Bordeaux, Bottle Notes

Pick My Next Bottle: ’95 Bordeaux

When I first began collecting and consuming wine 20+ years ago, sites like, and did not exist. Aside from hard copy subscriptions to the Wine Advocate or Wine Spectator, it was difficult to get current information on wines you were cellaring.

Why is this important? All of us hope to open that great bottle of wine at the peak of its evolution, when tannins have subsided and the fruit is still lush and vibrant. 20 years ago the adage was “if you can’t buy a case… you can’t buy the wine.” This made sense at the time because you needed the extra bottles to track the wine by drinking it every year.

With so many available resources, you can now buy three bottles and have a pretty good idea of optimal drinking time by doing a little homework. I’d like to help out with a new monthly series: Pick My Next Bottle.

Each month I’ll select three bottles from my cellar and let you, my esteemed readers, determine which bottle to open. Ideally this will be a producer you are interested in or, better yet, a bottle you have in your own cellar. I’ll follow up with an in-depth bottle note on the wine.

July Contenders

James Suckling at first compared the 95 vintage in Bordeaux to legendary vintages like 47, 59 and 82, and scored the vintage a 95 on the Wine Spectator vintage chart.

17 years after the fact, I think it is clear the vintage is inferior to great vintages like 82, 89 and 00. That being said, there are some stellar bottles from 95. The contenders, with original Wine Spectator commentary and scores, are:

  • 95 Leoville Poyferre – Best Leoville Poyferre ever. Big, mouthpuckering wine. Bubbling over with mint, blackberry and currant character. Full bodied, with extremely full yet finely textured tannins and a long, silky texture. 93 points.
  • 95 Calon-Segur – Greatest Calon-Segur ever made. An absolutely amazing red, this third-growth Bordeaux is remarkable for its layers of berry, violets and perfume. It’s full-bodied and very velvety on the palate, with masses of character and an ultralong finish. 96 points.
  • 95 Pontet Canet – This is the best Pontet Canet I have ever tasted. Dark ruby-colored, offering berry, raspberry and dark chocolate character. Full bodied and very fruity, with big velvety tannins. A glorious red, this goes on and on on the palate, displaying wonderful structure and fruit. 94 points.

Which bottle should I open?

  • 95 Pontet Canet (42%, 14 Votes)
  • 95 Calon-Segur (33%, 11 Votes)
  • 95 Leoville Poyferre (24%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 33

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The wine will be opened on Saturday night and the note will be published on Monday. Cheers!

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10 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle: ’95 Bordeaux

  1. I vote for 95 Leoville Poyferre. I have not tasted this specific vintage but I’m pretty sure it would be earlier drinking than either 95 Pontet Canet or 95 Calon-Segur. I have tried the other two wines about two years ago. The Pontet was fully open and drinking well with a large drinking window ahead. The Calon-Segur was in a “dumb” closed-in phase and seemingly needed more time to emerge from its shell (it was fully open around year 12 and was drinking beautifully but seems to have closed down since then). Calon is typically a very robust wine and should have the largest drinking window of the three bottles listed here. Enjoy!

    1. Peter, I think you are spot on regarding Calon-Segur. It is always a wine that is slow to come around much like Leoville Barton, Lynch Bages, etc.

  2. Wow, Suckling was in love with every bottle he drank that year! Must have been staying at each Chateau……for free, haha.

  3. Pontet Canet for sure! Just had 1995 last week. While this wine has so much life left, they are magic and nuanced right now! Bruiser tamed and integrated!

  4. Tom, I picked the Canet since it is my favorite of my very, very limited Bordeaux knowledge. Had a 2000 last year that I loved.

  5. From my experience with these three chateaux, I would say that the Leoville Poyferre would be showing the best. The Pontet-Canet, though quite a fine effort should be firmer and more tannic. The Calon-Segur would be tighter and less opulent then either the Saint-Julien or the Pauillac, is probably the hardest of the trio. Though one of my favorites from the northern Medoc, it can be stern and tight.

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