TN: Right Bank vs Left Bank Bordeaux Through the Decades


Another gathering our our CLT Tasting group at The Fig Tree turned in another stellar night of nicely aged Bordeaux. We had a mix of one Right Bank wine in each flight which were well-served compliments to the bolder Left bank wines that dominate so much of our discussions, cellars, and palates. Some big take-aways were that the Right Bank wines held up wonderfully against their Left bank counterparts and these expertly crafted wines drank magnificently this evening yet have plenty of life still in them.

Children of the 80s

This was a tale of 2 wines as the delightfully complementary start with the Canon and Gruaud set the tone for the evening as we weaved back-and-forth between the Banks.

  • 1985 Château Canon - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Slo-ox for 90 minutes prior to serving. Aromatic nose of rustic strawberries. Soft and fully resolved tannins on the palate – velvet mouthfeel. Delicious red fruits, richly aged cherries. A tasty, elegant and gentle wine. Savory finish. This is a wine to be consumed in more isolation to really enjoy the many nuances. Stellar showing.
  • 1986 Château Gruaud Larose - France, Bordeaux, MĂ©doc, St. Julien
    6am decant for 45 minutes, back in the bottle, recorked, and placed in the refrigerator until dinner at 6:30pm. Slo-ox until served at 7pm.
    Rich structure on the nose – powerful but measured.Delightful barnyard and cedar aromas. The structure was confirmed on the palate with gentle grippiness from not-yet fully resolved tannins. Great mouthfeel. Dark cherry flavors with rustic blackberry notes. Plenty of primary flavors remain while the secondary notes of tobacco begin to show. Drinking wonderfully tonight with decades of life in this bottle. Finished a very close 2nd in WIne of the Night (WOTN) voting. One vote for WOTN.
  • 1995 Château Ducru-Beaucaillou - France, Bordeaux, MĂ©doc, St. Julien
    Double decant 2 hours prior to dinner and recorked; slo-ox for 30 minutes before serving. Intense barnyard on the nose but somewhat shut down. Full-flavored on the palate rich dark fruits enveloping your mouth – a big and delicious wine. Still a bit tight but flavorful. While still excellent, this wine lacked the finesse we saw in the other bottles in this flight. Medium + finish.

In the Zone

1996 Left Bank and 1998 Right Bank are drinking deliciously right now and tonight was no exception. From a comparative aging standpoint these drank like they were 20+ years younger then the 85 and 86 from the prior flight.

  • 1996 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande - France, Bordeaux, MĂ©doc, Pauillac
    2 hours full decant, back in the bottle for transporting to dinner and then slo-ox for 90 minutes prior to consumption. Aromatic and young nose – cedar, forest floor, hints of cigar box. Rich on the palate with balanced notes of blackberry, bramble; tannins well-integrated but present giving great body to this wine. Long finish of plum and blackcurrant. Drank wonderfully when served but reached glorious heights 90 minutes later. Give this wine plenty of time and you will be handsomely rewarded. WOTN, 4 votes for 1st place
  • 1998 Château Pavie Decesse - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru
    Decant for one hour, then back in the bottle to slo ox for 2 hours, then in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Gentle nose of strawberry and rustic cherry. Elegant mouthfeel, soft tannins, dark raspberry notes balanced against a hint of tobacco. Wonderful finesse on this wine and drinks bigger than I would have expected,. Tasty and long finish.
  • 2009 Château Batailley - France, Bordeaux, MĂ©doc, Pauillac
    (Served Blind) Decanted 24 hours in advance for 30 minutes before back in the bottle and recorked, placed in the refrigerator and removed 2 hours prior to serving. On the nose rich aromas of dark fruits sang brightly. Smooth mouthfeel and tasty wine of cassis and blackberry if a bit simple. THe bright flavors clearly displayed its more youthful profile, A fine wine but lacking finesse and complexity found in the other wines. This was a blind to test the aging potential of micro-oxing wines. While the wine drank well, it was clearly as much as 10 years younger than the other wines in the flight.

22 Year Old babies

It's heard to believe these wines are still only now beginning to enter their drinking window ... very slowly. From a comparative aging standpoint these drank like they were 10 years young then the 96 and 98 from the prior flight.

  • 2000 Château Pontet-Canet - France, Bordeaux, MĂ©doc, Pauillac
    Opened at 8am, slo-ox for 30 minutes, then recorked until 6pm, double-decanted off the sediment and slo-ox until serving at 8:30pm
    Slightly bretty nose but aromas of strawberries and raspberries prominent. Nice complexity on the palate with firm tannins balanced against the red and black currant flavors. Still quite primary, this wine is only beginning to enter its prime drinking window. Decades of life ahead of it.
  • 2000 Clos l'Église (Pomerol) - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Opened at 8am, slo-ox for 30 minutes, then recorked until 6pm, double-decanted off the sediment and slo-ox until serving at 8:30pm.
    Most complex nose of the flight – floral and rustic. Plush on the mouthfeel with a balanced profile of red raspberries and barnyard notes. An extremely elegant wine with plenty of flavor. Long finish. Stood up nicely between the two big Cabernet wines in the flight. One vote for WOTN.
  • 2000 Château Montrose - France, Bordeaux, MĂ©doc, St. Estèphe
    Decant at 4pm, back in the bottle at 5:45pm and recorked until 6:30pm, then slo-ox until serving at 8:30pm. Dark color – looks like a recent release Napa Cabernet. Much richer and deeper profile on the nose and palate than the other wines in this flight. Nose was a bit tight and intense. On the palate, the high quality fruits shine brightly – black currants, plums, dark fruits. Long savory finish. A standout wine in a strong line-up. Stellar tonight and only greater things ahead for this beauty. Finished 3rd in Wine of the Night voting. 2 votes for WOTN.

Wine of the Night voting was fittingly spread across seven different wines. The two real stand-outs even among this wonderfully performing line-up were the 1996 Pichon Lalande and the 1986 Gruaud Larose. In third place was the Chateau Montrose with the Clos L'Eglise trailing closely behind. One final take-away was the non-linear aging of the wine flights -- it was staggering how little age showed on the 90s and 2000s wines relative to the 80s wines. All drank wonderfully so find the profile that suits you and drink up!

Posted from CellarTracker



Great notes, Kevin. Looks like a wonderful tasting. We have a few of the wines that were in the tasting and appreciate your impressions. Totally agree on the 1995 Ducru and 1996 Pichon. I like the 1995 Ducru, but not as much as the 1996. And the 1996 Pichon is superb.
Lastly, the picture of the pooch sitting down guarding the bottles is awesome!


Interesting tasting and great notes.

I do like the 1996 Lalande, but I have found it a much bigger fruitier wine than normal.

Great set of wines, my sort of tasting. Lots of my favorites listed - especially the 86 Gruaud and 96 PLL - but the real under-the-radar gem is that 85 Canon, which I really like as well and have been able to pick up inexpensively via auction repeatedly over the years.

Interesting on how much you liked the 00 Montrose – for some reason, I have purchased very little Montrose through the years but now I want some of the 2000! (too bad the pricing is nuts).