Bordeaux 1995: Tasting in 2012

Following on from my renewed examination of the Bordeaux 1998 vintage a few weeks ago, and my expressed commitment to report on some more mature Bordeaux wines following all the news on 2011 and other very recent vintages, it is now time for another vintage to come under the spotlight. This is not, however, a comprehensive tasting. The handful of wines tasted here, all from the 1995 vintage in Bordeaux, were opened over dinner, during the course of a few evenings in August, not long after returning from my recent trip to from Bordeaux. All the wines were decanted for at least two hours, and tasted using Riedel Bordeaux glasses.

Before my brief rundown of the wines, I think – as I did with my 1998 Bordeaux report – a few perfunctory words on the vintage are warranted.

Vintage Recap

My initial Bordeaux 1995 report contains more detail for those interested in researching the vintage in depth, but at this stage, with only a small line-up of wines for tasting, I think it appropriate to paint a more broad-brush picture. To cut a long story short, by the time 1995 arrived the world was hungry for a decent Bordeaux vintage. Both 1991 and 1992 had been fairly dismal, and 1993 was only marginally better. The 1994 vintage was undoubtedly an improvement; although some are still ready to dish out what is in my opinion unwarranted criticism it has long been clear to me that, for those not looking for wines of great fat or substance, 1994 Bordeaux has always been a happy hunting ground. Nevertheless, nobody was describing it as Vintage of the Century, that much is certain. So when 1995 seemed to represent yet another step up in quality hopes that this could be a long-awaited great vintage, akin to 1990 or 1982 perhaps, were naturally raised.

Bordeaux 1995

Of course it wasn’t to be; even though 1995 had seen the warmest summer for twenty years in Bordeaux the wines didn’t seem to hit the very highest notes. In part this may have been because the vines were still recovering from the damp and dreary years that had gone before, but more likely it simply represents the dilution and diminishment of the wines caused by unlooked-for rains in September. Although the rain was initially heavy, however, dampening (literally) potential quality, there was no catastrophic loss of the vintage this year (both 1991 and 1992 had been wash-outs, the former complicated by early frost damage). On the whole though, this year the Bordelais bravely bided their time and eventually at most châteaux the picking of healthy fruit after the skies cleared on September 20th.

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