1998 First Growth Horizontal, with some extras

At the Westchester Wine Collector Annual Dinner. We had a 1998 Bordeaux First Growth almost complete horizontal.

Haut Brion: Showed best at first. Outstanding but surpassed after 30 minutes, in my opinion, by the Latour with some air. This was textbook Bordeaux. Full bodied with lots of flavor. Dark berries, tobacco and a little bit of saddle leather.
Latour: Restrained but after 30-60 minutes of air, it opened up with more fruit and it fleshed out.
Lafite: not as flavorful and expressive as the first two. Perhaps a bit more elegant but with less that this Cali Cab lover prefers.
Margaux: BAND-AID. Lots of bandaid. Clearly outclassed by the other three. We had a boatload of other great wine, so two or three sips was all I needed to know that this was an easy pass.

Mouton: We did not have this because I was outbid at auction. I had this in 2006 or 2007 and it confirmed then that Mouton is my favorite of the first growths. However, that was then and this was now.

The other wines included:

1995 Smith Haut Lafite Blanc that I have owned for about 20 years, and that was OUTSTANDING. My best white Bordeaux ever.

2000 Cheval Blanc. My palate was probably dead at this point so I did not appreciate what was probably a great wine.

1947 C. Climens. Whoa! This was great. If it wasn’t for the rule that you are not supposed to vote for a sweet wine as the WOTN, this was the winner. Acid, caramel, honey, botrytis (I am not in the “botrytis has no flavor” camp), some sweet lemon curd.

More notes later.


We did a little 98 horizontal in Charleston last year and imo the VCC was the standout, probably even enough fruit to be in jay’s wheelhouse.

I love the vintage- maybe more on the right than left. Figeac was better than Mouton within the past year and Angelus, Tertre Rotebeouf are incredible. Las Cases, PLL, Ducru and Montrose are all pretty stalwart, if not as mind blowing as their right bank counterparts. I have Palmer and Conseillante on deck

Thanks for the notes Jay. 98 Figeac and Palmer are great wines. I hear VCC and Cheval are as well.

The 98 VCC is exceptional. As is Trotanoy, Petrus, L’Evangile. And Magdelaine. I think right bank slays, and Pomerol is about as good as I can imagine any appellation in any vintage being.

We lay folk can’t ball out for the Petrus :smirk:

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I had hopes for you, Faryan!


Agreed. I had two bottles — one was a little off, the other was wow: a beautiful combination of gentlemanly refinement and raw fruit and tannin power. At its best, it’s fricken unreal.

Although I think there were a few fine wines from the Left Bank in 1998, I consider the wine from the Right Bank to be the best vintage since 1982, And quite possibly it will surpass even that. I am hard-pressed to find anything less than excellent, and the highs from the vintage are truly sublime.

The wine that I find most exciting is Trotanoy, which seems to me the very essence of the terroir. Cheval is also brilliant, as is Figeac, VCC, and of course, Magdelaine. The surprise is Pavie, The last vintage before Michele Rolland arrived at the Château. It is fully mature, but has plateaued for a while, and is still a delightful wine.


Have opened a few '98s - largely left bank - as it’s a birth year vintage for me. Palmer and La Mission Haut Brion the standouts (having also tried Chevalier, Montrose, Leoville Barton, Langoa Barton, Calon Segur and Cos). As far as the right bank goes, agree with what everyone above has said. Absolutely loved the Troplong-Mondot and Clos l’Eglise I had from the vintage, still so much life ahead for them as well.

Man, perfect timing. I just flew back to DFW from Bordeaux today after having the 1998 Trotanoy at Restaurant Lalique in Sauternes last night. What a wine and what a great place to have it!

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