Cellar notes #22: Tasting a modern classic

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The first of the great modern years in which I bought Bordeaux en primeur was 1982. It was one of the best decisions I've made. I bought four or five cases, and though they seemed dear at the time, they were, in retrospect, dirt cheap.

The first of the great modern years in which I bought Bordeaux en primeur was 1982. It was one of the best decisions I've made. I bought four or five cases, and though they seemed dear at the time, they were, in retrospect, dirt cheap. Sadly, the 1982 corner is dwindling. Last year, I cracked open the last of the case of 1982 Château Fombrauge I bought for next to nothing in 1983. I had a soft spot for this middle-ranking Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, having bought a few bottles of the 1975 and 1976 from the Army & Navy stores.

The wine needed decanting as there was still a trace of sediment. When it was poured, the colour was still good, slightly bricky at the rim but still with a fair degree of ruby-garnet to it. It had an immediate impact on the nose, a striking perfume of spicy liquorice and tobacco, and a still lively but evolved texture with savoury, dark-chocolate fruit tinged with sweetness. It was medium-bodied, elegant and fully mature, the fruit just beginning to fade and stare old age in the face.

I really couldn't have expected much more from a middle-ranking Saint-Emilion, but expectations of the Château Cos d'Estournel, bought at a time when £10 a bottle was a small fortune, were high. Throughout its long life, the Cos 1982 has never disappointed. Now just over 20 years old, this second-ranked cru classé from St Estèphe had done more than simply retain its youthful vigour and concentrated black fruit flavours. It had developed a bouquet of superb complexity and a marvellously silky texture. This wine, if you're lucky enough to have any left, will go on improving for another decade.

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