1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Post Reply
Message
Author
Kelly Flynn
Posts: 704
Joined: March 14th, 2018, 11:12 am

1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#1 Post by Kelly Flynn » May 28th, 2019, 11:05 am

Taking the learned counsel of several WBers, this weekend I uncorked my first BAMA. Perfect cork and fill. Decanted three hours and served with grilled rib eyes.

The wine is murky and cloudy, and initially not so appealing on the nose. Sort of tart, like a strawberry-rhubarb pie. There is nothing clearly "wrong" with the wine. It is balanced, with decent length, and completely drinkable. On the other hand, if served blind I would never have guessed this to be cabernet -- let alone Margaux. More grainy texture than silky. A very subtle wine, and I mean that not necessarily in a flattering way. There was a bit of burning leaves in it as well. There was also some sweet/savory tension that made me wonder whether some Musar had fallen into the mix -- which, again, though I am a big fan of Musar, I don't mention as a compliment. I could not discern any further evolution over the course of a two hour dinner.

But what struck me most was that my Mom was over, and she likes most everything I open, but not this one. She's not one to bite her tongue, and she just puckered up her face when I asked how she liked it.

Maybe my expectations simply did not align with BAMA reality? 1998 vintage not great/not representative? Too short a decant? Others have talked about BAMA bottle variation. For better or worse, I have a few remaining -- 95, 96, 00. I will try to maintain an open mind and report on them when I get to them.

User avatar
Ian A
Posts: 198
Joined: November 13th, 2014, 6:37 am

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#2 Post by Ian A » May 28th, 2019, 1:10 pm

Interesting Kelly.

We all sing the praises of the 1998 right banks and Pessacs but in the Medoc 1998 was actually a very difficult vintage. That actuality was brought home to me at a recent tasting here in London. The Cabernet got waterlogged from late September on. The top estates still managed to make good wine but some of the others really struggled. The 1998 Medoc vintage was not dissimilar to 1964, which was generally terrible with notable exceptions including Latour and Montrose, who picked early; the crucial difference being the leap in technology over the 34 years and the role played by reverse osmosis and other techniques. It is unlikely that BAMA would have had a reverse osmosis machine 20 years ago.
Ian Amstad

User avatar
Robert.A.Jr.
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 20144
Joined: January 28th, 2010, 5:03 am
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#3 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » May 28th, 2019, 5:09 pm

Ian got that right. I did not buy the 1998 BAMA vintage, but did buy 95, 96, 99, 2000, etc.

I did not even buy my beloved Sociando in 1998, and it’s own gravelly soil. It’s probably fine, though.

"@lf3rt was clearly raised in an outhouse in the Loire. . . ."

Kenny H (circa 2015)

doug johnson
Posts: 659
Joined: September 7th, 2011, 4:04 pm

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#4 Post by doug johnson » May 28th, 2019, 7:56 pm

I liked the '98 - this is my tasting note from a few months back: Give it a little air. Pretty but not quite as beautiful as the '95 a few days ago - not as silky in texture. Good earthy, tobacco-y and red berry smells. Tastes the same as it smells. Rougher tannins and more spice on the finish than the '95.

User avatar
Julian Marshall
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 627
Joined: August 12th, 2011, 4:44 am
Location: Paris, France

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#5 Post by Julian Marshall » June 2nd, 2019, 3:48 am

Kelly, I didn't write anything initially because I value your judgement, since our tastes often overlap, but also because I wanted to try one first. I only bought one bottle of 98 last year out of curiosity. When I read your note I suspected it may have been a dud bottle, which is a risk with BAMA, and the bottle we had last night confirmed that it probably was. Ours was brilliant - fresh, floral notes at first with redcurrant and cranberry, before an attack of the same, leading into a beguiling blend of wild strawberry and blackberry and a typically restrained but persistent finish. After a while, blackcurrant flavours appeared mid-palate and hints of tobacco, but none of the caramel I feared. Unlike Doug, I didn't get any rough tannins, on the contrary, it was smooth and silky. I think intrinsically, the 95 and 96 may be superior, but this is just as good in its own way and great for drinking now. The most striking aspect is the freshness of the fruit, untainted by any oak. I hope you enjoy the others more!

Kelly Flynn
Posts: 704
Joined: March 14th, 2018, 11:12 am

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#6 Post by Kelly Flynn » June 3rd, 2019, 12:52 pm

Julian Marshall wrote:
June 2nd, 2019, 3:48 am
Kelly, I didn't write anything initially because I value your judgement, since our tastes often overlap, but also because I wanted to try one first. I only bought one bottle of 98 last year out of curiosity. When I read your note I suspected it may have been a dud bottle, which is a risk with BAMA, and the bottle we had last night confirmed that it probably was. Ours was brilliant - fresh, floral notes at first with redcurrant and cranberry, before an attack of the same, leading into a beguiling blend of wild strawberry and blackberry and a typically restrained but persistent finish. After a while, blackcurrant flavours appeared mid-palate and hints of tobacco, but none of the caramel I feared. Unlike Doug, I didn't get any rough tannins, on the contrary, it was smooth and silky. I think intrinsically, the 95 and 96 may be superior, but this is just as good in its own way and great for drinking now. The most striking aspect is the freshness of the fruit, untainted by any oak. I hope you enjoy the others more!
Thank you, Julian, and well played on your bottle last night. I have one more 98, and hope to prove your "dud bottle" suspicion correct when I open it.

As I think about it, caramel was one of the off-putting notes in the bottle in my OP.

Kelly Flynn
Posts: 704
Joined: March 14th, 2018, 11:12 am

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#7 Post by Kelly Flynn » July 10th, 2019, 8:25 am

A brief postscript on the 1998 BAMA: We opened another last night, with veal, and it was quite different, leading me to conclude that first bottle (OP) was indeed flawed.

I think, at long last, I "get it". The word I would use is "idiosyncratic". It had the nose of Margaux, but other than that, to this taster, it was barely perceptible as bordeaux -- or, for that matter, even as cab/merlot. Indeed it tasted downright "old fashioned" to me, as others have noted. Though the mouthfeel is soft, there is simply nothing slick or hedonistic about this wine. A bit brambly like a southern Rhone, but without the high alcohol. A good deal of earth as well. A contemplative wine, I really enjoyed it.

This was my last 98, but now I am thankful I stocked up on 95, 96 and 00.

User avatar
Robert.A.Jr.
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 20144
Joined: January 28th, 2010, 5:03 am
Location: Orlando, Florida

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#8 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » July 10th, 2019, 8:32 am

Thanks for posting. I have some coming but have not tried it. The other vintages you have are flat out excellent.

"@lf3rt was clearly raised in an outhouse in the Loire. . . ."

Kenny H (circa 2015)

Laurent Gibet
Posts: 717
Joined: May 1st, 2010, 9:48 am

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#9 Post by Laurent Gibet » July 10th, 2019, 8:47 am

1. October 2017 :
Bel Air Marquis d’Aligre 1998 : 17/20
An excellent showing, as Kevin Shin would say ...

2. June 2014 :
Bel Air Marquis d’Aligre 1998 : 17/20

3. February 2013 - BAMA second verticale - report by Pierre Citerne :
Margaux : Château Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre Grand Cru Exceptionnel 1998
DS17,5/18 - PC17 - PR18 - LG17 - MS17 - MF18 - FM17.
Robe délicate, particulièrement translucide. Bouquet formé et séduisant, caractéristique, grand raffinement floral, tabac blond, miel... Bouche tendre, sapide, nuancée, végétalité fine intégrée à la douceur et à la fraîcheur du fruit. Élégance de bout en bout, vin charmant et plein de verve.


4. April 2010 - BAMA first verticale :
Margaux : Château Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre Grand Cru Exceptionnel 1998 - 12,5°
L’après-midi : DS16,5/17 - PR16,5 - CD16. Report by Philippe Ricard
Robe rubis, toujours un peu terne, avec une trace d’évolution brique sur les bords du disque.
On souligne toujours la complexité aromatique de ces vins peu ordinaires (encore une comparaison avec le pinot) même si, sur cet échantillon, le cabernet a davantage pris les devants, façon végétal « noble » (mélange de poivron rôti, d’herbe coupée, de roncier). Accompagnent aussi les pétales séchés, les fruits acidulés (groseille, cassis), dans un ensemble très frais.
Matière moins hédoniste, bâtie sans trop de chair ni de largeur, mais avec un caractère trempé, une rigueur un peu stricte, exigeante, une acidité terriblement salivante et cette petite vibration minérale, crayeuse, qui évoque l’esprit des chinons du domaine Lenoir... La finesse superlative et cette intense fraîcheur finissent par convaincre, même s’il est peut-être plus facile de préférer la pulpe et la générosité du style 2000...
Le soir : DS16/16,5 - PC16/16,5 - LG16 - MS16 - PM16. Report by Laurent Gibet
Aspect plus éthéré, sanguin, pour des senteurs principales de poivron et de fruits à l'alcool.
L'alcool semble plus présent, ainsi que les tannins. Bonne densité mais composant plus épars, avec une certaine présence acide. En bref : moins finement unifié. Il faudra suivre son évolution.


I still have 2 botlles of 1998 in my cellar ...

The best old vintages I crossed :
1947 (19/20)
1961 (19/20)
1959 (17/20)
1962 (18/20)
1970 (18/20)
www.invinoveritastoulouse.fr

User avatar
Pat Martin
Posts: 2524
Joined: May 22nd, 2011, 11:38 pm

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#10 Post by Pat Martin » July 10th, 2019, 11:16 am

Another data point here: I too succumbed to the Berserkers BAMA koolaid and bought a few bottles of the 2000. I gave it a few weeks in the cellar to settle down and then tried one.

My reactions were similar to Kelly’s first bottle of the 98, if a little better. I am a devout acolyte of old school Bordeaux, but my bottle of the BAMA 2000 was lacking much in the way of excitement. It showed a lot but not excessive of green (which I like), and a dry earthy impression. There were a few fleeting, beguiling glimpses of strawberry, but they weren’t sustained. Overall, a little too austere to get jazzed about.

If served blind, I might have called it a leaner vintage of Sociando, which is fine praise in its own right, but Sociando can be readily found $30-$50 while BAMA routinely runs $65-$75 in the USA.

I gave this bottle lots of air and followed it over 24 hours, so aeration wasn’t it. Maybe it could use more cellar time, but it didn’t come off as closed up. Sounds like I got an off bottle, despite a perfect fill and cork.
P@ tr!ck M 8rt!n

User avatar
Claus Jeppesen
Posts: 1596
Joined: April 27th, 2010, 2:42 am

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#11 Post by Claus Jeppesen » July 10th, 2019, 12:53 pm

It is pretty amazing that vintages like 1995, 1996 and 2000 still can be found for sub 50 $ in EU
And older vintages like 1970 for sub 150$
Thanks for the note and the comments
Claus

Riesling and Slate

Laurent Gibet
Posts: 717
Joined: May 1st, 2010, 9:48 am

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#12 Post by Laurent Gibet » July 10th, 2019, 4:38 pm

Claus Jeppesen wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 12:53 pm
It is pretty amazing that vintages like 1995, 1996 and 2000 still can be found for sub 50 $ in EU
And older vintages like 1970 for sub 150$
Thanks for the note and the comments
I paid the extraordinary 1947 "only" 150 euros.
Drunk at this level 5 times. One of the greatest wines of the twentieth century.

As we say in french : "un vilain petit canard" ...
www.invinoveritastoulouse.fr

User avatar
Claus Jeppesen
Posts: 1596
Joined: April 27th, 2010, 2:42 am

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#13 Post by Claus Jeppesen » July 12th, 2019, 6:39 am

I have to admit that I was unaware of the wine until I read Alferts brilliant note on the 1995. Ifocus mainly on Burgundy, Northern Rhone and Piedmont for red wine
But it is amazing that you can buy these mature Bordeaux at extremely reasonable prices (1947 is mature, right?) [drinkers.gif]
Claus

Riesling and Slate

Jonathan Loesberg
Posts: 1613
Joined: April 27th, 2010, 5:59 am

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#14 Post by Jonathan Loesberg » July 12th, 2019, 6:59 am

Laurent Gibet wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 4:38 pm
Claus Jeppesen wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 12:53 pm
It is pretty amazing that vintages like 1995, 1996 and 2000 still can be found for sub 50 $ in EU
And older vintages like 1970 for sub 150$
Thanks for the note and the comments
I paid the extraordinary 1947 "only" 150 euros.
Drunk at this level 5 times. One of the greatest wines of the twentieth century.

As we say in french : "un vilain petit canard" ...
Why would you call "one of the greatest wines of the twentieth century" an ugly duckling? Did it not taste as good when it was young?
Last edited by Jonathan Loesberg on July 12th, 2019, 7:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

Laurent Gibet
Posts: 717
Joined: May 1st, 2010, 9:48 am

Re: 1998 Bel Air-Marquis d'Aligre

#15 Post by Laurent Gibet » July 12th, 2019, 7:16 am

Jonathan Loesberg wrote:
July 12th, 2019, 6:59 am
Laurent Gibet wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 4:38 pm
Claus Jeppesen wrote:
July 10th, 2019, 12:53 pm
It is pretty amazing that vintages like 1995, 1996 and 2000 still can be found for sub 50 $ in EU
And older vintages like 1970 for sub 150$
Thanks for the note and the comments
I paid the extraordinary 1947 "only" 150 euros.
Drunk at this level 5 times. One of the greatest wines of the twentieth century.

As we say in french : "un vilain petit canard" ...
Why wold you call "one of the greatest wines of the twentieth century" an ugly duckling? Did it not taste as good when it was young?
As written above, BAMA is idiosyncratic ... no wood ... old style ... not integrated in the Bordeaux commercial theater ...
No comparison with its prestigious neighbours.

I don't know how the 1947 was when it was young.
But after five recent tastings, I know that this 1947 is today a genuine marvel.
www.invinoveritastoulouse.fr

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”