1998 Château Haut-Brion- France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan (5/1/2021)
Decanted 4 hours before dinner. 2nd time I have had this wine. Compared to a 1998 Mouton Rothschild and 1998 Mayacamas. Garnet color. An earthy wine with underbrush aromas. Notes of pencil shavings, plum and tobacco. Velvety texture with silky tannins and a long smooth finish. Excellent but I thought the Mouton was drinking slightly better at present. 96 points.
I had 2 '98 Haut Brion’s also and opened one last year. It was spectacular. No hurry to open one at all, years and years to go. It leaned more to the young side than to the mature side-but it was very enjoyable that day.
I’ve had the 90 and 98 Haut Brion quite a few times over the years, and for my taste, the 1990 has been superior, at every step of the evolutionary curve. That said, I think the 98 is slower maturing, and will be a better wine at 35 years of age than the 90. Great problem to have, trying to pick a favorite
To me, the 1990 lacks a bit of concentration and depth to be considered truly great. As the ripe vintage puppy fat fades, that becomes more apparent, and I found it more impressive at age 25 than age 30. The fruit tones are also a touch roasted in profile when compared to the 1989 or 1998. Of course, that observation could be generalized to quite a few 1990s.
I post here only rarely, so not many of you will know me.
I made a very pleasant discovery on the weekend and decided celebrate it with a bottle of '98 Haut-Brion. I had the bottle over two nights, and stored it in the fridge in between, which I do with most reds (giving it three hours to warm up to cellar temperature the next day). My notes for the first night: Dark garnet with minor bricking. Cassis, yes, but still lots of primary cherry on the nose, which surprised me. First impression: the fruit has almost a sweet nose. Smoky notes, some pencil shavings, earthiness, maybe even a touch of fresh crab or lobster shell immediately after opening that disappears after an hour (is this what some call iodine?). Herbaceousness noticeable only after an hour. I found undergrowth subordinate to the other aromas. Smoky notes more apparent after an hour. Acidity is perfect to my liking. I found the tannins still not quite resolved - they are still abundant and I certainly wouldn’t call them silky. The earlier mentioned sweetness on the nose must have been a fancy of mine: there is no sweetness to the finish. Next day: same fruit balance, same smoke, more pencil lead, less herbaceousness; no more crab/lobster/iodine. Noticed violets that I missed the previous night. Overall impression: the wine is great, but seems quite young. For my tastes, I wish I’d waited 10 more years … but I needed to celebrate, and only a great Bordeaux would do.