Yup, 1980s Bordeaux Best Decade Ever!

Ok, this was a tiny little sampling, but every time I pop a pristine bottle of Bordeaux from this glorious era, I swoon. Tonight was no exception. And this night was basically pop and pour with crappy stems, and they still shined.

We started with the 1982 Chateau Magdelaine. The classic tell-tale notes of this estate, citrusy reds, dry earthy ground cover with a minty note. Always shows so cool climate to me. A little tart while it opened, but over the evening it fleshed out to reveal some lovely plummy darker tones. This wine is at peak but in no way turning south. Tertiary elements in full display, tannins fully resolved. (94 pts).

The 1986 Leoville Las Cases that followed is primordial. Wafts of cassis, dark maduro tobacco, dank earth, leather and some iron notes. Big mouthful, a very textural, meaty wine. Pretty much all dark fruit tones. Leather and saline notes. This is an inelegant, old school, I am who I am kind of wine. Like the bully big brother of Leoville Barton. Tannins still omnipresent. This wine has some runway to grow with all the stuffing to perhaps even improve a bit more. (97 pts.)

Side note, this wine really is just a notch behind the classic 1982 LLC, another primordial beast. Psyched that last week I picked up 3 bottles of very pristine 1989. I need more LLC.

And for dessert, the 1985 Chateau Trotanoy. We definitely staged these wines correctly. Magdelaine during appetizers, LLC during entrees, where I had braised short ribs, and this for dessert. We actually skipped the dessert course and this was all we needed. So Pomerol, so Trotanoy, with that hedonistic bent of pungent truffles, Indian spices, rich wet soil tones, ripe tobacco and big ripe black fruits. Some dusty dark chocolate powder. Tannins gone but is firmly supported by nice red fruit acid for structure. This was the best showing of this 1985 that I’ve had of three bottles I bought at auction 2 years ago, but it is really at end of peak. An elegant aging beauty. Drink up and enjoy now! (95 pts.)

Haha, my wife Chris unwittingly photobombing the wine pics! She’d kill me for posting these . . . .



On Feb. 10, I promised some very good friends that I will be opening the 1982 and 1986 LLC. However, your notes are making me wonder if I should hold the '86 for a bit longer. In any case, yours was a night to remember and I hope mine will be, too! Cheers.

What a night! The 82 Magdelaine is an all-time great in my household.

I’m glad you enjoyed the LLC so much, I haven’t had the 86 in ages but I always wondered if it would ever show any charm.

And because of that, I would say the exact opposite of me, although I am a bit Neanderthal as well. This one checked a lot of boxes for me.

Nice work my man! Heck of a lineup!! I really enjoyed the 88 LLC the other night and that 86 sounds killer!!

Now the real question - Did your wife actually drink the Bordeaux with you??

Oh, and 2nd question. How many glasses did you break, :wink:

Your best notes yet, bravo!

I don’t think even HE can break those industrial Libbey stems


My lovely bride was drinking the November 15, 2023 vintage of Squealing Pig, New Zealand, Sauvignon blog, and she was as happy as a suckling piglet. It was only me and the other couple that drank red.

And Todd hits the nail on the head, that is a perfect stem for elote athletes that don’t know their own strength!

lol. “Blog”. That’s a great Siri dictation typo.

Also you


Eloté :corn:


Great notes.

From my experience I couldn’t agree more in the 80s being the best decade ever for Bordeaux.

90s - present - identity crisis
70s too many thin, weedy, lots of bad vintages, many bottles musty, high proportion of cork taint
I’ve had some great 50s and 60s, but not enough to feel strongly, and certain you’re running higher risks of flaws at that age

The 80s have been in the zone for a while now and continue to drink really well. And what a great run of vintages…

89 amazing all time great
82 not far behind
86 while tannic and youthful many wines are great
83, 85, 88 super classic styled, mostly delicious wines
81 sneakily great in pomerol
80 haven’t had enough
84 and 87 are the only poor years


Three really good wines by the sound of it. Thnx for he notes. These are wines I also happen to have so extra interest for me.

The 82 Magdelaine is a wonderful wine at 42 years old.

Plan to drink my 86 LLC in 2026 at 40 years with 86 Mouton and 86 Grange.

Sounds like a need to drink my solo bottle of the 85 Trotanoy soon!

The 20s and 40s are at the door wondering why you’re giving the youngsters all the credit ;-(

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I love 80s Bordeaux. And this will come as a surprise, I don’t even think it was the best decade of the last century. In the 80s, you have 82, 85 and 89. That’s 3 out of 10.

If I had to pick one decade, it might be the 2010s, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19. That’s 6 out of 10.

For me what’s makes 80’s Bordeaux so special is the style of the wines. There was some very favorable weather in the 80’s to be sure, but more importantly wine makers hadn’t really gone far down the accursed path of modernity and Parkerization wasn’t even a thing for another decade or more. As far as wine making styles, I include 1990 in this era.

And the wines have aged splendidly, not only holding, but developing unrivaled complexity, depth and nuance that Bordeaux post-1990 has still yet to prove (for me) it can do at anywhere near the same level. 1998 RB is probably the most promising vintage since the 80’s for greatness but even there the jury is still out as those still need time.

Given this context, I am a big, big fan of the 83 vintage (placing it close behind 82, 85 and 89) and I like many 86s and 88s far more than any vintage I can point to since. So by my count, there are 6 excellent or better vintages of that era (82, 83, 85, 86, 88, 89, 90) when chateau after chateau made special wines, year after year, with a magic that may have come and gone for good, leaving us only these bottled time capsules of liquid nostalgia for the glories of yesteryear.


Not a surprise at all. And on paper, it is obvious you would say that. And it’s actually hard to argue against what you are saying, technically and mathematically, but I look at things more spiritually and stylistically. I am 100% in accord with what my buddy Pat Martin says in response. And that is no criticism of your view at all, despite perceptions, the intersection of the Venn diagram between the two of us is actually quite large. I also own more wines from some of the vintages you mentioned, then from the prior ones. I have a ton of 2014 and 2016. Of course I do not like your ripe vintages, like 2009, 2015 and 2018.

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I couldn’t agree more. The 80s (including 90) was the last decade when I don’t think anyone really disagreed about the wines and nobody does today. Some people felt that 82s wouldn’t age, for example, but nobody disliked them. I suppose one could add a few more years to that period. Obviously 91 to 93 were poor anyway but I think the great schism took place from 98 onwards. There were some châteaux pandering to what they perceived as being RMP’s taste before, but it wasn’t as widespread as it became. Yes, those were good times indeed. In terms of intrinsic quality there are certainly better-made wines today but in terms of style, it’s hard not to regret that period.


Time to do a 35 year look at the 89 vintage.

We are almost talking apples and oranges here. I imagine if you took the top 30 wines and averaged the alcohol in the two decades you would probably find between 1.5 and 2% difference, a massive 25% or so. The style too has changed, as the wines from the eighties were barely ripe, and when they did achieve ripeness there was a glorious but somewhat precarious balance. The wines are bigger today, richer, softer and for me a lot more obvious. As Pat pointed out, aging may also be different from those eighties wines.

I think the 2014 may hearken back a little to those older vintages, but for the most part, wine lovers nowadays will probably never experience those brilliant but marginal wines from the eighties, which is a shame. Now at full maturity they show that brilliance in a way I don’t think we will see in the current crop.

Just as the wines have changed, so have the critics and consumers who have moved to the new paradigm. Although I am a lover of the wines of the eighties wines, there are plenty of individual. wines from the previous decade which I have tasted and think will age and become icons themselves.


Sounds good to me…I have a couple of 89 Angelus I have been wanting to open…