Our little Bordeaux group met Wednesday at Keens for a 25 year look at the 1988 vintage. Turned into a nice day, and I enjoyed the walk from Grand Central to Keens. My first time there- service was fine and they were good with stems. Some pickles and crudite on table, my first course was a good chopped salad, then I had the Legendary Mutton Chop (I was told this is 10 month old lamb, so not mutton by most standards, but that’s a big hunk of meat); we also had sides of spinach, beans, and various potatoes.
Ramon started us off with the 2008 Dujac “Mont-Luisants” Morey St Denis 1er cru. Full but with good crispness, not a lot of oak, pear and citrus. Someone questioned if this was Chardonnay or a Gouges- like Pinot Blanc/Noir sport, but no one knew (but everyone enjoyed I think) B+
On to the reds:
The Haut Bailly, L’Eglise Clinet, and Montrose were double-decanted and each had about an hour in decanter before being returned to bottle about 3 hours before being served, I think everything else just opened as dinner started.
Red Graves Flight #1:
1988 Haut Bailly - pretty nose, mostly resolved tannins, sweet black currant fruit, light tobacco. Maybe my QPR favorite of the night. B+
1988 Pape Clement- harder, a bit tough, tea and leather more than fruit. Got better with air. B
1988 L’Eglise Clinet - despite double-decanting, at first pour I thought this tough, tannic, and drying, though with some good presence underneath. Tight, but a revisit later in night was pleasant. I originally had B-, but ended up B.
1988 La Fleur de Gay- very flamboyant nose of kirsch and cassis. Lots of fruit, but this is also pretty tannic. You have to accept for what it is, needs mutton! B+/A-
St Julien meets St Estephe Flght
1988 Gruaud Larose -masculine, a bit of Cordier funk, leather, good dark fruit. B+
1988 Cos d’Estournel- tannic, flat, lacking in charm. B-/C+
1988 Montrose - tannic, still somewhat stern, but with solid black fruit core with some forest floor. B/B+
1988 Pichon Baron -medium bodied, red and black fruit, pencil shavings. B/B+
1988 Pichon Lalande - powerful but elegant, rich dark fruits with herb and pine aromas, I liked a bottle of this Saturday but liked this one even more. A-/B+
1988 Lynch Bages - corked, alas
Red Graves #2:
1988 La Mission Haut Brion - burly, lots of tobacco/cigarbox, earthy, long. A-/B+
1988 Haut Brion -my WOTN. Elegant, long, classic with earth, cedar, tobacco. Well balanced, tannins are there but quite supple. A-
We finished with the 1988 Coutet. Dark gold/amber color, and cork slides into bottle. Yet the wine seems intact, wtith good ‘88 acidty and orange marmalade meets apricot fruit. Fairly full, good finish, this is probably an advanced bottle but it still shows well. B+/B
In group voting, the top wines were
Haut Brion 24
Pichon Lalande 9
La Fleur du Gay 5
L’Egilse Clinet 2
(total is actually a point high based on our 3/2/1 system, but still think this is representative)
Personally I was quite pleased with the wines. There’s a clear vintage character of lots of tannin and not much in the way of gobs of fruit, but most of these have come into balance.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.