Bordeaux, Bottle Notes

Pick My Next Bottle – 1998 Bordeaux

The November installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Bordeaux from the 1998 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened this Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

If Bordeaux were made up only of Pomerol and St.-Emilion (the Right Bank) the 1998 vintage would be one of the greatest of all time. The Merlot based wines from these two districts in 1998 are some of the best ever made in Bordeaux. The wines have everything including ripe, exotic fruit aromas and flavors to copious and opulent tannins. They are serious wines that will reward those with the patience to properly cellar them. The Left Bank did not fare near as well.

The Contenders

  • 1998 Pavie Macquin – Nearly exaggerated levels of intensity, extract, and richness are apparent in this opaque blue/purple-colored wine. Sumptuous aromas of blueberries, blackberries, and cherries combine with smoke, licorice, vanillin, and truffles to create a compelling aromatic explosion. The wine is fabulously dense, full-bodied, and layered, with multiple dimensions, gorgeous purity, and superbly integrated acidity as well as tannin. One of the most concentrated wines of the vintage, it possesses immense potential, but patience is required. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2030. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 1998 Canon-La-Gaffelière – This saturated purple-colored 1998 offers sumptuous aromas of prunes, blueberries, overripe black cherries, chocolate, coffee, and spicy new oak. Full-bodied, opulent, and expressive, this flamboyant/ostentatious effort is crammed with glycerin and extract. The tannin is sweet in this accessible, multilayered 1998. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2022. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 1998 Smith Haut Lafitte – Decadent aromas here, with meat, ripe fruit and spices. Full-bodied, with round, soft tannins and lots of spicy, earthy and leafy flavors. Long and rich. Give it a little more bottle age. This has always been excellent. —’88/’98 Bordeaux blind retrospective (2008). Best after 2010. 93 points from the Wine Spectator.

Which 1998 Bordeaux should I open?

  • 1998 Pavie Macquin (45%, 13 Votes)
  • 1998 Smith Haut Lafitte (31%, 9 Votes)
  • 1998 Canon-La-Gaffelière (24%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 29

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the Decmber installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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7 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle – 1998 Bordeaux

  1. Love SHL and am very interested in how the late 90’s vintages are drinking. As to December, cold weather calls for Syrah/Rhones…..

  2. Since the 2010 was #2 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100, will be interested to see how the 98 has aged. Also, of the 3, it appears to be the most clearly in its prime drinking window.

  3. Hi Tom – well I should have opted for SHL too but that will stand the test of time I’m sure and the ’98 vintage as you say is such a beauty in St Emilion so I went for wine of the moment Canon-La-Gaff – love it’s forward enticing pleasures!

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