Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

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Alan Eden
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Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#1 Post by Alan Eden » December 1st, 2018, 11:20 am

Obviously a very vague statement, but principal is sound. Are the 3/4/5 th growths of today close to firsts of 40 or 50 years ago ? Or put another way have wine making skills developed enough to overide terroir and technique in that time ?
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#2 Post by Bdklein » December 1st, 2018, 11:29 am

Maybe. It depends .
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#3 Post by A. So » December 1st, 2018, 11:30 am

The tiers of crus are not a rank of quality.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#4 Post by Alan Eden » December 1st, 2018, 11:36 am

A. So wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:30 am
The tiers of crus are not a rank of quality.
??

What are they then
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#5 Post by Jeff Leve » December 1st, 2018, 11:37 am

Some are better, some are worse. It would depend on the wine and the vintage.

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#6 Post by Neal.Mollen » December 1st, 2018, 11:42 am

Alan Eden wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:36 am
A. So wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:30 am
The tiers of crus are not a rank of quality.
??

What are they then
First, the taxonomy dates to 1855 and has undergone almost no change. So even if it were based solely on quality when done, a few things have changed in the last 160+ years.

Second, even when it was introduced, the 1855 classification was based largely on price, not on quality.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#7 Post by Jeff Leve » December 1st, 2018, 11:56 am

Neal.Mollen wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:42 am
even when it was introduced, the 1855 classification was based largely on price, not on quality.
But don't you think there was, and is a relationship between quality and price, more often than not?

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#8 Post by Neal.Mollen » December 1st, 2018, 12:03 pm

Jeff Leve wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:56 am
Neal.Mollen wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:42 am
even when it was introduced, the 1855 classification was based largely on price, not on quality.
But don't you think there was, and is a relationship between quality and price, more often than not?
With respect to the 1855 classification in 1855? I can't say; I am not that old. Surely, the top growth properties had the resources to invest in making better wine and many did.

If you are asking me whether, today, everything else being equal, a 1st growth is likely to be of higher quality than a 5th in a given vintage, I'd say that is probably true "more often than not," and maybe even almost always. If you are asking me whether a 4th growth is "more likely than not" to be better than a 5th, or a 3d better than a 4th or 5th, no I don't think I could say that.

The firsts are different. Below those 5 wines, I'd say the reliability of the 1855 classification as an indicator of quality is pretty dicey
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#9 Post by Jim Brennan » December 1st, 2018, 12:18 pm

Alan Eden wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:36 am
A. So wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:30 am
The tiers of crus are not a rank of quality.
??

What are they then
Marketing

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#10 Post by Neal.Mollen » December 1st, 2018, 12:21 pm

Jim Brennan wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 12:18 pm
Alan Eden wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:36 am
A. So wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:30 am
The tiers of crus are not a rank of quality.
??

What are they then
Marketing
Undeniably true as of 1855
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#11 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » December 1st, 2018, 12:46 pm

People are ignoring a very interesting question in the OP to get into a pointless debate about the 1855 classification. Everyone knows what was meant by the question. Is a Giscours or Calon Segur from a recent vintage the quality equivalent of Lafite or Latour from 1970? Has winemaking advanced that much? Or is it an impossible question because comparing apples and oranges?

Like probably many on the board I don’t have a lot of experience with the first growths, especially over time, and would love to see those who do opine on the question.

My own guess would be that the fruit concentration of a Giscours or Malescot today is probably greater than a lot of past first growths, but we don’t know how they’ll age. But I don’t really have the experience base to answer this question, hence my interest in hearing from those who do.

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#12 Post by Neal.Mollen » December 1st, 2018, 12:52 pm

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 12:46 pm
People are ignoring a very interesting question in the OP to get into a pointless debate about the 1855 classification. Everyone knows what was meant by the question. Is a Giscours or Calon Segur from a recent vintage the quality equivalent of Lafite or Latour from 1970? Has winemaking advanced that much? Or is it an impossible question because comparing apples and oranges?

Like probably many on the board I don’t have a lot of experience with the first growths, especially over time, and would love to see those who do opine on the question.

My own guess would be that the fruit concentration of a Giscours or Malescot today is probably greater than a lot of past first growths, but we don’t know how they’ll age. But I don’t really have the experience base to answer this question, hence my interest in hearing from those who do.
The OP's question is literally about the 1855 classification. If that classification is not qualitative, the question makes no sense. It is also a strangely specific question about a vintage virtually no one has tasted. Lafite in 70 was a pretty mediocre wine. I'd be shocked if some of the 3ds in '16 were not better. In fact, I'd be surprised if some 5ths were not better.

But being as I have not tasted a single 16, I couldn't say
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#13 Post by Joe B » December 1st, 2018, 12:53 pm

Hasn't climate change affected quality by now of what was the first growths predominant area?
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#14 Post by Neal.Mollen » December 1st, 2018, 12:54 pm

Joe B wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 12:53 pm
Hasn't climate change affected quality by now of what was the first growths predominant area?
Chinese hoax.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#15 Post by Marcu$ Stanley » December 1st, 2018, 1:05 pm

Neal.Mollen wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 12:52 pm
Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 12:46 pm
People are ignoring a very interesting question in the OP to get into a pointless debate about the 1855 classification. Everyone knows what was meant by the question. Is a Giscours or Calon Segur from a recent vintage the quality equivalent of Lafite or Latour from 1970? Has winemaking advanced that much? Or is it an impossible question because comparing apples and oranges?

Like probably many on the board I don’t have a lot of experience with the first growths, especially over time, and would love to see those who do opine on the question.

My own guess would be that the fruit concentration of a Giscours or Malescot today is probably greater than a lot of past first growths, but we don’t know how they’ll age. But I don’t really have the experience base to answer this question, hence my interest in hearing from those who do.
The OP's question is literally about the 1855 classification.
No, it’s not about the 1855 classification. He is just using “first growths” as a shorthand for the very best and most celebrated wines in Bordeaux. No matter what you think about the classification everyone knows Lafite, Latour, Haut Brion etc. are the best wines in Bordeaux. He’s asking if mid-range classed growths today are better than the very best wines made in Bordeaux in the 70s.

For the literal minded, let me rephrase the question: are classed growth Bordeaux that sell at $50-75 on futures today better quality wines than Bordeaux first growths were in the 1970s?

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#16 Post by Neal.Mollen » December 1st, 2018, 1:11 pm

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 1:05 pm
Neal.Mollen wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 12:52 pm
Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 12:46 pm
People are ignoring a very interesting question in the OP to get into a pointless debate about the 1855 classification. Everyone knows what was meant by the question. Is a Giscours or Calon Segur from a recent vintage the quality equivalent of Lafite or Latour from 1970? Has winemaking advanced that much? Or is it an impossible question because comparing apples and oranges?

Like probably many on the board I don’t have a lot of experience with the first growths, especially over time, and would love to see those who do opine on the question.

My own guess would be that the fruit concentration of a Giscours or Malescot today is probably greater than a lot of past first growths, but we don’t know how they’ll age. But I don’t really have the experience base to answer this question, hence my interest in hearing from those who do.
The OP's question is literally about the 1855 classification.
No, it’s not about the 1855 classification. He is just using “first growths” as a shorthand for the very best and most celebrated wines in Bordeaux. No matter what you think about the classification everyone knows Lafite, Latour, Haut Brion etc. are the best wines in Bordeaux. He’s asking if mid-range classed growths today are better than the very best wines made in Bordeaux in the 70s.

For the literal minded, let me rephrase the question: are classed growth Bordeaux that sell at $50-75 on futures today better quality wines than Bordeaux first growths were in the 1970s?
With all due respect, you have fundamentally changed the question, and if you know that when he said "first growth" and "third growth" in the OP he actually meant neither, you must have an Eden Rosetta Stone unavailable to the rest of us.

Which 2016 $50 bordeaux are you referring to and how did you like them? I haven't tasted any, so I can't answer your question (although I thought I came pretty close w/r/t the 70 Lafite). If your (new) question is whether I could find a better 2016 wine for $75 than the 70 Lafite, I'd say probably so, but it would just be a guess. Now, whether I could find one at that price better than the 70 Figeac? That is quite another question. Because 1970 Figeac was better than any of the firsts I have had from 1970.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#17 Post by Neal.Mollen » December 1st, 2018, 1:32 pm

By the way, since you generalized the question and opened it up to "the 70s," instead of 5 specific wines from a specific year as in the OP, I'll answer this way: I bet (having tasted none of the wines) every single 3d growth from 2016 is better than any wine from the 1855 classification made in 1971, 72, 73, 74, 76, or 77. Every damn one of them, or damned close to it. The 70s kinda sucked in bdx.

Now, you could not do the same thing if you picked the decade of the 80s
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#18 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » December 1st, 2018, 2:23 pm

Marcu$ Stanley wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 1:05 pm
No, it’s not about the 1855 classification. He is just using “first growths” as a shorthand for the very best and most celebrated wines in Bordeaux.
Nope.

You decided to change the post. If he meant something else he can tell us.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#19 Post by Alan Eden » December 1st, 2018, 2:31 pm

Marcus has my intent correct. Im just asking has winemaking improved enough over 40-50 years that todays $100 bottles ( 3/4/5 ths ) are better than first growths 40-50 years ago. Not sure why everybody is going off on tangents
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#20 Post by Jayson Cohen » December 1st, 2018, 3:22 pm

Neal.Mollen wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 1:32 pm
By the way, since you generalized the question and opened it up to "the 70s," instead of 5 specific wines from a specific year as in the OP, I'll answer this way: I bet (having tasted none of the wines) every single 3d growth from 2016 is better than any wine from the 1855 classification made in 1971, 72, 73, 74, 76, or 77. Every damn one of them, or damned close to it. The 70s kinda sucked in bdx.
Neal, you’ve violated what you said originally because you haven’t tasted any 2016s. Nor have I. But I’ll play your game with the vintages you list: Probably Wrong. Probably. Probably. Probably. Probably. Impossible to know yet but probably. Probably.

Also I’m very happy for people to continue to perpetuate the generalized view that the 70s in Bordeaux kinda sucked. You can send me all of your classified growths from 70, 71, 75, 76, 78, and 79 if you don’t want them, and I’d be happy to pick up the postage or even drive down to DC to pick them up.

If we talk 1970 itself, all of the first growths except the Lafite are excellent.

If we flip the question, I dare say I’d put a well stored, intact bottle of 1970 Ducru against recent First Growths, and I’d expect the Ducru would hold its own.

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#21 Post by crickey » December 1st, 2018, 3:41 pm

Since we are past the silly bickering stage, let's try to start in with an answer to the question. Although it was intended more generically, let's use 1970 as at least 1970 was a decent vintage; this would be easy if we were using, say, 1972. Using Parker's ratings on 1970 as a proxy (people with different experiences can substitute theirs) and politely including Mouton Rothschild as a first growth, although it didn't get that rank until 1973:

Haut Brion: 85
Lafite: 85
Latour: 98+
Margaux: 76
Mouton: 93 (described as "irregular")

If we want to use 1982, a great vintage, we see:

Haut Brion: 94
Lafite: 100
Latour: 100
Margaux: 98+
Mouton: 100

Or 1990, another good vintage and long enough ago to see some effect of change:

Haut Brion: 96
Lafite: 92
Latour: 98
Margaux: 100
Mouton: 87

So to compare the second growths in 2016 to the first growths. These are my opinions; others can chime in: that was the point of opening the discussion. (NB: the comparison for the first growths is sort of an average; for instance, nothing is going to beat 1990 Margaux or 1982 Latour, but I didn't want to type that every single time.)

Rauzan Segla: Much better than 1970, not as good as 1982, almost on par with 1990.
Rauzan Gassies: Maybe better than 1970, not in the same league as 1982 or 1990.
Leoville Las Cases: Much, much better than 1970, on par with 1982, better than 1990.
Leoville Poyferre: Much, much better than 1970, nearly on par with 1982, better than 1990.
Leoville Barton: Much better than 1970, close but not quite as good as 1982, on par with 1990. Also a good value.
Durfort Vivens: Better than 1970, not as good as 1982, not as good as 1990.
Lacombes: Better than 1970, not in the same league as 1982 or 1990.
Gruaud Larose: Much better than 1970, not as good as 1982 (maybe not as good as its 1982 counterpart), on par with 1990.
Brane Cantenac: Much better than 1970, not in same league as 1982 or 1990.
Pichon Baron: Much, much better than 1970, nearly on par with 1982, better than 1990 (maybe not as good as its 1990 counterpart).
Pichon Lalande: Much, much better than 1970, nearly on par with 1982 (maybe not as good as its 1982 counterpart), better than 1990.
Ducru Beaucaillou: Much, much better than 1970, nearly on par with 1982, better than 1990.
Cos d'Estournel: Much, much better than 1970, close but not quite as good as 1982, on par with 1990. Yes, I am aware the 2016 received 100 points from the WA.
Montrose: Much, much better than 1970, on par with 1982, better than 1990 (maybe not as good as its 1990 counterpart).

Because this was a lot of work, I'm skipping to the fourth growths.

St Pierre: Better than 1970, not as good as 1982 or 1990.
Brainaire: Better than 1970, not as good as 1982 or 1990.
Talbot: A little better than 1970, not in the same league as 1982 or 1990.
Duhart-Milon: Much better than 1970, not as good as 1982 or 1990.
Pouget: No idea, so probably not as good as anything back then.
La Tour Carnet: A little better than 1970, not in the same league as 1982 or 1990.
Lafon Rochet: Better than 1970, not as good as 1982 or 1990.
Beychevelle: Much better than 1970, not as good as 1982, close but not as good as 1990. Unclear if the 2016 was an exception or they can sustain the quality.
Prieure Lichine: A little better than 1970, not in the same league as 1982 or 1990.
Marquis de Terme: Better than 1970, not as good as 1982 or 1990.

Several of the fifth growths have clearly moved up in the ranks, so highlighting them.

Pontet Canet: Much, much better than 1970, nearly on par with 1982, better than 1990.
Grand Puy Lacoste: Much, much better than 1970, close but not as good as 1982 or 1990 (maybe not as good as either its 1982 or 1990 counterpart).
Lynch Bages: Much, much better than 1970, close but not quite as good as 1982, better than 1990 (maybe not as good as its 1990 counterpart).

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#22 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » December 1st, 2018, 3:41 pm

Alan Eden wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 2:31 pm
Marcus has my intent correct. Im just asking has winemaking improved enough over 40-50 years that todays $100 bottles ( 3/4/5 ths ) are better than first growths 40-50 years ago. Not sure why everybody is going off on tangents
Because it’s not what you asked. Makes sense to clarify.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#23 Post by crickey » December 1st, 2018, 3:54 pm

Two related perspectives: Are the 2016 first growths better than 2016 2nd-5th growths (or other Bordeaux wines which were not part of the 1855 classification system) and would you rather drink a 1970 first growth today or a 2016 2nd-5th growth? The answer to the first is apparently, yes, but they cost an exorbitant amount of money. The answer to the second depends on your tastes; guessing from Alan's other posts, I think he would hate the 1970 Bordeaux wines. Me: I'm not particularly interested in drinking either today, although if someone put any of them in front of me, I would drink it.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#24 Post by Neal.Mollen » December 1st, 2018, 4:01 pm

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 3:41 pm
Alan Eden wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 2:31 pm
Marcus has my intent correct. Im just asking has winemaking improved enough over 40-50 years that todays $100 bottles ( 3/4/5 ths ) are better than first growths 40-50 years ago. Not sure why everybody is going off on tangents
Because it’s not what you asked. Makes sense to clarify.
Shame on you for actually reading his post.

70, 75, 78 and 79 produced some good to excellent wines. In my experience one can't really say the same about 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, or 77. But my experience isn't as exhaustive as some and I would be happy to learn about where I am wrong.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#25 Post by Dale Williams » December 1st, 2018, 4:19 pm

Neal.Mollen wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 4:01 pm
70, 75, 78 and 79 produced some good to excellent wines. In my experience one can't really say the same about 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, or 77. But my experience isn't as exhaustive as some and I would be happy to learn about where I am wrong.
1971 made some really good wines, especially on RB. And Graves. But even if limiting to Medoc I think the Latour is stunning (and Les Forts is damn good), Lafite (at least from mag) is excellent, and there are some strong other wines like Giscours.
I've had drinkable '74 and '76s but nothing to seek, can't remember an enjoyable 72, 73, 77

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#26 Post by Joe B » December 1st, 2018, 4:40 pm

D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 3:41 pm
Alan Eden wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 2:31 pm
Marcus has my intent correct. Im just asking has winemaking improved enough over 40-50 years that todays $100 bottles ( 3/4/5 ths ) are better than first growths 40-50 years ago. Not sure why everybody is going off on tangents
Because it’s not what you asked. Makes sense to clarify.
It was pretty clear from what I read.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#27 Post by Jayson Cohen » December 1st, 2018, 4:50 pm

Dale Williams wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 4:19 pm
Neal.Mollen wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 4:01 pm
70, 75, 78 and 79 produced some good to excellent wines. In my experience one can't really say the same about 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, or 77. But my experience isn't as exhaustive as some and I would be happy to learn about where I am wrong.
1971 made some really good wines, especially on RB. And Graves. But even if limiting to Medoc I think the Latour is stunning (and Les Forts is damn good), Lafite (at least from mag) is excellent, and there are some strong other wines like Giscours.
I've had drinkable '74 and '76s but nothing to seek, can't remember an enjoyable 72, 73, 77
Neal, you should come visit NY and we can try to put together a ‘71 horizontal although it’s a little harder and more expensive to source than it used to be. I was at an astoundingly good ‘71 horizontal last year. John Gilman wrote up the notes in View from the Cellar if you have access to it.

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#28 Post by dcornutt » December 1st, 2018, 5:01 pm

1970 was a good to excellent vintage in Bordeaux if I understand well. The Latour and Petrus are absolutely stunning. I can't imagine that other first growths wouldn't have been at least excellent in 1970 despite the Parker scores. There is no 3rd growth that can compare for sure with the first two I mentioned even in the greatest vintage ever.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#29 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » December 1st, 2018, 5:06 pm

Neal.Mollen wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 4:01 pm
D@vid Bu3ker wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 3:41 pm
Alan Eden wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 2:31 pm
Marcus has my intent correct. Im just asking has winemaking improved enough over 40-50 years that todays $100 bottles ( 3/4/5 ths ) are better than first growths 40-50 years ago. Not sure why everybody is going off on tangents
Because it’s not what you asked. Makes sense to clarify.
Shame on you for actually reading his post.

70, 75, 78 and 79 produced some good to excellent wines. In my experience one can't really say the same about 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, or 77. But my experience isn't as exhaustive as some and I would be happy to learn about where I am wrong.
Well since he opened it up, 1971 Petrus was $25 and is still amazing (I have had it three times in the last five years). I would drink it over a huge % of top current Bordeaux.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#30 Post by Arv R » December 1st, 2018, 5:25 pm

I'm not very TCA sensitive, but have gotten hit with it twice in the last month, and in one dimension from my limited perspective where new seems to better than older is that I get hit less with corked wines for modern versus older vintages.

Maybe that's just cellar practices. Or time/temp causing brett bloom and other stuff.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#31 Post by Mattstolz » December 1st, 2018, 5:40 pm

crickey wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 3:41 pm

::lots of good analysis that I don't mean to detract from::

Rauzan Segla: Much better than 1970, not as good as 1982, almost on par with 1990.
Rauzan Gassies: Maybe better than 1970, not in the same league as 1982 or 1990.
Leoville Las Cases: Much, much better than 1970, on par with 1982, better than 1990.
Leoville Poyferre: Much, much better than 1970, nearly on par with 1982, better than 1990.
Leoville Barton: Much better than 1970, close but not quite as good as 1982, on par with 1990. Also a good value.
Durfort Vivens: Better than 1970, not as good as 1982, not as good as 1990.
Lacombes: Better than 1970, not in the same league as 1982 or 1990.
Gruaud Larose: Much better than 1970, not as good as 1982 (maybe not as good as its 1982 counterpart), on par with 1990.
Brane Cantenac: Much better than 1970, not in same league as 1982 or 1990.
Pichon Baron: Much, much better than 1970, nearly on par with 1982, better than 1990 (maybe not as good as its 1990 counterpart).
Pichon Lalande: Much, much better than 1970, nearly on par with 1982 (maybe not as good as its 1982 counterpart), better than 1990.
Ducru Beaucaillou: Much, much better than 1970, nearly on par with 1982, better than 1990.
Cos d'Estournel: Much, much better than 1970, close but not quite as good as 1982, on par with 1990. Yes, I am aware the 2016 received 100 points from the WA.
Montrose: Much, much better than 1970, on par with 1982, better than 1990 (maybe not as good as its 1990 counterpart).

::lots of good analysis that I don't mean to detract from::

so you've compare them to themselves, but what about these specifics compared to the wines from the first growths around the 70s?

Because the way I read this question was something along these lines:
Has the average quality of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th growths over the last (decade? insert some shortish amount of recent time here) been better than the average quality of the first growths over some similar time frame in a period of time before what most people would consider modern winemaking techniques came around?

I think the question is partly about worth of the 1st growths, partly about whether knowledge has allowed lesser growths to close the gap, and partly about how much the previously mentioned marketing aspect of 1855 Classification plays into what we think of and how we price the wines now.

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#32 Post by Mike Evans » December 1st, 2018, 5:41 pm

dcornutt wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 5:01 pm
1970 was a good to excellent vintage in Bordeaux if I understand well. The Latour and Petrus are absolutely stunning. I can't imagine that other first growths wouldn't have been at least excellent in 1970 despite the Parker scores. There is no 3rd growth that can compare for sure with the first two I mentioned even in the greatest vintage ever.
Don, good bottles of Mouton are very good, but it is quite variable and most I’ve had have been on the harsh side. Haut Brion is very good. Lafite and Margaux were in the doldrums and their wines reflect it. Neither are First Growth caliber for a good vintage and I find that positive reactions generally come from people who know that are drinking First Growths.

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#33 Post by crickey » December 1st, 2018, 5:54 pm

Mattstolz wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 5:40 pm
so you've compare them to themselves, but what about these specifics compared to the wines from the first growths around the 70s?

Because the way I read this question was something along these lines:
Has the average quality of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th growths over the last (decade? insert some shortish amount of recent time here) been better than the average quality of the first growths over some similar time frame in a period of time before what most people would consider modern winemaking techniques came around?

I think the question is partly about worth of the 1st growths, partly about whether knowledge has allowed lesser growths to close the gap, and partly about how much the previously mentioned marketing aspect of 1855 Classification plays into what we think of and how we price the wines now.
I was comparing the 2016 of the other classified growths to the first growths from the various years, so I was trying to answer (in my opinion) the answers to your (and Alan's) questions. Sometimes I would point out how they compared to their older counterparts, so for instance, the 1982 Pichon Lalande is probably better than the 2016 version (which is apparently very good), which was meant to indicate that some of the non-first growths have been producing top-level wines for some time.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#34 Post by crickey » December 1st, 2018, 5:59 pm

dcornutt wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 5:01 pm
1970 was a good to excellent vintage in Bordeaux if I understand well. The Latour and Petrus are absolutely stunning. I can't imagine that other first growths wouldn't have been at least excellent in 1970 despite the Parker scores. There is no 3rd growth that can compare for sure with the first two I mentioned even in the greatest vintage ever.
That assumption is part of the point. The first growths were more variable back then, so you can't assume, as you can today, that they all produce comparable wines. Margaux in particular was sucky, and I say that with regret as it is my favorite first growth.

Palmer is a third growth and probably can reach those heights in a great vintage, although it is now priced like an elite wine.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#35 Post by Mattstolz » December 1st, 2018, 7:14 pm

crickey wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 5:54 pm
Mattstolz wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 5:40 pm
so you've compare them to themselves, but what about these specifics compared to the wines from the first growths around the 70s?

Because the way I read this question was something along these lines:
Has the average quality of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th growths over the last (decade? insert some shortish amount of recent time here) been better than the average quality of the first growths over some similar time frame in a period of time before what most people would consider modern winemaking techniques came around?

I think the question is partly about worth of the 1st growths, partly about whether knowledge has allowed lesser growths to close the gap, and partly about how much the previously mentioned marketing aspect of 1855 Classification plays into what we think of and how we price the wines now.
I was comparing the 2016 of the other classified growths to the first growths from the various years, so I was trying to answer (in my opinion) the answers to your (and Alan's) questions. Sometimes I would point out how they compared to their older counterparts, so for instance, the 1982 Pichon Lalande is probably better than the 2016 version (which is apparently very good), which was meant to indicate that some of the non-first growths have been producing top-level wines for some time.
that was about how I read it I guess looking back again. I haven't had the experience with the classified Bordeaux wines that a lot have but I would say it makes sense to assume that a lot of the lower classified growths have closed the gap over the years. especially as they all change hands and swap winemakers and go to the same schools and grow vines on (relative to other wine regions at least) relatively flat land (I know this is a gross generalization though)

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#36 Post by Oliver V » December 1st, 2018, 8:35 pm

Alan Eden wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 2:31 pm
Marcus has my intent correct. Im just asking has winemaking improved enough over 40-50 years that todays $100 bottles ( 3/4/5 ths ) are better than first growths 40-50 years ago. Not sure why everybody is going off on tangents
Your intent was clear. But it's fun to pretend apparently.

I think the biggest change is consistency. If the weather was good, the first growths of old were of similar quality to the firsts today I think. In that respect the 1970s might not be the best comparison point given the number of poor years.

In a less than stellar vintage, it's no contest IMO. The 3rd growths of today are far better than the old firsts.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#37 Post by Howard Cooper » December 1st, 2018, 8:37 pm

The 1970 first growths were not uniform and 2016 third growths will not be uniform. Lafite was underperforming in 1970 and so it is not very good. . Likely a number of 2016 wines would be better. By contrast, 1970 Latour is fabulous. I doubt 2016 3rd growths would be better with one caveat. Haut Brion also was quite good in 1970.

What makes the question hard to answer is Palmer, a third growth. 1970 Palmer is a great wine - up with most 1970 first growths. I have not had 2016 Palmer, but would not be surprised if it was as good or better than most 1970 first growths.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#38 Post by Oliver V » December 1st, 2018, 9:12 pm

crickey wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 5:59 pm
The first growths were more variable back then, so you can't assume, as you can today, that they all produce comparable wines.
They could all produce great wines in a great vintage, but I think 1970 didn't produce great wines across the spectrum. The Latour is astounding, but HB is only good, Mouton ordinary (though with my favorite label of all) and Lafite and Margaux were flat out bad, as they often were in that era. Further down the results weren't much better.

Maybe a better comparison would be 1966 vs, say, 2008. In '66 all the firsts except Lafite were very good. The third growths of 2008 are, on average, a fraction better though, at least to me.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#39 Post by Mark Golodetz » December 1st, 2018, 9:17 pm

The problem with the OP is that it is not only inarticulate, but also misleading. With the exception of Latour, it is pretty clear that the First Growths in 1970 were not as good as the better non firsts such as Montrose, Palmer, Pichon Lalande, Giscours, Lynch Bages etc. If we accept that, then the whole question becomes nonsensical.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#40 Post by Karl K » December 1st, 2018, 10:13 pm

1971 Cheval Blanc about 7 years ago was lithe and enjoyable, with a noticeable Cab Franc flavor. 1976 Haut Brion in 2005 more warm red earthy and very nice, if not earth shaking.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#41 Post by Alan Eden » December 1st, 2018, 10:23 pm

Mark Golodetz wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 9:17 pm
The problem with the OP is that it is not only inarticulate, but also misleading. With the exception of Latour, it is pretty clear that the First Growths in 1970 were not as good as the better non firsts such as Montrose, Palmer, Pichon Lalande, Giscours, Lynch Bages etc. If we accept that, then the whole question becomes nonsensical.
So your saying that in the 60's or 70's the first growths were frequently surpassed by many lower cru wines ?
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#42 Post by Alan Eden » December 1st, 2018, 10:26 pm

You Bdx guys cant take a question at simple face value

Forget the exact vintage, all im asking is if viniculture and winemaking have improved enough that if say a good 3rd growth from 2016 could be sent in the magic time machine and drunk next to a sample of 40-50 year old first growths at he same age ie five years after bottling would the 3rd growth old its own or still be outclassed
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#43 Post by Jürgen Steinke » December 1st, 2018, 11:40 pm

Terroir is important and all First Growth have top terroir. But that's not everything. The work in the vineyard and the cellar is as important. Fifth Growth like Lynch Bages and Pontet Canet are able to produce wines on par or better than First Growth in certain vintages. That makes clear that the classification of 1855 is more of historical than qualitative interest. And btw: Image and marketing play and played a big role – price does not necessarily reflect the quality. First Growth are expensive even in weak vintages though they cannot hold a candle to so called lesser Grands Crus from top vintages but cost a fraction of the firsts. I think with the exception of the best bottles of 1970 Latour none of the other First Growth is as good as let's say Palmer 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015 ...

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#44 Post by Mark Golodetz » December 2nd, 2018, 3:44 am

Jürgen Steinke wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 11:40 pm
I think with the exception of the best bottles of 1970 Latour none of the other First Growth is as good as let's say Palmer 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015 ...
.....or 1970, 1966 and of course, the great 1961.

We should be clear that First Growths were not God ordained, but put together by a group of merchants in 1855. And they did a decent job, but made a large number of mistakes. Lascombes a second growth, Palmer a third?! Palmer along with Ducru, Montrose, and Las Cases arguably should be First Growths. Sociando Mallet not even classified and Lynch Bages a fifth etc etc.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#45 Post by A. So » December 2nd, 2018, 5:16 am

Let's not forget Mouton in 1970 was a 2eme cru
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#46 Post by crickey » December 2nd, 2018, 6:51 am

The original question was neither inarticulate nor misleading. The question is essentially: if I want a wine of quality [x], and in 1970 to get [x] quality, I would have had to buy a first growth (or one of several other classified growths, such as Palmer; think of "first growth" as a stand-in for the few consistently top quality wines), for the 2016 vintage can I buy a broad selection of non-first growths to get quality [x] or do I need to stick with the first growths and the "super seconds"?

I took a stab at answering that question, in part because I was curious to see what the answer would be (I didn't know until I started if only because I don't pay much attention to the classifications). The second growths were easy, as pretty much all of them are better. It got more difficult as I moved down the scale; I was not able to say with confidence, sure, throw a dart, you will get a better wine (or a wine of quality [x] to stick with the example).

I would be interested to hear the opinions of more experienced Bordeaux enthusiasts, such as Mark, on that question.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#47 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » December 2nd, 2018, 7:13 am

It’s a tough question to ask for many reasons, let alone how many folks here have both deep experience with 1970s FGs and have already tried many of the yet-to-be released Third Growths?

For context, here are the Thirds:

Third Growths (3ème Cru Classé)

Chateau Kirwan, Margaux
Chateau d’Issan, Margaux
Chateau Lagrange, St-Julien
Chateau Langoa Barton, St-Julien
Chateau Giscours, Margaux
Chateau Malescot St Exupery, Margaux
Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux
Chateau Boyd-Cantenac, Margaux
Chateau Palmer, Margaux
Chateau La Lagune, Haut-Medoc
Chateau Desmirail, Margaux
Chateau Dubignon, Margaux
Chateau Calon-Segur, St-Estèphe
Chateau Ferrière, Margaux
Chateau Marquis d’Alesme Becker, Margaux

To me, the best of the bunch and the most consistent over the terms have been Palmer and Calon Segur.

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#48 Post by crickey » December 2nd, 2018, 7:15 am

Other ways of assessing the question of what impact the improved quality of wine-making has had (let's assume their has been advances; the Bordeaux themselves think so) might be to ask:

1. Has the improvement been mainly resulted in greater consistency from vintage to vintage, but if you were to compare like vintages you would find the same general hierarchy across the classified growths? This question is intended to filter out the vintage comparison noise in Alan's original question.

2. Has the improvement increased the number of quality wines, such that in any given vintage, rather than ten good-to-great wines you can have 50-80 good-to-great wines? This question of course brings back the vintage noise in full, as one of the marks of a great vintage is that the quality extends widely, so it is difficult to distinguish the effect of improved wine-making from the quality of the vintage.

3. Has the improvement closed the gap between the classifications such that any lower growth can produce near-first growth quality wine through capital investment and implementing better wine-making which is available to any with sufficient money? This is essentially the question Matt asked above and was probably a buried assumption in Alan's original question. Given the influx of capital into Bordeaux in the last 20-30 years, clearly many people think they can accomplish precisely this. This is also the heart of much of the controversy over "modern" Bordeaux as it gets tangled up in what constitutes an "improvement" in wine-making, as well as dismay over increasing costs to consumers.
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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#49 Post by Jayson Cohen » December 2nd, 2018, 7:48 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
December 2nd, 2018, 7:13 am
It’s a tough question to ask for many reasons, let alone how many folks here have both deep experience with 1970s FGs and have already tried many of the yet-to-be released Third Growths?

For context, here are the Thirds:

Third Growths (3ème Cru Classé)

Chateau Kirwan, Margaux
Chateau d’Issan, Margaux
Chateau Lagrange, St-Julien
Chateau Langoa Barton, St-Julien
Chateau Giscours, Margaux
Chateau Malescot St Exupery, Margaux
Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux
Chateau Boyd-Cantenac, Margaux
Chateau Palmer, Margaux
Chateau La Lagune, Haut-Medoc
Chateau Desmirail, Margaux
Chateau Dubignon, Margaux
Chateau Calon-Segur, St-Estèphe
Chateau Ferrière, Margaux
Chateau Marquis d’Alesme Becker, Margaux

To me, the best of the bunch and the most consistent over the terms have been Palmer and Calon Segur.
So here you are being practical and trying to make this concrete. But how does one even start to answer unless someone has tasted these all in 2015 and 2016? And has a time machine that moves backwards and forwards in time?

Re: 1970 for me it’s easy. It’s not rational. Birth year (ok-Lafite does suck) versus another alleged random Bordeaux vintage of the century / decade / biannum that is unlikely to be mature in my lifetime. Give me the 1970 first growths. (And throw in the Mouton). And don’t forget Cheval and Petrus.

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Re: Are 2016 3rd growths as good as 1970 firsts ?

#50 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » December 2nd, 2018, 8:15 am

Jayson Cohen wrote:
December 2nd, 2018, 7:48 am

So here you are being practical and trying to make this concrete. But how does one even start to answer unless someone has tasted these all in 2015 and 2016? And has a time machine that moves backwards and forwards in time?
Hence me giving Leve shit on that other thread about modern Bordeaux. The way you know, within reasonably predictable limits, is because you know the estates well, have followed them for years, and understand that 2015 and 2016 are above-average vintages. Odds are, you will like what you buy without having tasted it before. Isn't this how we did things before the mass proliferation of critics and mass tasting events? Now it's a crap shoot at times, 'cause you don't know what estate Rolland has infiltrated and spat on with his ubiquitous brand of modernism. And then you take a time warp back to the '70s for comparative purposes!

Just a quick check on a couple of obvious examples from thsi list of Third Growths, Rolland consults for Malescot and did for a long time at Kirwan. La Lagune of today is not the same as La Lagune of the past, now owned by the Jaboulet family and using a major wine consultant. Why on earth would I buy new La Lagune when I can still backfill on that once-glorious estate, just picked up a smattering of the delicious 1986s from WineBid at $50 per. PS. Not suggesting that La Lagune has gone totally rogue, I've have bought 2010 and 2009, but nothing more current until I get a better feel for where this Chateau heads.

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