An Expert’s Guide to 15 Vintage Wines That Are Aging Exceptionally Well
A seasoned wine expert pulls out his old notebooks and delves deeply into his vinous past, revisiting old loves and discovering new ones.
Wines are not only living things—shifting, evolving, surprising us with unfathomed new facets—but they also have unique personality traits that, like those of people, remain consistent throughout the various stages of their careers. Each encounter offers singular insights into the nature of a particular wine, so it was with a sense of wonder and anticipation that I recently opened a few of my old notebooks to search for my initial impressions of some truly great wines I have recently reevaluated. A wine professional since 1987, I have kept meticulous records—all of them written by hand, and many accompanied by photographs and tasting menus that I saved to preserve the context of the tasting. The pages that follow record my impressions over the course of the last few decades of some superb wines—red, white, sparkling, and dessert—that are well worth opening now and in the future.
Château Cheval Blanc 1947 Saint-Émilion
1989 Super dense, still almost black after over 40 years. The wine is thick with fire-roasted-meat and black-fruit flavors. Incredibly rich on the palate, with a distinct spice-box finish. Glorious!
2014 Now, after almost 70 years of age, you would expect this wine to be over the hill—but no way! Still the rock star it has always been. Definitely softening around the edges and thinning on the palate but delicious, rich, and great down to the last drop. Tasting this wine more than a dozen times has been a highlight of my career.
Château Latour 1982 Pauillac
1988 This is intense wine. Not yielding much on the palate. You get a sense of a great depth of fruit—but hidden behind tons of acid and tannin with a long, long finish. Needs at least a decade.
1994 Wow, was I off! It’s now six years later, and ’82 is still as intense and tight as when I first tried it. How long will it take this brooding beauty to come around?
2015 Today, this ’82 is showing the best of the five first growths. A window of perfect maturity—with deep flavors of red currant, tobacco, and dark chocolate. This wine is only getting better and should age nicely for another three or four decades.
Heitz Cellar 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon Martha’s Vineyard
1991 Simply blows my mind. Rich with notes of tobacco, mocha, and an unusual yet delightful eucalyptus quality. A California wine that can crush Bordeaux’s best.
2015 Showing a bit of age, but she is still all there. More mineral notes than I remember, and the eucalyptus essence has mellowed. But so balanced and still so fine….
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