TN: 1983 Margaux and Palmer

Been fortunate to have two pristine bottles of the '83 Margaux (one just a month ago), and both wines were truly exceptional, among the best mature Bordeaux experiences I’ve had. I’ve had the '90 once (from great storage/provenance as well), but was rather disappointed by it and definitely prefer the '83. But seems like I got lucky with the '83, given how many mentions there are of serious bottle variation.

Where did the bottles come from, Dan?

The Margaux from Berserkers’ own Commerce Corner; the Palmer from Winebid.

I know both wines rather wel, as I bought them “en primeur” and they never left my cellar since.
Both wines are always a party, but never ever scored the Palmer above the Margaux!
Nice to follow the evaluation over the years.

dude takes every opportunity to pan all things French… rolleyes

I’m guessing the failure rate for 30 year old California cabernets purchased 3rd or 4th hand is high, too. Early 80’s Bordeaux can be additionally problematic because at the time they were released, a bunch of grey market importers popped up to take advantage of the dollar/franc arbitrage and resulting demand. Too many of them shipped without regard to weather and without refrigeration.

I’ve only had each once, but the Palmer crushed the Margaux. It may also have helped that the Palmer was from magnum.

Speaking for a group of younger guys who have to source our wines almost entirely 3rd or 4th hand, our CA success rate from 81-84 is, or at least feels, substantially better than from Bdx. I have to think importers were a problem in that era.

No, I don’t think it was necessarily the importers, but the hit and miss storage after the wine arrived. Few people owned wine cellars, little commercial storage for private consumers. When the wines were stored properly, you can have something incredible; I keep rabbiting on about some extraordinary 1982 Poujeaux from a cool damp cellar. Yesterday had a 1994 Haut Bages Liberal from the same source and the wine was showing all the tightness of youth.

It’s strange to hear how the California wines are outlasting Bordeaux. There are major exceptions particularly pre 1985, but my money is still on well stored Bordeaux.