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As a Bordeaux lover, I know that ten years of cellar rest is the guideline for my stored treasures. I have long since adjusted to this. But there are also wines from the Bordelais that are drinkable earlier - and there are "hard hunks" that remain closed and bulky even after 10 years.

Just now in the glass: Mission Haut-Brion - still a delight
Nevertheless: it is fashionable to quickly (mostly hastily) disqualify one vintage or another or to praise it to the skies of pleasure. The vintages 61, 82, 90, for example, make wine lovers' eyes glaze over, while the 77, 87, 91 or even 97 vintages provoke frowns and sour facial expressions.

But it is not quite as simple as that: I have drunk '61, '82 or even '90 Bordeaux that have by no means reached the 10-year mark, and others - so-called small vintages - that could still give a lot of pleasure and great enjoyment after 20 years.

The individual châteaux are also very different: through extremely sharp selection, concentration, modern vinification, yield reduction, etc., it is becoming increasingly rare to speak of good or bad vintages, but rather of good and bad wines in good and bad vintages.

1994 was such a year. After the climatically problematic three previous years, finally a better situation for the vines, with early budbreak, medium hanging, hot summer and only during the harvest bad, wet, cold weather.

The result: either very closed or then lean, dry wines. The ratings and comments were accordingly.

Today: 12 years later, the picture is far more differentiated. The catchword "inferior or medium vintage" has remained. There are still "closed" guys, such as the Léoville-Barton, but it is opening up more and more. But most 1994s have been a pleasure to drink for one or two years.

But there are already some more augurs who know exactly what is going on and make a general judgement on the basis of just a few bottles (usually only tasted). Even at vintage tastings, they rely on a few, momentary, comparative impressions.

For me, the best 94: Lafleur
My own 94 experience is based on 248 Bordeaux of the vintage that I consumed last year in particular: not at tastings and not at samples, but at home, with food, with friends, alone or in company - at least one, but often several glasses. And these wines are spread over 65 different wineries or bottlings (second wines, for example).

I think I can evaluate the vintage a little more precisely and in a more differentiated way. Especially since the big Châteaux are represented as well as the smaller, lesser-known estates. Wines in the price range between 10 and 300 euros.

If I come to the conclusion that the 1994 vintage is far above the level attributed to it, then my "wine diary" proves it. There are definitely also closed Las Cases, Latour or Léoville Barton, but even they have a high enjoyment value now. Of course, I didn't taste them casually, in a hurry, but only after decanting and enjoying them with an open mind...

I mean, that's what matters in the end. Top comparisons are something for the head, for the calculation, for the ego that so much wants to graze (excuse me: drink) off the top.


Yours sincerely

Peter (Züllig)

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