1979 Château Duhart-Milon; 2005 Château Pontet-Canet

A pristine bottle, this 1979 Chateau Duhart-Milon showed fresh as a daisy. Brick red, evocative of a fair bit of maturity, and yet started tight as a drum, with youthful vigor and exceedingly crisp acid. Took about 30 minutes to start showing its range of tertiary characteristics, with a fragrant nose of dried red fruits, tobacco leaf, leather and forest flore, and a very slight minty cool top note. The palate screams Chinon, with its high acid, tart red fruits and some blood orange rind. Needed about a full hour for the acids to tone down, and while the wine never rounded out, it was appealing for its refreshing sense on the palate. Paired wonderfully with a starter course of steak tartare. Saved 1/3 of the bottle for the close of the evening, and its age started to show, fading some with an entry of a sherry note. Past prime but still a very nice drink for now. I would not hold these any longer if you have any. (92 pts.)

I have very little experience with this Fourth Growth, and most have been younger bottles from 2000, 2005 and 2009. All quite enjoyable but getting way too pricey compared to its peer group. I noticed Leve’s site suggests approaching older vintages with caution, but he does not say why. I thought this wine was quite appealing, but it’s the only Duhart that I have had with more than 15 years of age. So what’s the deal, if any, with prior vintages of this estate?

It was a mistake to open the 2005 Chateau Pontet-Canet, and even worse to drink with only 30 minutes in a decanter, but I did not bring this wine and certainly will not pass up a try. Not in a good place, angry about being opened, hard to read at this stage, really. Clearly has all the right stuffing, structure for the long haul and likely something quite nice comes out of this, but hold another 7-10 years. Right now it’s a big wallop of smoke, dark fruits, cassis, tannins, oak and a little gloss. Never really showed much more over the next hour. Just not enjoyable right now. (NR)

Nice notes–very interesting!

Duhart wasn’t much good until the 03 vintage (which I haven’t tried yet). The 80s and 90s were all workmanlike but less good than Les Carruades, which cost around the same at the time. Then the investment started, quality rose and the Chinese noticed that the label looked like Lafite, whereupon I sold all of mine for ridiculous prices. It would be interesting to try a recent vintage but the price is such that I can’t be bothered to!


Thanks for the notes.

We had the 2001 Duhart Milon at lunch yesterday with 5 other classified growths.
The Duhart was unanimously considered the best wine.

It was lovely: aromatic (cedar, earth, pencil shavings) and had a lovely long aftertaste. A real treat.

I have two bottles of the 05 Pontet Canet, so thanks for letting me know where it is at.

Alex R.

The 2005s are in no way ready to drink right now. They have so much stuffing that they sometimes fool people into thinking they are drinkable just on the fruit, but classed growth 2005 is nowhere near ready. They need at least five years, perhaps closer to ten.

Just really enjoyed a 2005 Tour St. Bonnet… but it didn’t really show well until Day 2 and even then it was on the younger, primary side of things. This isn’t a quick maturing wine as far as cru bourgeois go, but it still made me wonder when the 05s well ever be fully mature.

The 2005s are only 13 years old – most 2000s weren’t showing all that well at 13 years old either. But they’ve started to open up significantly in the last few years.

As Bordeaux moved toward extracting more fruit they also moved toward extracting more tannins, so those tannic vintages are going to take longer to show. I think 2010 is going to be in that line of tannic vintages that take a super long time to mature, one reason I sort of prefer 2009.

How long did it take the older “classical-style” vintages like 1989 to open up? Was 1989 drinking well in 2002?

I agree with Marcus. Most Classified Growths from such structured vintages like 2010, 2005, 1995, 1986 - I could highlight more but these are some of the best examples - really do need 20+ years to show. I put 2000 closer to 2009 in vintages where one could peek in earlier, but really, given the quality, you really should give them 15+. I think the 2000s are starting to drink beautifully, but I’m really not touching the big boys like Lynch Bages, Montrose, Pichons, etc.

This is precisely why, at age 52, I’m out of the new vintage game. The 2014 vintage was really the last big purchase of new releases by me, except for a few 2015s, most in 375 format.

The 2003 Duhart is a lovely wine. Thanks for the notes Robert. Despite the chinon reference, this sounds like a wine I would have enjoyed

We are hijacking this thread, but here goes:

From memory, some very good to excellent 1989 Bordeaux were drinking well by 2002/2003. I don’t mean just approachable, but actually showing nice secondary development:

The 89 Meyney had just started to blossom by late 2002 (I had a case to follow)
The 89 Cantemerle was singing (and continues to sing) by 2003
The 89 Chasse Spleen still had firm tannins, but it was showing well by 2003
The 89 Canon, Dominique and Grand Mayne were all lovely by 2003

And the 89 Tour St Bonnet was drinking well by 1995 as a direct comparison.

Some caveats: These wines may not have been at peak at age 13-14 (but they were close IMHO), they have held at this high level for over a decade, and the top 30+ wines were still striplings in 2003. That said, I think many wines from the 80’s (86 excepted) drank well much sooner than even ‘lowly’ 2005s do currently.

I remain a fan of the 05s, I just think they’ll take longer than what claret generally used to do, longer than the 86s even I’m guessing. What used to take 20 years could take 30 years (assuming modern wines developed aged complexity and silkiness like these wines used to).

With the caveat that you know I like my wines with some age, there are a good number of 1989s that will live for decades and are just getting to a place where I want to start trying them, particularly Graves. I have a bottle of Pape Clement in queue.

Back to 1979s, I was trying to convince Greg Kahn last week that there are a lot of excellent Bordeaux from his birth year, but he didn’t seem to believe me. :wink:. I always keep an eye out now for well stored 1979s.

In fairness, my contention was that there are good (or even very good) but not great bottles of 79 Bordeaux! I’ve had quite a few, and the Pichon Lalande is probably my favorite and I’ve had 3 or 4, but I wouldn’t call it a great wine.

My issue is that if I can pick up relatively similarly priced bottles of 85 or 86 or even 83, I’d rather go with those years.

The 79 du Tertre was quite good for a long while. Not had it in 5 years or so though.

I’m impressed with quite a few Bordeaux '79s, too. With those mentioned, I’ll add LMHB, LLC, Cheval Blanc, Haut Brion, Domaine de Chevalier and even Bouscaut. I haven’t canvassed lately, but these used to cost less than their 85/86/83 versions.

Ramon — Haut Bailly!

Lafleur Pétrus is also gorgeous.

This whole discussion is really helpful - I’ve been interested in some of the notes and other feedback suggesting incipient maturity among the 2005s, not least from an English friend who recently told me that a local MW recommended he hold his 05 Montrose for another 3 or 4 years. I told him that I thought there was a zero missing from each of those numbers.

I was tempted to start bringing in some 05s from storage this spring but held off and will continue to do so. I’m not surprised that Pontet Canet appears to be moving glacially and I expect the same is true for Montrose.

Thanks for the TN Robert.

If you and Jason are proposing to do a 79 horizontal offsite, sure, I’m in! [wink.gif]

Interested here, too. Don’t really know what I may have from '79, though.

I know I have at least one Pichon Lalande left, I’d have to check what else.

I buy them at auction on occasion and drink them. Nothing in cellar.