My wife and I visited some friends last weekend and we arranged a small 1998 Right Bank Bordeaux retrospective tasting on Friday night. For dinner we kept it simple. Grilled ribeye steaks, marinated mushrooms in a bordeaux sauce made from the leftover sediment, baked potatoes and fresh corn on the cob. 1998 was an excellent vintage on the right bank and one that is still rather affordable in comparison to more recent vintages. None of the five wines that we opened for this tasting were the top wines of the vintage but all of them received outstanding scores from one reviewer or another. In general, they were all holding up well, were more approachable and much less tannic than the 2000 Left Bank wines that we tried earlier this year. Here are my notes:

  • 1998 Château Fontenil - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Fronsac
    Opened after a 2 hour car ride. This was splash decanted. Initially a 90 point wine from WS. Moderate to heavy sediment. This had some lake water aromas on the nose. notes of tart plums at first. Later I notes tar, chocolate, wet earth and graphite. It still had a good tannic structure. It was tasting older than the previous few times I have had it and I would probably suggest drinking this if you have any. The least favorite of the 4 tasters at the 1998 Right Bank retrospective. 88 points.

  • 1998 Château La Couspaude - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Decanted for 2 hours before drinking. Sesame aromas on the nose. Notes of black cherry and smokey red fruit burst from the glass when I first tried this. On the finish it had some underbrush nuances. The tannins were rather integrated and it was drinking quite well at the present time. As the wine sat in the decanter for an additional 2-3 hours the wine seemed to fade a bit and lost some fruit. Based on my initial tasting, 90-91 points.

  • 1998 Clos Fourtet - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Decanted for 2 hours. This had an earthy nose. Rich texture with notes of ripe red fruit and pencil shavings. Moderate tannins on the finish. This fell right into the middle of the pack of the 5 wines. Ready to drink in my opinion. 90 points.

  • 1998 Château Moulin Saint-Georges - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Opened after a 2 hour car ride. Decanted for 1 hour. Produced from a vineyard directly across the road from Ausone and sharing the same clay and limestone soils as well as being made by the same winemaker, the perfectionist Alain Vauthier. Dark red color. This had firm tannins. Less fruit than the other wines. Notes of coffee and asphalt. I would hope that this wine would show better under better circumstances. I have 1 more bottle. 87-88 points.

  • 1998 Château Pavie Decesse - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Decanted for 2 hours. Black red color. This wine was rather primary and youthful. Firm tannins and full bodied. Notes of cherry, plum and blackberries. Smooth texture and a longer finish than the other 4 right bank bordeaux at the tasting. This was the favorite of the group although the Couspade was also appreciated. 92 points.

VM
Original Post
Completely agree. 1998 was more of a North v. South vintage than a Left v. Right Bank vintage. Pessac being in the South benefitted from the weather. I bought 4 bottles of Haut Brion that year (for $135 per 750ml). Still have not cracked my first one.

VM

I decided to take a look at the 1998 Right Bank Bordeaux again since it is the 20th anniversary of the vintage. Put together 4 wines from the vintage (3 Right Bank and 1 Left Bank) for this small tasting. Here are my notes:

1998 Château Pavie Decesse - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru (5/20/2018)
Opened by a friend. Decanted 4 hours before drinking. 2nd time I have had this wine. The favorite of the 4 1998 Bordeaux. Round with integrated tannins. Notes of plums, currant and blackberries with a smooth finish. 93 points.

1998 Château Quinault L'Enclos - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru (5/20/2018)
Decanted 4 hours before drinking. 80% Merlot and 10% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. From a 37 acre walled vineyard in the city of Libourne. Crimson red color. Notes of grape skins, plum, cocoa powder and leather. Firm tannins. 91-92 points.

1998 Château Calon-Ségur - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe (5/20/2018)
Opened by a friend. Decanted 4 hours before drinking. Lightly sedimented. Dirty purple color. Earthy red fruit with tar and iron. Lesser fruit profile. 89 points.

1998 Château Fontenil - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Fronsac (5/20/2018)
Decanted 4 hours before drinking. Heavily sedimented. Thin and on the decline. 86 points.

If anyone else has tried 1998 Bordeaux recently (particularly Right Bank), I'd be interested in your notes and opinions.

VM

 

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