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1997 BORDEAUX: MEDOC
May 17, 2000

The Vino Fino Tasters took a look at the 1997 wines from the Medoc region in Bordeaux.
The French view this vintage as being of "bonne qualite" and needing, perhaps, 10+ years to reach maturity>
The Wine Spectator pegs this as an "unven vintage" (what vintage doesn't have quality variations?), saying the Merlot-based wines from St. Emilion and Pomerol are the best.  In fact, from our group of wines, the top scoring wine received "89 points" and most are noted as being ready to "drink now."
The Wine Advocate notes this as a "charming" and "delicious" vintage, saying the wines will be quick to mature, if not immediately drinkable. 

Gerald on the Soap Box:
Many so-called "experts" feel the need to quantify or classify every vintage.   This calls for generalizations which can mislead consumers.

Many would interpret these generalizations as indicating 1997 vintage Bordeaux are wines to by-pass. 
Even our last place wine was, certainly, of pretty good quality, being an above-average quality wine. 

In the US we have a mania for "only the best."  If a particular vintage falls short of being "The Best," there is little interest on these shores in the wines from that particular harvest.

The Wine Spectator, for example, wrote that a particularly prestigious producer of Burgundy should not have even bottled their wines from one vintage, yet in a tasting we conducted at Weimax, their wine placed first.  Had a West Coast winemaker bottled this quality of wine, American eno-scribes would hail that individual as being a "genius."

So, please set fire to your vintage chart if it urges you to not enjoy the 1997 Bordeaux wines.  We found a lot of good wines!

THE WINES Gerald's Ranking Bob's Ranking

VINO FINO TASTER'S
RANKING

TOTAL POINTS 1sts/2nds/
Lasts
BRANAIRE-DUCRU
$35
8 3 7 59 0/1/1
LEOVILLE-BARTON
$50
4 2 2 47 2/2/0
LEOVILLE-POYFERRE
$50
1 5 5 54 2/1/2
LYNCH-BAGES
$58
7 8 8 71 0/1/5
POUJEAUX
$25
5 1 6 55 3/1/1
PICHON-BARON
$58
2 6 3 48 1/3/1
PICHON-LALANDE
$70
6 4 4 51 2/1/1
SOCIANDO-MALLET
$33
3 7 1 47 2/2/1
Tiebreaker was the greater Number of Third Place Votes!

The "STATS" show the wines are, for the most part, closely grouped together.   Three wines were within one point for the honor of finishing in first place! 

CHATEAU LYNCH-BAGES was the last place wine this evening.     This displayed a hint of cedary oak on its bouquet and nice Cabernet fruit.  It is a fairly "muscular" wine with some aggressive tannins around the "edges."  This may develop nicely with another 5-10-15 years in the bottle.  One star.

CHATEAU BRANAIRE-DUCRU ranked 7th according to the Vino Fino crew.   This was marked down on my score sheet for showing just a hint of a leathery, meaty note.  I don't think it is "squeaky clean" and this caused me to rate it 8th, though I still would give it a half to one-star rating.  Five to ten years of aging would not be out of the question here.

CHATEAU POUJEAUX, a noteworthy estate in the sub-appellation of "Moulis-en-Medoc" was the 6th place finisher.  This wine had more first place votes than any other.  I found the nose to show hints of berries and herbs, with just a whiff of cedary oak.  It is moderately tannic and this caused it to seem to me to be a bit shallow in the middle.  However, 8-12 years of cellaring may round this out into a very nice bottle of wine.    One star.

CHATEAU LEOVILLE-POYFERRE was the group's 5th place wine.  Both Mark Naismith and myself placed this first.  The fragrance is stellar!  Lots of cedary, pencil-shaving-sorts of woodsy perfumes waft out of the glass.  It is unmistakably "Bordeaux."  There is plenty of structure for 8-15 years of cellaring and the intensity of the plummy Cabernet fruit should insure an excellent wine in a decade or so.  Unfortunately, two tasters nailed this wine as their least favorite, causing it to tumble out of contention.  Two stars.

CHATEAU PICHON-LALANDE arrived in fourth position.  Bright fruit, sweet berry notes and a hint of oak gives this a very nice nose.  It is an elegant, refined "claret," being medium-bodied rather than full.  The tannic structure of the wine suggests 5-10 years of cellaring, though it is certainly pretty nice right now.   One star.

CHATEAU PICHON-BARON was the group third place wine, missing the top spot by a whisker!  The nose was terrific, showing sweet oak, mocha, cedar and sandalwood.   It is a big, moderately tannic, minerally Cabernet in need of 8-15 years of cellaring.  Two stars.

CHATEAU LEOVILLE-BARTON finished tied for first place, so we went to the "tie-breaker system."  It had the same number of second-place rankings, but no thirds, so we'll call this our second place wine.  The Cabernet aromas are evident, with a sweet plummy note and a hint of oak.  It is a very pretty wine in the mouth, the balance of wood and fruit being excellent.  One-and-a-half stars.

CHATEAU SOCIANDO-MALLET, an outstanding cru bourgeois, once again has ravaged its more famous and prestigious neighbors!  The aromas display cassis and classic Cabernet fragrances with oak lurking in the background.  The wine is quite powerful in the mouth, being big and rich with cedary undertones.  Five to 15 years of cellaring are not out of the question.  Two stars.

VINO FINO TASTING ARCHIVE

2007 RUSSIAN RIVER PINOT NOIRS  February 2010

A RANGE OF FRENCH CHABLIS WINES  January 2010

HOLIDAY DINNER & WINE MARATHON  December 2009

ROSÉ SPARKLING WINES  November 2009

ARGENTINEAN MALBECS  October 2009

WEST COAST CHARDONNAYS  September 2009

GREEK RED WINES  August 2009

2005 BUDGET BORDEAUX  July 2009

CAMPANIAN WHITE WINES  June 2009

MIXED BAG OF CALIFORNIA PINOT NOIRS  April 2009

RIOJA WINES, MOSTLY FROM THE 2004 VINTAGE  March 2009

NORTH COAST PETITE SIRAHS  February 2009

SYRAH & PETITE SIRAH COMPARISON  January 2009

A VINO FINO CHRISTMAS  December 2008

MOSTLY 2005s: NAPA CABERNETS  November 2008

SONOMA COUNTY PINOT NOIRS  October 2008

SANTA RITA HILLS -2006 VINTAGE- PINOT NOIRS  SEPTEMBER 2008

NEWLY RELEASED ZINFANDELS  August 2008

WHITE RHÔNE VALLEY WINES  JULY 2008

LOIRE VALLEY SAUVIGNONS  JUNE 2008

FRENCH CHABLIS 2005-2006  MAY 2008

NORTHERN RHÔNE SYRAHS  APRIL 2008

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS PINOT NOIRS  January 2008

ANNUAL HOLIDAY CHRISTMAS DINNER  December 2007

WEST COAST CHARDONNAYS  November 2007

AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ  October 2007

SPANISH TEMPRANILLO WINES  September 2007

SONOMA'S 2005 VINTAGE ZINFANDELS  August 2007

CURRENT RELEASE (2004-2005) ZINFANDELS  July 2007

ROS WINES FROM ALL OVER  June 2007

ITALIAN LAGREIN WINES  May 2007

ARGENTINEAN MALBECS  April 2007

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE PINOT NOIRS  March 2007

MOSTLY 2004 CABERNETS   February 2007

CRU BEAUJOLAIS  January 2007

A VINO FINO CHRISTMAS  December 2006

CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS  November 2006

PINOT NOIRS of VALUE-PRICING  October 2006

WORLD OF SYRAHS TASTING September 2006

AUSSIE CABERNET-SHIRAZ BLENDS  August 2006

ALEXANDER VALLEY (California)  and MARGARET RIVER (Australia) CABERNETS  July 2006 

CALIFORNIA PETITE SIRAHS  June 2006

2004 NORTH COAST PINOTS and a FRENCH INTRUDER  May 2006

AGLIANICO : BASILICATA & CAMPANIA'S MAJOR RED WINE  April 2006

NERO D'AVOLA - A TASTE OF SICILIA  March 2006

UNDER THE VINO FINO RADAR ZINFANDELS  January 2006

HOLIDAY WINE TASTING & DINNER  December 2005

BUBBLIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD  November 2005

NORTH COAST PINOT NOIRS  October 2005

STATE OF CONFUSION CABERNETS  September 2005

TIM ZAINER'S SIDEWAYS LOOK AT MERLOTS  August 2005

LOIRE VALLEY CABERNET FRANCS  June 2005 

CALIFORNIA SYRAHS  March 2005

2002 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS  February 2005

VINO FINO HOLIDAY WINE MARATHON  December 2004

CHARDONNAYS OF MODEST PRICE November 2004

SPANISH TEMPRANILLO  October 2004

2002 CENTRAL COAST PINOT NOIRS  September 2004

AUSSIE SHIRAZ-CABERNET BLENDS  August 2004

GEWRZTRAMINERS FROM ALSACE July 2004

2001 SOUTHERN RHNES (7 Chteauneufs & a Vacqueyras)  June 2004

AGLIANICO WINES FROM CAMPANIA & BASILICATA  May 2004

MONTEPULCIANO WINES FROM THE ABRUZZO & MARCHE REGIONS  April 2004

SONOMA ZINFANDELS  February 2004

1997 BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO  January 2004

VINO FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA 2003

2001 CTES du RHNES  September 17, 2003

2000 OREGON PINOT NOIRS  August 20, 2003

WEST COAST SYRAHS  July 16, 2003

2000 Bordeaux  June 18, 2003

2000 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS May 21, 2003

OFF THE BEATEN PATH SYRAHS APRIL 16, 2003

2002 NEW ZEALAND SAUVIGNON BLANCS  March 19, 2003

1999 California CABERNETS  February 19, 2003

VINO FINO HOLIDAY BACCHANALIA December 4, 2002

AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ  August 21, 2002

CHAMPAGNES & SPARKLERS July 17, 2002

Interesting Paired CHARDONNAYS
May 15, 2002

2001 Southern Hemisphere SAUVIGNON BLANCS   Feb. 20, 2002

1999 ZINFANDELS January 16, 2002

HOLIDAY SEASON BACCHANALIA
December 5, 2001

1999-2000 New PINOT NOIRS November 14, 2001

1999 CALIFORNIA ZINFANDELS October 17, 2001

1998 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS September 19, 2001

1999 LANGUEDOC REDS August 15, 2001

1997 SAUTERNES July 18, 2001

Mostly 1998 NEBBIOLO June 20, 2001

1999 PINOT NOIRS May 16, 2001

1996 SAINT-MILION Tasting April 18, 2001

CARNEROS CHARDONNAYS March 21, 2001

1984-1985 NAPA CABERNETS/John Vignau Memorial Tasting  October 20, 2000

1997 CALIFORNIA CABERNETS   September 20, 2000

1998 CALIFORNIA CHARDONNAYS   August 16, 2000

WINES FROM THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE: CLARETS  June 21, 2000

WINES FROM UNDER THE TUSCAN (and Umbrian) SUN   Aprile 19, 2000

1997 BORDEAUX: MEDOC May 17, 2000

 

 

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