Lynch Bages vertical (83, 85, 86, 88, 89, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97)


A large group of us gathered at RPM Steak to taste through a large vertical of Lynch Bages – one of my own personal favourite Bordeaux estates. The wines were double-decanted approximately 2-3 hours before service, and largely showed surprisingly young. There were very few signs of even secondary characteristics. The 1985 and 1989 were my two wines of the night, with the 1985 showing heaps of green and herbaceous character, while the 1989 was a real powerhouse of a wine. Many thanks to RPM Steak for the amazing service and allowing us to enjoy the wines with their excellent steaks (though I maintain that their coal-roasted king crab is the best thing on the menu).

  • 2014 Château Lynch-Bages Blanc de Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux
    The nose is quite fresh, and there’s just a little bit of primary grapeyness to it. The palate and nose feature nice fresh green herbs, gooseberries, and a fair bit of grassiness as well. Very good acidity, with just a slight touch of sweetness as well. Do I detect a smidgen of botrytis that gives this a little bit more complexity? (90 pts.)
  • 1983 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    The nose wasn’t the most open, but there was still plenty of stuffing. There’s a restrained touch of green pepper on the nose, and lovely graphite. The secondary characteristics aren’t too prominent right now, we were joking that this had almost been cryogenically stored. Soft and restrained, with lovely acidity. The palate has a touch of sweet red fruit, but this isn’t all that dense. In a lovely spot now. (93 pts.)
  • 1985 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Probably my wine of the night. This had the most explosive nose of green peppers. If you’re not keen on that, this would obviously not be your kind of wine. Graphite, pencil shavings, and just a touch of secondary character. The palate is quite stemmy as well, though it’s perfumed just the same, with lovely acidity and soft tannins. Another bottle in the prime of its drinking window. (95 pts.)
  • 1986 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    This bottle probably showed the most funkiness and barnyard of the wines tonight, though there really wasn’t that much there to begin with. The nose has a lot of juicy red fruit, and just a hint of that leather. On the palate though, I was surprised by how much fruit there was here. But that seems to be just about it – from the midpalate on, there isn’t too much, and this ends quite curtly. (90 pts.)
  • 1988 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    The nose here is very well balanced, between the lead pencil shavings, sweet fruit, and just a bit of green. The acids are quite high here, and there are some clear secondary notes (one of the few wines of the evening to have them). The palate’s also got a lot more earthiness here, which makes this standout a little bit in the context of the other wines tonight. Plenty of acid gives this a good lift as well. (93 pts.)
  • 1989 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Along with the 1985, this would be my wine of the night. The nose is a touch muted, but shows a herbal/eucalyptus quality backed by a massive wall of sweet black fruit. The palate blows you away with incredible power. Lots of fruit. The acidity just manages to balance this behemoth out. The punch that this packs is just amazing, and although this is accessible and delicious now, I bet that this will only get better with time, especially when it starts picking up a few secondary characteristics. (95 pts.)
  • 1993 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Lots of graphite and a little bit of green on the nose, this had gorgeous aromatics that really reeled you in. But the palate’s quite disappointing, alas. Some black cherry is pretty much all you get. The rest of the stuff just doesn’t seem to be there at all. But the aromatics on the nose do redeem a lot about this wine. At best luncheon claret, this is probably one to consume sooner rather than later. (90 pts.)
  • 1994 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    On the heels of one tough vintage (1993) is this one. There’s a lovely perfumed red fruit and very light quality about the nose, but the palate is thin, mean, and green. Even less stuffing than the 1993, and although there’s a pretty little bit of not-quite-ripe red fruit, this is all-in-all a relatively unconvincing bottle of Lynch. (88 pts.)
  • 1995 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    The nose on this was quite muted, though I picked up a bit of earth and black currant. The palate is soft and supple, with well-integrated tannins. There’s something rather light about this wine, but that’s not to say it isn’t substantial. There’s fruit that’s just a bit on the edge of sweet, and then some racy acids to give this wine some drive. Perhaps the most complete of the 95-96-97 trio. (93 pts.)
  • 1996 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Incredibly dense. Ripe black fruit, with screaming acids. The question, as with a lot of wines from 1996 (including red Burgundy) is whether the fruit will outlive the intense acidity and massive structure. But for now, all I can see is an awesome bottle of Bordeaux with lots of acid and still plenty of red fruit, so no complaints in that department. The high acidity does cause a bit of tartness to the wine, and it does end a little short. But for what there is now, this is eminently enjoyable. (93 pts.)
  • 1997 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    So I realize that in the context, the score I’m putting on this bottle might seem a little high. But there’s something about this bottle that is just absolutely singing right now. It’s probably the least acidic of all the wines here tonight, and the fruit shows a bit nondescript and confected, but this is just in a phenomenally good place right now, and perhaps coming off of the super-acidic 1996 made this seem a lot better than it actually was. Silky smooth, this is about as “hedonistic” in the Parker sense that I’m willing to go. In any case, a few of us kept talking about luncheon claret at dinner, and this bottle would definitely be a great example of it. (93 pts.)
  • 1999 Château Lynch-Bages - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac
    Corked. NR (flawed)
  • 1955 Château Suduiraut Ancien cru du Roy - France, Bordeaux, Sauternais, Sauternes
    Could it be? The first Suduiraut that is actually convincing? Well, this one certainly is. Marmalade, orange peel, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, caramel, the aroma elements here are precisely defined and identifiable, and immensely alluring. The palate is showing lovely aged Sauternes quality – the same orange marmalade, caramel, and brown spice in a kaleidoscopic array. Great acidity to balance out the sweetness, and despite what must have once been a blowsy wine, this has certainly calmed down to a state of refinement. An incredible wine. (95 pts.)

Very nice.

Interesting… The proof is always in the bottle(s)
Muchos thanks for sharing.

Great event and great notes, Adrian. The '89 Lynch was the first Bordeaux that spoke to me (years ago, and has always seemed a bit muted since then, perhaps the retrospectoscope in action) and because of that wine, I’ve drunk more LB than any other Bdx. Specific comments to the vintages you drank: the '83 is delicious, perhaps not as youthful as your bottle with notable sweetness in the bottles I’ve drunk. The tannins are present but not in a youthful way. I’ve not experienced the greeness in the '85 and find it more round and almost right bank chocolate-y then most '85 Pauillacs. The '96 I think will eventually be up to the '89 but needs more time. The most serious of the 1990s (perhaps with the '90 as an exception), it is a true vin de garde. I’ve had many good half bottles of the '99–not a blockbuster but pleasing mid week. I don’t see many notes on the '97, but have fond memories of it as it was he vintage poured for me when I visitied the chateau in 2004. Delicious then, I can imagine it is still giving–certainly an unheralded vintage–'97 Mouton can also be quite nice now. I’m encouraged by your notes and have plans to open the '55, '57, '61 and a host of later vintages soon.

One of the most consistent and delicious Left Bank Bordeauxs made. Fabulous stuff. The 89 has always been a personal favorite of mine.

Over the past week we’ve had the 85, 86, and 96 and they were all superb. The 85 is one of my all time favorite Bordeaux alongside 82 Lalande. You really have to like the production levels of Bordeaux that allow for so much backfilling!

An amazing tasting, Adrian. Thanks for sharing. That '89 has always been a killer wine for me, one of the first Bordeaux I tried on this long and many year path toward Bordeaux appreciation. Even in its youth it was impressive. I would have expected the '86 to show better. Interesting comments about the '97.

Thanks for the notes. I think I have one orphan 85 LB left.



The 1986 was atypical of the vintage – it didn’t have a huge amount of grip or concentration, and it drank well relatively early. Bottles I opened in 2001, 2002 and 2004 were quite drinkable. The tannins seemed very soft on the first two bottles, I remember. So I’m not surprised if this seemed a bit faded now. I pulled my last bottle out of storage last weekend. Sounds like I should drink it up.

Great notes.

I was a little surprised you found the 95, 96 and 97 comparable. I have found the 96 best, 95 very good and the 97 ok but a little thin in past tastings. Will have to pop a 97 to see if it has evolved since my last tasting. Cheers

Great tasting Adrian, thanks for sharing the notes. Bummer that you didn’t have a '90 though. It’s the LB I have the most experience with (of this era) and it is a remarkably consistent strong performer. I’d have been very curious to see how your group would have compared it to the '85 and '89.

In a tasting I did a few years back of the '89 and '90 I found them to be strikingly different. The '89 had more bite, fruit, edge and acidity. The '90 was just rich, soft & supple with more developed secondary leather/pencil shavings characteristics on the nose and palate. I refused to pick a “better” wine on that night.

I had the 97 as a pleasant surprise but definitely a tier below the 95 and 96. It was most certainly a lighter weight wine, but nicely styled.


I don’t think there’s any rush to drink up. The 1986 really didn’t show signs of maturity. That said, at least on the form of this bottle (which seemed in great condition) it doesn’t seem to be a great LB.