TN: 1980 Margaux - Stayin' Alive

Thought this might be a good choice for my first WB Tasting Note:
1980 Chateau Margaux
We finished off a long day of celebrating my neighbors 37th birthday by raiding my cellar late in the evening on Saturday. I started pulling out some old Bordeaux bottles that I had acquired from a collection last year. The cellar contained a lot of off-vintages in rough shape and I split it with a colleague for virtually nothing and honestly we didn’t really expecting anything to be great. I completely forgot that I had this 1980 Margaux mixed in with those. I actually looked for anything 1980 earlier in the week in our retail inventory, but being such a so-so vintage globally, I came up empty. So needless to say we were stoked to discover this dirty old birthday bottle.

The cork had some minor signs of old seepage, but the ullage was around top shoulder, so not terrible for it’s age. I almost got the cork out but it snapped very close to the bottom. (I really need to invest in an ah-so). We quickly poured the wine through a strainer and into a decanter. I was fully expecting the bottle to be completely shot, but the color still had some nice rose tones with bricking around the edge. The nose was actually quite pleasant. A classic older Margaux with a touch of extra funk from the age. I was worried that the promising nose was just setting us up for a let down, but the wine was actually still alive across the palate. It was fairly thin, but still some contained bright red fruit and also a bit of black currant, tobacco, some pencil shavings and earthy forest floor/barnyard notes. The finish obviously was pretty minimal, but the wine was quite enjoyable overall, especially considering we expected it to be DOA. A really great birthday surprise. If I had to score it, I would say it was probably around 87-89.

Great note and pics.
Margaux gave Me a similar nice experience with the 1984, some years ago. [cheers.gif]
Thanks for posting.


Awesome note! Birth year for me as well, so always love hearing about bottles from 1980.

Thanks for posting!

80 Certan de May was pretty great (a while ago) if you can find any.

Hi Ross,

Very happy to hear that the 1980 Margaux was still drinking well. In its early days, it was always one of the very finest of the 1980s ad in its youth was really quite an accomplishment for the vintage. Others 1980s that were surprisingly good in the early days were Talbot and Pichon-Lalande- both of which I drank quite a bit of in my college days, with Talbot particularly attractive at $10 a bottle. I probably drank about three cases of it during my junior and senior years, as it was always available and was really just a lovely bottle at that time, as it was ready to drink right out of the blocks and was the perfect claret to let the 1982s and 1983s rest in the cellar.

All the Best,


I can report that the 1980 Pichon Lalande is still going strong. Had it double blind in 2016 (for a friend’s bday party who was born in 1980) and I was very impressed.