.