1997 BORDEAUX: MEDOC
May 17, 2000
The Vino Fino Tasters took a look at the 1997 wines from the Medoc region in Bordeaux.
The French view this vintage as being of "bonne qualite" and needing, perhaps,
10+ years to reach maturity>
The Wine Spectator pegs this as an "unven vintage" (what vintage doesn't have
quality variations?), saying the Merlot-based wines from St. Emilion and Pomerol are the
best. In fact, from our group of wines, the top scoring wine received "89
points" and most are noted as being ready to "drink now."
The Wine Advocate notes this as a "charming" and "delicious" vintage,
saying the wines will be quick to mature, if not immediately drinkable.
Gerald on the Soap Box:
Many so-called "experts" feel the need to quantify or classify every vintage.
This calls for generalizations which can mislead consumers.
Many would interpret these generalizations as indicating 1997 vintage Bordeaux are wines
Even our last place wine was, certainly, of pretty good quality, being an above-average
In the US we have a mania for "only the best." If a particular vintage
falls short of being "The Best," there is little interest on these shores in the
wines from that particular harvest.
The Wine Spectator, for example, wrote that a particularly prestigious producer of
Burgundy should not have even bottled their wines from one vintage, yet in a tasting we
conducted at Weimax, their wine placed first. Had a West Coast winemaker bottled
this quality of wine, American eno-scribes would hail that individual as being a
So, please set fire to your vintage chart if it urges you to not enjoy the 1997 Bordeaux
wines. We found a lot of good wines!
VINO FINO TASTER'S
Tiebreaker was the greater Number of Third Place Votes!
The "STATS" show the wines are, for the most part, closely grouped together.
Three wines were within one point for the honor of finishing in first place!
CHATEAU LYNCH-BAGES was the last place wine this evening.
This displayed a hint of cedary oak on its bouquet and nice Cabernet
fruit. It is a fairly "muscular" wine with some aggressive tannins around
the "edges." This may develop nicely with another 5-10-15 years in the
bottle. One star.
CHATEAU BRANAIRE-DUCRU ranked 7th according to the Vino Fino crew.
This was marked down on my score sheet for showing just a hint of a leathery, meaty
note. I don't think it is "squeaky clean" and this caused me to rate it
8th, though I still would give it a half to one-star rating. Five to ten years of
aging would not be out of the question here.
CHATEAU POUJEAUX, a noteworthy estate in the sub-appellation of
"Moulis-en-Medoc" was the 6th place finisher. This wine had more first
place votes than any other. I found the nose to show hints of berries and herbs,
with just a whiff of cedary oak. It is moderately tannic and this caused it to seem
to me to be a bit shallow in the middle. However, 8-12 years of cellaring may round
this out into a very nice bottle of wine. One star.
CHATEAU LEOVILLE-POYFERRE was the group's 5th place wine. Both Mark
Naismith and myself placed this first. The fragrance is stellar! Lots of
cedary, pencil-shaving-sorts of woodsy perfumes waft out of the glass. It is
unmistakably "Bordeaux." There is plenty of structure for 8-15 years of
cellaring and the intensity of the plummy Cabernet fruit should insure an excellent wine
in a decade or so. Unfortunately, two tasters nailed this wine as their least
favorite, causing it to tumble out of contention. Two stars.
CHATEAU PICHON-LALANDE arrived in fourth position. Bright fruit,
sweet berry notes and a hint of oak gives this a very nice nose. It is an elegant,
refined "claret," being medium-bodied rather than full. The tannic
structure of the wine suggests 5-10 years of cellaring, though it is certainly pretty nice
right now. One star.
CHATEAU PICHON-BARON was the group third place wine, missing the top spot
by a whisker! The nose was terrific, showing sweet oak, mocha, cedar and sandalwood.
It is a big, moderately tannic, minerally Cabernet in need of 8-15 years of
cellaring. Two stars.
CHATEAU LEOVILLE-BARTON finished tied for first place, so we went to the
"tie-breaker system." It had the same number of second-place rankings, but
no thirds, so we'll call this our second place wine. The Cabernet aromas are
evident, with a sweet plummy note and a hint of oak. It is a very pretty wine in the
mouth, the balance of wood and fruit being excellent. One-and-a-half stars.
CHATEAU SOCIANDO-MALLET, an outstanding cru bourgeois,
once again has ravaged its more famous and prestigious neighbors! The aromas display
cassis and classic Cabernet fragrances with oak lurking in the background. The wine
is quite powerful in the mouth, being big and rich with cedary undertones. Five to
15 years of cellaring are not out of the question. Two stars.
VINO FINO TASTING ARCHIVE
2007 RUSSIAN RIVER PINOT NOIRS February 2010
RANGE OF FRENCH CHABLIS WINES January 2010
& WINE MARATHON December 2009
SPARKLING WINES November 2009
MALBECS October 2009
COAST CHARDONNAYS September 2009
RED WINES August 2009
BUDGET BORDEAUX July 2009
WHITE WINES June 2009
BAG OF CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS April 2009
WINES, MOSTLY FROM THE 2004 VINTAGE March 2009
COAST PETITE SIRAHS February 2009
& PETITE SIRAH COMPARISON January 2009
VINO FINO CHRISTMAS December 2008
2005s: NAPA CABERNETS November 2008
COUNTY PINOT NOIRS October 2008
RITA HILLS -2006 VINTAGE- PINOT NOIRS SEPTEMBER 2008
RELEASED ZINFANDELS August 2008
RHÔNE VALLEY WINES JULY 2008
VALLEY SAUVIGNONS JUNE 2008
CHABLIS 2005-2006 MAY 2008
RHÔNE SYRAHS APRIL 2008
CRUZ MOUNTAINS PINOT NOIRS January 2008
HOLIDAY CHRISTMAS DINNER December 2007
COAST CHARDONNAYS November 2007
SHIRAZ October 2007
TEMPRANILLO WINES September 2007
2005 VINTAGE ZINFANDELS August 2007
RELEASE (2004-2005) ZINFANDELS July 2007
WINES FROM ALL OVER June 2007
LAGREIN WINES May 2007
MALBECS April 2007
HEMISPHERE PINOT NOIRS March 2007
2004 CABERNETS February 2007
BEAUJOLAIS January 2007
FINO CHRISTMAS December 2006
ZINFANDELS November 2006
NOIRS of VALUE-PRICING October 2006
OF SYRAHS TASTING September 2006
CABERNET-SHIRAZ BLENDS August 2006
VALLEY (California) and MARGARET RIVER (Australia) CABERNETS July
PETITE SIRAHS June 2006
NORTH COAST PINOTS and a FRENCH INTRUDER May 2006
: BASILICATA & CAMPANIA'S MAJOR RED WINE April 2006
D'AVOLA - A TASTE OF SICILIA March 2006
VINO FINO RADAR ZINFANDELS January 2006
TASTING & DINNER December 2005
BUBBLIES FROM AROUND
THE WORLD November 2005
COAST PINOT NOIRS October 2005
OF CONFUSION CABERNETS September 2005
ZAINER'S SIDEWAYS LOOK AT MERLOTS August 2005
LOIRE VALLEY CABERNET
FRANCS June 2005
SYRAHS March 2005
CALIFORNIA CABERNETS February 2005
FINO HOLIDAY WINE MARATHON December 2004
OF MODEST PRICE November 2004
TEMPRANILLO October 2004
CENTRAL COAST PINOT NOIRS September 2004
SHIRAZ-CABERNET BLENDS August 2004
FROM ALSACE July 2004
SOUTHERN RHNES (7 Chteauneufs & a Vacqueyras) June 2004
WINES FROM CAMPANIA & BASILICATA May 2004
WINES FROM THE ABRUZZO & MARCHE REGIONS April 2004
ZINFANDELS February 2004
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO January 2004
FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA 2003
CTES du RHNES September 17, 2003
OREGON PINOT NOIRS August 20, 2003
COAST SYRAHS July 16, 2003
Bordeaux June 18, 2003
CALIFORNIA CABERNETS May 21, 2003
THE BEATEN PATH SYRAHS APRIL 16, 2003
2002 NEW ZEALAND
SAUVIGNON BLANCS March 19, 2003
California CABERNETS February 19, 2003
FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA December 4, 2002
SHIRAZ August 21, 2002
& SPARKLERS July 17, 2002
May 15, 2002
Southern Hemisphere SAUVIGNON BLANCS Feb. 20, 2002
1999 ZINFANDELS January 16, 2002
December 5, 2001
New PINOT NOIRS November 14, 2001
CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS October 17, 2001
CALIFORNIA CABERNETS September 19, 2001
LANGUEDOC REDS August 15, 2001
SAUTERNES July 18, 2001
1998 NEBBIOLO June 20, 2001
1999 PINOT NOIRS May
SAINT-MILION Tasting April 18, 2001
CHARDONNAYS March 21, 2001
NAPA CABERNETS/John Vignau Memorial Tasting October 20, 2000
CALIFORNIA CABERNETS September 20, 2000
CHARDONNAYS August 16, 2000
FROM THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE: CLARETS June 21, 2000
FROM UNDER THE TUSCAN (and Umbrian) SUN Aprile 19, 2000
1997 BORDEAUX: MEDOC May 17,