Mature Bordeaux: A Deep Library of Clarets


Mature Bordeaux: A Deep Library of Clarets

Wine Team New York |
Today, Sotheby’s Wine is thrilled to share a deep library of clarets from several of the most memorable vintages of the 1980s and 1990s. Additionally, we are proud to include select and just-released vintage notes written by Nick Jackson MW in September of 2023, as well as notes from Serena Sutcliffe MW and Vanessa Conlin MW.

A major highlight of the collection below is a legendary trio of vintages from Château Mouton Rothschild in the 1980s. The 1982 and 1986 are a study in contrasts, with the younger wine offering soft, beautifully rounded seduction as its older sibling flashes with stout power – a mammoth wine that is dark, resonant, and complete. Classic and more understated, Serena Sutcliffe MW described the 1989 Mouton as "concentrated, exotic and very chocolatey. One of the best, and most seductive 1989s in Bordeaux, with depth and a long finish."

Also from the ’80s comes an exciting 1983 release from Margaux’s Château Palmer. “While the vintage began nervously with cold and wet weather, followed by heat and drought, it finally settled into its own in September and October during harvest. When tasted in the fall of 2023, this wine was finely tuned in its balance of opulence and nuance, a study in balance of fruit and savoriness, and ready to enjoy now.” – Vanessa Conlin MW

The 1996 Château Latour is another iconic bottling that, even with over 20 years of age, is still young and tightly knit, a textbook release from the Pauillac First Growth with a fantastic nose inflected with florals and cedar.

Of course, no discussion of mature Bordeaux is complete without reference to aged Sauternes, and the 1983 Château d’Yquem is breathtaking in its ample generosity and vibrant complexity.

These are rare pleasures – not often available on the market, and not to be missed.

Vintage Notes:

1982 – a, perhaps the, legendary vintage of the last fifty years, important as much for putting Bordeaux on the map for the American consumer (thanks to Robert Parker) as for the outstanding quality of the wines. At this age, there is a lot of bottle variation, but the best wines combine sumptuous fruit with spectacular exotic aromas and a warm embrace of a finish. At this age the Left Bank wines are more reliable, but the Right Bank also made great 1982s. – Nick Jackson MW

 and 1985 – grouped together for showing similar profiles: good but not exceptional concentration, with lovely balance, easy harmony and excellent Bordeaux finesse. Both, however, are fading now and should be drunk up. – Nick Jackson MW

 – a superstar vintage, but arguably only recently appreciated as such; potentially the rival to 1982. Indeed, 1989 can often show more concentration, focus and consistency than that year. These are brilliant, complete wines, with ample fruit, huge aromatic and flavor complexity and beautifully softened tannins, on both banks. – Nick Jackson MW

 – a high yielding vintage, for a long time considered the best of the 1988-1989-1990 trio, but now grudgingly yielding superiority to 1989. The wines are rich and fleshy, soft and luxuriant, but should probably be drunk in the next ten years. – Nick Jackson MW

 – the obverse to 1996, where the Right Bank excelled. These can be superb wines today. On the Left Bank, the tight grip of the Cabernet tannins persists today, but the wines are very enjoyable in a strait-laced, linear, fresh style, and the tannins ensure they will last forever. – Nick Jackson MW

 – a lovely, refined, Left Bank vintage, showcasing gravelly, cedary Cabernet in top form. Lafite and Margaux lead the way, with honorable mentions to the Pichons and Montrose; all are drinking well today. The Right Bank was far less successful. – Nick Jackson MW

 – an unequivocally excellent Right Bank vintage; at 25 years old, the best Right Bank wines are drinking wonderfully today. The Left Bank, with the exception of the Merlot-heavy Pessac-Léognan (the Haut Brion stable is outstanding in 1998), are a bit drier and more severe than the pleasurable Merlot-led wines. – Nick Jackson MW