Geoff Kelly Wine Reviews
Independent reviews of some local and imported wines available in New Zealand, including earlier vintages.

Conclusions from the tasting:
This whole tasting (presented at Regional Wines,  Wellington,  in late August 2016) was a revelation,  to me.  With detailed background information presented to participants,  summarising the views of Broadbent,  Coates and Parker,  I have never before felt quite so let down by  people who have influenced me greatly.  Particularly this was the case with Broadbent's assessment of the wines,  the greatest surprise of all.  I tend to think of him as almost infallible.  But for the 1978 and 1979 wines,  it is almost as if,  having initially been quite kindly disposed to the two vintages,  after a few disappointments he has taken a snitch to them,  and then was hard-put to find good things in them in later years.  Parker too seems to me to over-react,  so much wearing his must-be-California-ripe hat,  that some wines which are simply refreshing in a European context,  and wonderfully fragrant and food-friendly,  he pans.  Whereas on this occasion,  Clive Coates who I have always rather regarded as epitomising the previous / traditional English school of wine (waffle) writing,  for these wines his words shine through loud and clear.

None of these wines was completely past it,  as any casual reading of the compilation of tasting notes in the handout would suggest.  And,  the most recent of those tasting notes is 14 years before our tasting.  They are not big wines,  true,  but there is far more to wine than simple size,  weight,  and impact.  These wines pursue the small-is-beautiful approach,  especially now,  37 or 38 years down the track.  As such,  they are infinitely more food-friendly than so many of the more highly-marked hefty and fashionable latter-day offerings.  It is fair to say tasters derived much pleasure from them,  nine of the 12 wines attracting at least one first or second-place vote from participants.

The top five wines from the 1978 / 79 Bordeaux Library Tasting:  1978 Ch Pichon Lalande,  18;  1978 Ch Leoville Las Cases,  18;  1978 Ch Palmer,  18  ½;  1978 Ch Latour,  18  ½;  1979 Ch Margaux,  18 ½ +.  The remaining wines were clearly on a smaller scale.

In the notes which follow,  the introductory 'admin' section for each wine gives the orthodox view.  Preparation of the notes coincided with the Parker website being revamped,  with temporary loss of access to older reviews.  My excerpts may not best reflect what the site now has to say.  This section is followed by my current evaluation,  those views influenced at times by the 20 tasters the bottles were shared with.  The wines were presented blind,  and rankings were collected before IDs became known.

The Tasting Invitation:
Once upon a time,  in the days before wines came to be rated on their size and weight,  tasters were greatly intrigued by the two vintages 1978 and 1979 in Bordeaux.  The 1960s and 1970s after the benchmark 1961 vintage had been  variable,  shall we say,  with commentators desperately (it seems now) trying to find virtues in any half-decent year.  And the better years were so widely spaced,  for example 1970,  then modest indeed till the tannic 1975s and hot-year 1976s.  So the pleasantly ripe and 'typical' pair of back-to-back vintages in 1978 and 1979 attracted quite a lot of interest.  Nowadays the 1979s in particular are seen as being on the small side,  but the best of both vintages are still showing some charm.

This tasting will provide the rare even then,  and much rarer now,  opportunity to compare five of the best-known classed growths of the Medoc,
in matched pairs,  1978 vs 1979.  This should give a great feel for the similarities and differences between the two years.  To make up the 12,  as a treat,  we will have two First Growths,  1978 Ch Latour and 1979 Ch Margaux.  This makes the tasting more expensive (but,  I assure you,
valued well below wine-searcher),  yet provides an opportunity to check two of our wines which even then were aspiring to be super-Seconds (or near-First-Growths),  namely Ch Palmer and Ch Leoville Las Cases,  and see how they measure up against the real thing.  And any opportunity to taste Ch Palmer and Ch Margaux from the same year alongside each other iBs to be welcomed.

The 1978 and 1979 vintages:
The world was a cooler place in 1978,  and the 1970s as a whole were particularly modest in Bordeaux.  Broadbent rated the 1978 vintage ***(*) in his 1980 great book,  (paraphrased) a late cool vintage saved by fine weather in late August through September into October.
By the 2002 edition he had re-rated it to ***.  He considers 1978 better than 1979,  where the (fortunately,  again) dryer weather late in the season was much less extended.  The 1979 vintage was too late for his first book,  but in the 2002 edition he rated 1979 2 stars.  Wine Spectator is not quite so severe,  rating 1978 at 87:  Drink, structured, fleshy and complex;  and 1979 as 83: Drink, supple, fruity and delicate.

Where possible in the notes for the wines below,  I have sought to give an early comment,  Broadbent where available,  then for this tasting I am adding in a Clive Coates' assessment,  for though he is not as clinical as I prefer,  he has tasted an enviable amount of Bordeaux !  Then finally,  a Parker summary,  to tap his now magisterial overview of the last 50 years of Bordeaux vintages.  This step has highlighted how very individual and fraught wine-writing is:  in the excerpts which follow,  often there seems no hint they are talking about the same wine.  So the old rule applies:  there are no great wines,  no fixed attributes in wine:  each bottle is itself,  after this passage of time.  So every tasting like this is an adventure,  setting out in the hope that certain bottles will be the very best they could be,  having regard to their age ... now 37 or 38 years old.

Broadbent,  Michael  1980:  The Great Vintage Wine Book.  Mitchell Beazley,  432 p.  
Broadbent,  Michael  2002:  Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine.  Harcourt,  560 p.
Coates,  Clive,  2004:   The Wines of Bordeaux.  Weidenfeld & Nicholson,  London,  720 p.
Parker,  Robert  1991:  Bordeaux.  Simon & Schuster,  1026 p.
Parker,  Robert M.,  2003:  Bordeaux,  Fourth Edition.
Simon & Schuster,  New York,  1244 p.
www.robertparker.com  ( all Robert Parker,  for this review )


Values given are current from wine-searcher,  then the original price is given later in the 'admin' section,  where available.

1979  Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste
1978  Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste
1978  Ch Latour
1979  Ch Leoville Las Cases
1978  Ch Leoville Las Cases
1979  Ch Margaux
  1979  Ch Montrose
1978  Ch Montrose
1979  Ch Palmer
1978  Ch Palmer
1979  Ch Pichon Lalande
1978  Ch Pichon Lalande

1979  Ch Margaux   18 ½ +  ()
Margaux First Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $603   [ cork 53mm;  cepage then approx. CS 75%,  Me 20,  CF 5,  planted at 10,000 vines / ha;  18 – 24 months in barrel,  100% new oak,  depending on the vintage;  Broadbent,  2002:  a dozen notes from the autumn of 1981, fragrance frequently reiterated. Also flavoury, but the raw '79 tannin hard to get away from: ***;  Coates,  2002:  Quite oaky, certainly concentrated, and almost a little dense on the nose. But very good ripe, rich fruit underneath. Full-bodied, rich, classy, vigorous and opulent. This is certainly a very lovely example. Excellent fruit. Still with bags of life ahead of it. Fine grip. Lovely finish. Complex and classy. Very fine indeed: 19;  R. Parker, 1993:  This is a classic Margaux in the sense of its elegance and fragrance. A perfumed bouquet of blackcurrants, minerals, flowers, and smoky oak is persistent. This medium-bodied, rich, elegant wine is one of the less powerful examples of the Mentzelopoulos/Pontallier regime, but it is still concentrated and deep. Fully mature, it is delicious to drink and should continue to evolve gracefully for another 15-20 years: 92;  www.chateau-margaux.com ]
One of the fresher ruby and garnet hues,  just above midway in depth.  It is the bouquet that particularly enchants on this wine.  Here is all the beauty of a cabernet-led wine,  (still) nearly violets florals on cassisy berry and remarkably youthful (considering),  contrasting vividly with the more conventionally powerful Ch Latour.  As you taste the wines,  you realise that the Latour reminds of many Penfolds Australian wines,  bowling you over with powerful oak … but can you in fact taste the fruit as easily.  Whereas this Margaux is essence of perfectly ripe cabernet sauvignon,  and the oak is discreetly supporting,  enhancing and lengthening the fruit,  but never dominating.  Simply a beautiful wine,  not a big wine,  but with some years in hand yet.  Group results were interesting,  none rating it the top wine,  a couple their second,  but interestingly,  more thought this wine a First Growth than any other.  GK 08/16

1978  Ch Latour   18 ½  ()
Pauillac First Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $673   [ cork 55mm;  cepage then approx. CS 80%,  Me 10,  CF 10, planted at 10,000 vines / ha;  17 months in barrel,  85 – 100% new oak depending on the vintage;  Broadbent,  2002:  Rated equal with Lafite at Penning-Rowsell's '10-year' tasting, but soon to dry out, lacking conviction in the early 1990s **;  Coates,  2000:  Splendidly Latour on the nose. Surprisingly soft on the palate. Fullish, velvety-rich fruit. Very good grip. Above all real breed and complexity. Aristocratic and harmonious. Slightly less voluptuous than Lafite. The structure is more obvious. But this is classier. Very lovely finish. Excellent: 19.5;  Parker,  2000:  Medium garnet-colored with moderate amber at the edge, the 1978 Latour offers a spicy, saddle leather, tobacco, dried herb, earthy nose with sweet fruit trying to poke through. Interestingly, new oak also makes an appearance in the flavors. Medium-bodied, elegant, and fragrant, but possibly beginning to dry out, this fully mature wine requires consumption over the next decade. 90;  www.chateau-latour.com ]
Ruby and garnet,  nearly as fresh as the Margaux,  but deeper,  the deepest wine.  Bouquet is powerful,  but as already alluded to in the Ch Margaux review re the thought of oaky Penfolds reds,  is the impact and power for the right reason ?  So you taste carefully.  The ripeness in the cabernet is fractionally deeper / riper than the 1978 Las Cases,  but you just wish you could taste the cassis as clearly as in the Margaux.  On balance the Latour is both richer and riper in its berry than the Las Cases,  and despite the oak,  the fruit simply cannot be ignored.  Oakniks would rate this wine higher than the Ch Margaux.  Plenty of life left here,  even 15 years,  but it is likely to become relatively more oaky.  As is commonly the case with (beautifully) oaky wines,  6 people rated this their top or second wine.  GK 08/16

1978  Ch Palmer   18 ½  ()
Margaux Third Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $347   [ cork 54mm;  cepage then approx. CS 55%,  Me 40,  CF 5,  planted at 10,000 vines / ha;  c.21 months in barrel,  45% new;  Broadbent,  2002:  A lovely wine and a very good 1978. Seductively rich, ripe, mulberry-like fruit: full, soft and fleshy in its early days. Most recently, sweet, attractive, quite good length and residual tannin and acidity: ****;  Coates,  2000:  Lovely fragrant nose. Rather more flexible than Ch Margaux 1978. Classy. Laid-back. Not as rich as the Palmer 1975 though. Medium-full body. Crisp and alive. Good grip. Very stylish, ripe fruit. But it is not as complete as the 1975. But it is long, vigorous and very classy. Fine plus. 18;  R. Parker,  1993:  One of the few stars of this vintage, the 1978 Palmer offers a dark garnet color with some amber at the edge. Its bouquet of dried roasted herbs, spices, and blackcurrants offers considerable fragrance. Full-bodied, lush, and concentrated, with only a vague hint of the weediness that has become such an annoying component of this vintage, this soft, fleshy, corpulent style of Palmer is delicious now and promises to keep for another 10-12 years: 90;  www.chateau-palmer.com ]
Soft garnet and ruby,  the second to lightest colour.  This wine is simply extraordinary.  It seems for the last 50 years I have been reading about venerable wine men (always men) confusing burgundy with claret:  the notion seemed scarcely conceivable to me.  But now I believe it.  This 1978 Palmer has a floral / roses perfume like a slightly cedary Clos de Tart,  followed by a supple silky palate which is simply grand cru Cote de Nuits.  This is now a beautiful supple wine,  soft,  fully mature,  delicious.  No great hurry,  though.  Three people rated it their top wine,  none second.  A wonderful experience.  GK 08/16

1978  Ch Leoville Las Cases   18  ()
Saint-Julien Second Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $265   [ cork 52mm;  original price $32.95;  cepage then approx. CS 67%,  Me 17,  CF 13,  PV 3,  planted at 8,000 vines / ha;  12 – 24 months in barrel,  50 – 100% new oak,  depending on the vintage;  Broadbent,  2002:  … recently, spicy nose but hard to get to grips with. Dry, now losing body weight, not bad but unexciting. At best ****;  Coates,  2000:  Very classy on the nose. This is very lovely. Pure, rich, concentrated Cabernet fruit. Full, composed and aristocratic. This is still very vigorous. Lots of depth. Very long. Very fine indeed:  19;  R. Parker, 1995:  The nose is more complex and penetrating than the flavors. The wine offers classic, mineral, lead pencil, smoky, earthy scents, with plenty of ripe fruit, and none of the vegetal herbaceousness that many 1978s have begun to exhibit. The attack offers good ripeness, medium to full body, higher acidity than many more recent vintages, and considerable tannin in the hard finish. Although this wine possesses outstanding complexity, the high tannin level may never fully melt away. While it will last another 15-20 years, the 1978 is at its apogee and will slowly dry out over the next two decades: 90;  www.domaines-delon.com ]
Ruby and garnet,  the second deepest wine.  Bouquet epitomises 'concept claret',  more particularly the Medoc,  with an incredible volume of cassisy berry and other dark fruits melded with cedary oak,  wonderfully fragrant.  Palate shows perfect balance for a medium-weight-only west bank wine,  the berry softening the cedary oak and the oak lengthening the fruit wonderfully.  But yes,  you could wish for a little more plumpness / flesh,  at this point,  for the tannin is starting to show.  Ripeness is near-perfect for temperate climate cabernet,  not quite matching the top three.  Fully mature,  can only lose flesh now.  Six people rated this their top or second wine.  GK 08/16

1978  Ch Pichon Lalande   18  ()
Pauillac Second Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $245   [ cork 53mm;  cepage then approx. CS 50%,  Me 35,  planted at 9,000 vines / ha;  18 – 20 months in barrel,  50% new;  Broadbent,  2002:  [ initially] a good, rich, fruity, spicy wine.  [ later ] Like almost all the 1978s, now failing to a certain extent, to live up to expectations … cedary;  correct; sweet mid-palate, but not rich or convincing enough … At best ****;  Coates,  2000:  ... very lovely nose. Splendid succulent fruit. Good weight and grip. Still fresh. Fullish body. Very classy fruit. Excellent structure. Rich. Very elegant. Very long. Very intense. Very fine: 19;  R. Parker,  1991:  More tannic than the 1979 … this wine is among the deepest and richest produced at the chateau during the seventies. The tell-tale vanillin, spicy, blackcurrant, cedar scents are present. This medium- to full-bodied wine has a lush, deep, velvety texture, and has fully resolved most of the tannins. Will it outlast the 1979? Now – 2005: 93;  www.pichon-lalande.com ]
Ruby and garnet,  well below midway.  Bouquet is not below midway,  however,  being voluminous,  very fragrant … but not quite perfectly correct.  At first I thought the oak was a bit of assertive and unsubtle alongside the Las Cases cedar,  but later I suspect it is Steven Spurrier's green-tinged fragrance coupled with quite strong oak which gives the wine so much impact.  It is certainly one of the most concentrated,  the palate being rich and satisfying,  and long.  Both the '78 Las Cases and this wine owe much of their bouquet to this fractionally under-ripe trait which both Parker and Broadbent comment so adversely on (and with which we are well-familiar in New Zealand),  yet the fruit is good.  You have to ask,  would an equally over-ripe wine be so refreshing and food friendly.  Fully mature,  yet the concentration will allow this Pichon to live as long as the Latour,  5 – 15 years.  This wine was well liked by the group on the night,  eight people rating it their top or second wine.  GK 08/16

1978  Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste   17 +  ()
Pauillac Fifth Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $196   [ cork 53mm;  cepage then approx. CS 70%,  Me 25,  CF 5,  planted at 10,000 vines / ha;  18 – 20 months in barrel,  45 – 55% new depending on the vintage;  no Broadbent notes;  Clive Coates,  2000:  Very youthful. Splendid nose. Excellent fruit. Complex. Very concentrated. Marvellous 'old viney' fruit and harmony. Fullish body. Very profound. Impeccably put together. Very generous. Very fine: 18.5;  R. Parker,  1993:  This is one of the few 1978 Medocs that has not exhibited an increased herbaceousness as it has evolved. The 1978 Grand-Puy-Lacoste remains dark ruby/purple-colored, with a bouquet offering scents of cassis, smoke, and earth. Medium to full-bodied, with fine structure and tannins, this wine combines elegance with authoritative flavors. It is close to maturity, yet it can be cellared for at least 10-12 more years. It may last even longer: 90;  www.chateau-grand-puy-lacoste.com ]
Garnet and ruby,  below midway.  Bouquet has the lovely cedary oak that so characterises older generations of Grand-Puy-Lacoste,  all much softer and less aggressive than the oak in the Ch Latour.  In mouth there is pleasant ripe berry,  but not anywhere near as concentrated as the wines marked more highly.  Ripeness is fractionally greater than the 1979 Las Cases,  but fruit weight is less.  Nett achievement is of a classically-ripe mature claret,  though those hunting for the character could still say it is a bit under-ripe.  This will hold several years yet.  One second-place vote.  GK 08/16

1979  Ch Leoville Las Cases   17  ()
Saint-Julien Second Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $205   [ cork 52mm;  original price $28.95;  cepage then approx. CS 67%,  Me 17,  CF 13,  PV 3,  planted at 8,000 vines / ha;  12 – 24 months in barrel,  50 – 100% new oak,  depending on the vintage;  Broadbent,  2002:  very impressive from the spring of 1980 to the mid-1980s, after which I noted more pedestrian qualities, cedary but earthy, quite good fruit but, of course, tannic:  **?;  Coates,  2002:  Good vigorous ripe Cabernet nose.  Rather more vigour and depth than the Ducru-Beaucaillou. Plenty of succulence and class. A lovely example. Vigorous. Fullish-bodied. Concentrated as well as ripe. Excellent fruit. First Growth quality. Aristocratic. Very long. Lots of life ahead of it. Not as sweet at the end as Ch Margaux. Very fine: 18.5;  R. Parker,  1993:  This is a lighter-styled Las Cases, with medium body, and an attractively pure, fragrant bouquet of leafy, curranty fruit, minerals, and spicy new oak. Well-etched on the palate, with everything in harmony, this wine displays no signs of fading. Drink it over the next 8-10 years: 87;  www.domaines-delon.com ]
Ruby and garnet,  fractionally redder than the 1978 Las Cases,  well above midway in depth.  The 1979 Las Cases makes explicit what the 1978 merely hints at.  There is a similar volume of clearly cassisy berry and lovely cedary oak,  but the 1979 smells fractionally harder,  firmer,  and faintly stemmy.  Palate confirms,  a leaner wine,  with now clear suggestions of stalky flavours,  yet still showing good berry and balanced oak.  The whole nett impression is still fragrant,  reasonably gentle in its tannin structure,  long-flavoured,  and food-friendly.  Fully mature,  drying a little.  No first or second places.  GK 08/16

1979  Ch Palmer   17  ()
Margaux Third Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $333   [ cork 54mm;  original price $30.34;  cepage then approx. CS 55%,  Me 40,  CF 5,  planted at 10,000 vines / ha;  c.21 months in barrel,  45% new;  Broadbent,  2002:  Continuing its run of well above average wines. Fleshy ripe fruitiness on both nose and – for a '79 – on palate … [ most recently] … lean, attenuated, spicy … needs food: ***;  Coates,  2002:  Splendidly concentrated nose. Very good grip. Fullish body. Excellent acidity. Mellow tannins. Still very vigorous. Great class. Excellent. Very lovely finish. Will last for ages: 19;  R. Parker, 1993:  While it is still one of the finest wines of the vintage, it has been slow to completely unfold since its showy days in cask. The wine reveals a ... dusty, earthy component to its otherwise attractive plum, blackcurrant, and licorice-scented nose. Medium-bodied, with excellent concentration and crisp, high acidity, this well-structured, austere style of Palmer ... should be held for another 1-3 years; drink it through the first decade of the next century: 89;  www.chateau-palmer.com ]
Garnet and ruby,  deeper than the 1978,  just above midway in depth.  Alongside the extraordinary 1978 Ch Palmer,  this wine is much more like the other clarets.  As with the 1979 Las Cases,  there is a taut firmness to the berry / oak interaction which hints at stemmyness,  even though the wine is beautifully fragrant.  Flavour is somewhat harder again than the 1979 Las Cases,  and the descriptor 'stalky' now seems appropriate – or hints thereof.  Fruit weight is good,  and the wine will hold this style for some years yet.  It is markedly less ripe than the 1978 Grand-Puy-Lacoste,  but slightly more concentrated.  Cellar 3 – 8 years.  Two second place votes.  GK 08/16

1978  Ch Montrose   16 ½ +  ()
Saint-Estephe Second Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $196   [ cork 55mm;  cepage then approx. CS 65%,  Me 25,  CF 10,  planted at 9,000 vines / ha;  c.18 months in barrel,  50 – 70% new;  Broadbent,  2002:  ... predictably closed,  but with depth and potential. Flesh and texture then noticeable. [ more recently ] … deep but with a surprising amber rim. Good drink though. **** (just);  Coates,  2000:  Quite a tough nose. Quite rich fruit underneath. Not too tough and tannic on the palate. Good fruit. Restrained and classy. Very good grip. Very good length. This is fine: 17.5;  R. Parker,  1993:  Light-styled for a Montrose, the 1978 has reached full maturity. It offers a straightforward, spicy, earthy bouquet of curranty fruit and damp, woodsy aromas. Medium-bodied, compact, and adequately concentrated, this spicy, earthy style of wine should be drunk over the next 5-8 years: 85;  www.chateau-montrose.com ]
Garnet and ruby,  below midway.  Bouquet is an amalgam of cedar and berry,  very fragrant but like the Ch Latour (but on a much smaller scale),  a worry that the oak is doing most of the talking.  Palate however is quite a drop down from the wines rated more highly,  there simply being a lack of fruit (as Parker notes),  and a firmness resting on both stemmy tannins and cedary oak.  Nett flavour in this tannic style is fractionally riper than some of the wines marked more  highly,  so it is a hard wine to score.  And,  the wine is not actually weak.  Confusing.  This will hold for several years yet,  in its style.  No votes.  GK 08/16

1979  Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste   16 ½  ()
Pauillac Fifth Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $144   [ cork 53mm;  original price $26.12;  cepage then approx. CS 70%,  Me 25,  CF 5,  planted at 10,000 vines / ha;  18 – 20 months in barrel,  45 – 55% new depending on the vintage;  no Broadbent notes;  Coates,  2002:  Fine Pauillac nose. Lots of depth and quality. Ripe and classy. Fullish body. Good grip. Just a touch austere, but not lean. Good tannins. Good long, vigorous finish. Fine:  17.5;  R. Parker, 1993:  Although fully mature since the mid-eighties, this wine has held on to its fruit and charm with no signs of decline. It offers moderately intense aromas of berries, herbs, and toasty oak, round, graceful, medium-bodied, moderately concentrated flavors, and a silky finish. It should be drunk before the end of the decade: 85;  www.chateau-grand-puy-lacoste.com ]
Ruby and garnet,  clearly redder than the 1978 Grand-Puy-Lacoste.  Again there is plenty of volume in the bouquet,  but the berry is firmed by a clear stalky note,  which the oak firms up even more.  Palate is fairly rich,  richer than the 1978 Montrose,  but the fruit is laced-through with stalky hard tannins.  Here you can see quite clearly what Parker is on about,  and agree (to an extent depending on your climatic perspective).  Still a few years life left in this one.  Tasters liked the concentration,  the wine achieving five first or second places.  GK 08/16

1979  Ch Montrose   16 +  ()
Saint-Estephe Second Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $124   [ cork 53mm;  original price $22.95;  cepage then approx. CS 65%,  Me 25,  CF 10,  planted at 9,000 vines / ha;  c.18 months in barrel,  50 – 70% new;  no Broadbent notes;  Coates,  2002:  Classy cabernet nose. No undue astringency. Indeed splendidly ripe, even concentrated. On the palate fullish, a little hard and austere on the attack. Mellow and more succulent on the follow-through. Balanced. Long. Still vigorous. Fine plus: 18;  R. Parker,  1993: ... as with many of the wines made by this estate between 1977 and 1985, it is austere, light, with high acidity, and a lean, short, compact, astringent finish. Once again, there is no question that the wine will last because of the tannin level and high acidity, but the fruit is already in danger of drying out. It remains an unimpressive, even disappointing wine from this great estate: 78;  www.chateau-montrose.com ]
Ruby and garnet,  again clearly redder than the 1978 Montrose.  In the tasting,  this wine was TCA-affected,   though not so much as to obscure its attributes.  It breathed off completely in 24 hours.  It is close to the 1979 Pichon Lalande,  fragrant cassisy berry with stemmy / stalky tannins,  but not quite as stalky and acid as the Pichon.  Though clearly the least wine on the night,  its positioning here is a more accurate guide,  for good bottles.  Fully mature.  GK 08/16

1979  Ch Pichon Lalande   16  ()
Pauillac Second Growth,  Bordeaux,  France:   – %;  $207   [ cork 53mm;  cepage then approx. CS 50%,  Me 35,  planted at 9,000 vines / ha;  18 – 20 months in barrel,  50% new;  Broadbent,  2002:  [ initially ] full of crisp fresh fruit and excitement … [ latterly ] … palate more interesting than nose but lack of balance … At best ***;  Coates 2002:  Now perhaps beginning to lose its vigour. But lovely nevertheless. Mellow, cedary, mulberry and roast chestnuts. But hints that it is thinning out on the nose. Medium-full body. Now mellow. It still has good grip and vigour on the palate. It still has great charm. Excellent harmony and intensity. Lovely: 18.5;  R. Parker,  1991:  Another top success for the vintage, and a worthy challenger to the outstanding 1978 … a ripe, full-intensity, cedary, blackcurrant-scented bouquet that in certain bottles seems dominated by an herbaceous character. Quite velvety, rich, and gentle on the palate, and developing quickly, this round, generous, yet stylish and elegant wine has impeccable balance. Now – 1998: 92;  www.pichon-lalande.com ]
Garnet and ruby,  the lightest wine.  Bouquet is odd on this wine,  there being fair volume,  but also just a suggestion of scrambled eggs made with parsley.  You couldn't definitely say it was reductive,  though.  On tasting,  the parsley side adds a nearly green note to the stemmy / stalky flavours.  Even though there is still reasonable berry,  this wine does clearly illustrate the modest ripening of the year,  with total acid noticeably up.  In that style it is reasonably concentrated,  and thus secured four first or second-place votes.  Mature now,  but no great hurry.  GK 08/16