POLL: Top vintage for red Bordeaux 1980 - 1999

Top vintage for red Bordeaux 1980 - 1999

  • 1980
  • 1981
  • 1982
  • 1983
  • 1984
  • 1985
  • 1986
  • 1987
  • 1988
  • 1989
  • 1990
  • 1991
  • 1992
  • 1993
  • 1994
  • 1995
  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998
  • 1999

0 voters

To follow up on Howard’s poll, I’m curious as to what others consider the best vintage for red Bordeaux from 1980 - 1999. Most of these vintages are approaching maturity, so there’s less “projection” required than for more recent years.

My pick would be 1990; I’ve had more profoundly great wines from this vintage than any other. Remarkably consistent as well. If I had two votes, which I don’t, I’d go with 1990 and 1982.

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This will be a crap shoot between 82, 89, and 90. Honorable mention to 86. I’m feeling 82.

The high votes for 1990 here speak well of 2009, which I think of as a modern day 1990. It is certainly the most 1990-ish vintage of the 21st century.

I had a very hard time choosing between 1982, 1989, and 1990 (and 1996 if I limit it to the Left Bank). I ended choosing 1990, but it was by an incredibly narrow margin over 1989.

The highs of 1982 are extraordinary, but I give the edge to 1989 and 1990 because there are several top chateaux that I think were making better wine by the end of the decade than were in 1982, such as Pichon Baron, Montrose, and Leoville-Poyferre. I’ve also had more excellent inexpensive 1989s and 1990s than 1982s.

The choice between 1989 and 1989 is much harder. Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Lafite, Margaux, and Latour were much stronger in 1990, Haut Brion and La Mission HB were better in 1989 but the 1990s were still outstanding, and Mouton wasn’t even close to First Growth quality in either vintage so the First Growth edge goes to 1990.

Looking a notch below, I prefer 1989 Montrose, Palmer, and Pichon Lalande to their 1990 versions. On the other hand, I give the edge to all three Leovilles in 1990, along with Certan de May, L’Evangile, Gruaud, Ducru, Pape Clement, and Beausejour-Duffeau. Lynch Bages, Rausan-Segla, and Pichon Baron are toss ups, as are Angelus, Clinet, Fleur de Gay, and La Conseillante. Moving down the ladder a little more, I prefer 1989 Clerc Milon and Meyney, but 1990 Lagrange and GPL. La Dominique is a toss up. Finally, I’ve had more random inexpensive 1990s turn out to surprisingly lovely than 1989s, so that pushes 1990 to the win.

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Had to vote 1989 as I have very little experience with 1982, and i prefer the structure in 1989 vs. 1990.

To me, 2009 is 1990 on steroids, and not in a good way. That said, I would put 1982 first, 1989 second and 1996 third (at least for the left bank). I have not seen as much complexity as I would have hoped for so far from 1990s.

I would vote 1998 right bank, given the option.

I voted 1982 but I think you changed my mind…


I chose 82 but really hard to pick between 82 and 90 for me.

Either ‘82 or ‘89 and I picked ‘89.


'82 probably in an apples-to-apples comparison but for current drinking I am finding many of the '82s tired and would easily select the '89 if offered.

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89 edges 82 today and will do in years to come.
More and more 82s going downhill for some years now already. This may not be true for some exceptional top wines that will outlive us but is fact for many middle range classified and unclassified wines i know.
No regrets, just life.

Mike lays it out so Perfectly. Well, with the odd typo :slight_smile:.

But even as an 1982 Kid, I see the '89/'90 strength. I am rather fond of the ever improving '86 vintage for its underrated majesty, but it’s outside the Pinnacle Three.

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1982 Trotanoy 10 years ago was a real stunner. The one we shared last year in the garden was definitely past peak.

Fond Memories of the Garden!

I think you’re right, of course; the softer, fleshier wines are probably past their bouncy apex. That said… I do wonder about whether a longer decant might have released a bit more warmth from the wine and maybe bring it closer to that stunner phase. Hard to say.

Speaking of stunners, hope the Maisie Pup is wearing down Turk’s indignation :wink:

1982 Left Bank, 1998 Right Bank…People poo poo the 1982, but imo they are just wrong :slight_smile:

I do not disagree with what you are saying, but to me this raises a fascinating question. The 1982s provided really wonderful drinking for 30-35 years and some still do. How long is enough? Do we judge vintages by how long they last or by the quality of the wines at peak drinking?

I hope you’re right. I was blown away by several 1990’s before they were 15 years of age (Haut Brion, Margaux, L’evangile, Montrose, Conseillante, GPL, Lynch Bages, LLC et al) but I’ve not had a similar experience with any 2009’s yet. I know it’s a little early to be comparing the 2009 today vs 1990 back in the 2005 timeframe, but for me the early results for 2009 has me thinking they will take a bit longer than the 1990’s to reach similar heights.

Mark -

In 1998 right bank, I have Magdelaine, Trotanoy, Petrus, VCC and l’Evangile. What else should I seek? This is a vintage that I missed, new baby, new business, wife no longer working, and all that back then. I was poor.