Bordeaux 1994: Tasting in 2011

It is – much to my surprise – now four years since I last took a look at 1994 Bordeaux, my most recent assessment of a selection of wines from this vintage having been in April 2007. Now, as the wines are fast approaching their 18th birthdays, it seems like a good time to check in on the vintage once again (before they all become eligible for my twenty-years-on tasting in 2014 I suppose).

I have already given a summary of the vintage in my Bordeaux 1994 vintage review, as well as indicating how the wines can generate polarising opinion, both there and in my previous tasting in 2007. In short, whereas the vintage certainly has its fans, it does have to be said that many (but not all, note) drinkers of Bordeaux find the wines austere and lacking ‘fruit’ or ‘flesh’, especially compared to the wines which typify the region today. Put the rather genteel wines of 1994 in the ring with the more powerful modern Bordeaux, all night-dark and rich in alcohol, steroid-pumped wines from years such as 2009 and 2010, and they would take a serious pasting.

Château Léoville-Poyferré

So clearly 1994 is a very different sort of vintage to 2009 and 2010; think 2002 and 2008 (which is rather leaner and brighter in style than Parker’s praise might suggest), if modern-day comparisons are what you are after. Does ‘different‘ automatically mean ‘lesser‘ though? I would argue not; just as the differences between 1994 and 2009 or 2010 are as clear as day, it is just as apparent to me that many tasters find exactly what they want in the wines of this vintage, namely charming aromatics with gentle textures and dry, savoury structures on the palate, perfect for dining and savouring at leisure. This is certainly not a vintage to be ignored by those seeking out these qualities.

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