1985 clarets – how are these developing?

One of the privileges of being the Fine Wine Manager is the quality of some of the tastings I get to attend and last week I was invited to something special. Our friends at Epping Forest Wine Society kindly invited me to lead them through a selection of fine Bordeaux from the 1985 vintage. The selection assembled included wines from many of the great estates of Bordeaux and it was a fascinating opportunity to see how the fortunes of many famous chateaux had changed over the last 28 years.

A silky soft, rich wine from Chateau Angelus for instance, produced by a young Hubert de Bouard was packed with ripe plum/prune fruit. [It’s worth mentioning Angelus had 1985 just been refused 1er Grand Cru Classe (B) status – today it is classified as 1er Grand Cru Classe (A).]

Delicious wines from Chateau Palmer and Chateau Pichon-Lalande, showed a predilection for the production of soft ripe wines with high percentage of Merlot in their blends, making them soft ripe and very appealing. The lovely, elegant Lynch-Bages demonstrated the clean, fresh cassis style typical of the estate and its Cabernet Sauvignon dominated wines.

From St Estephe we saw Cos d’Estournel beginning to eclipse Montrose in terms of relative quality. A delicate and declining wine from Montrose showed off a charming lifted red fruit character and notes of mushroom, in contrast to the dense rich, still dark Cos d’Estournel was a concentrated wine that had the most youthful characteristics of any of the reds.

To round off the d’Yquem made an excellent point to end the tasting – it displayed layers of rich orange marmalade and candied peel rather than the more usual honeyed botrytis notes one might expect from Yquem – a wine of superb concentration with many years of life still ahead of it.

This lovely selection clearly demonstrated that the 1985 vintage still has life left in it – in fact with many prices not far above those of the 2009s and 2010s from the same properties, some of the top wines from 1985 are a very good buy if you can find them.

David Allen MW

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About Coe Vintners Fine Wine

Coe Vintners Fine Wine is part of the Coe Group, one of the leading wine and spirit suppliers in the UK. An independent family business established in 1930, Coe Vintners will celebrate 85 years continuous trading in 2015.
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