Feb 26, 2012

Mouton Rothschild vertical 1983,-85,-87,-88,-89,-90,-96 + Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990

A vertical tasting of seven vintages of Mouton Rothschild, one of the five First growths in Bordeaux. This Pauillac estate's wines are sought after and it was a priviledge to take part in tasting of the wines.

General reflections about the Mouton Rothschild wines and Mouton's style: 
- The acidity of the wines was surprisingly high while tannins are more robust than silky, however really well integrated. Both of these are indication of long life expectancy for the Chateaux's wines.
- Beautiful fruitiness with red berries and mocha dominating in the good vintages, barnyard and leather in mature vintages, however the trademark taste of cabernet sauvignon on the left bank of Bordeaux, blackcurrant, is usually replaced by notes of  blueberries, redcurrants, cranberries and even lingonberry.
- Big extraction and long aftertaste. However no notable change in viscosity even in the older vintages, i.e. the wines keep their freshness, however for wine enthusiasts who would like to see their wines "dry" into a liqueur like elixir, you have to go older than 1983 which was the oldest vintage here.
- The wines hold up really well when opened, i.e. do not fade in the glass and are not sensitive as such.

Mouton Rothschild 1983

The palest color of them all, which is not surprising since this was the oldest of the bottles. Like mahogany, a garnet color of medium(- ) intensity with some brownish in the mix, and an orange hue.
Really beautiful nose of tobaccco, leather and loads of fruit which has dried nicely, and with some ripe plum.
Red berries on the palate, both acidity and alcohol are on a medium+ level however not disturbing the balance of the wine as fruit is so ripe, all indications of a big wine with a fleshy and broad mouth feel. Interestingly, due to the excessive acidity cranberries (!) dominate the palate, with dark spices and licorice.

The fruit had to be very ripe in this vintage indicated by very ripe fruit in the nose and high alcohol in the mouth feel. I rated this better than 1985.

Mouton Rothschild 1985

The 1985 was a more straightforward wine than the 1983, being more fruity however also leaner. A medium-intensive ruby color. Mocha and dark chocolate on the nose with leather and barnyard notes, I wrote to my tasting notes "like having red berries crushed & fermented inside a leather saddlebag". The warm vintage is reflected in a more toasty feeling. Even more ripe red fruit than in the 1983, taste of red currants and cigar box, with lively acidity with bigger tannins than in 1983. However some green notes also, like stalks. Evolves in the glass by red berries turning gradually to black.

Mouton Rothschild 1987

Vintage 1987 was not a great year for Mouton. More orange in the color than in any of the wines. Nose is quite straightforward however with a liqueur like feeling. Nose gives you red fruit and blackcurrant leaves, licorice, herbs and green stalk notes, no mocha here. Nose improves in the glass to a more ripe red fruit and apricot with time.  However the wine is not a lush one compared to its siblings. On the palate it is closed, tight and one-dimensional, with the nuances of the nose not coming through in the taste, and compared to nose the fruit is more of a mix of red and black fruit.

Mouton Rothschild 1988

This is a big and bold however also refined wine, which is still slightly one-dimensional. The color is more intensive ruby than in 1983 or 1985, however medium to medium+ ruby. A lush nose of fruits and mocha, leather and dark spices and some green paprika notes. Fruit driven style full of blackcurrants and redcurrants, no leather here. Ripe cranberry and redcurrant in the taste with coffee, chocolate and smoky aromas, however the wine is like in a silo - can only go one way. Great acidity which is balanced, i.e. does not attack from the glass.

Mouton Rothschild 1989

The Darth Vader of the vertical as the wine is so full of dark spices and really ripe black fruit, mainly plums.

A medium ruby color shows slightly matured elements. The nose is full of really interesting aromas - in addition to strawberry and blueberry, also "amaretto" almond liqueur, lilac, and leather. Other tasters also noted some "oil painting" and "gasoline" notes. Seems like a really well balanced wine.
The taste is full of ripe plums mixed with pepper and other dark spices, however the finish is surprisingly acid and tannic. A really long aftertaste.

Mouton Rothschild 1990

It is remarkable how many Bordeaux wines from 1990 are so fleshy and meaty. The vintage was superb, and the meaty and toasted aromas developed as trademark for the vintage.

Similar color as in 1989. However the nose of Mouton 1990 is totally different to any of the other wines in the vertical tasting. The fleshy and toasty nose is full of smoked meat and dark chocolate while being interconnected with really ripe fruit.

The balance of the wine is best of the vertical. The style of the wine is of beautiful dried lingonberries, ripe strawberries and plum. The acidity is big however best balanced of them all. Overall the structure of the wine is beautiful. Alcohol comes through a bit, i.e. not being in perfect harmony with the other components of the wine (fruit, acidity, tannins). The overall perception of the wine was that the 1990 Mouton was really good however not aging as well as others, the wine would be at peak in about five years (2017).

Mouton Rothschild 1996

The 1996 Mouton was opened too young being only 16 years old. The great bordeaux wines should be aged well beyond 16 years to be enjoyed at their prime, however it was interesting to see how the development from "young" (16 years old) to more mature (29 years old) happened in the vertical tasting.

The darkest color of vertical. Closed nose, blackberries and black fruit, mocha. The wine is nicely structured however still a bit one-dimensional and tight - this one needs time. Semi-ripe fruit fading on the mid-palate. Large acidity again. Really long aftertaste indicating that extraction was big in 1996.

Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990 (St. Julien)

After the Mouton tasting we headed to Chez Dominique's wine bar for a Ducru-Beaucaillou 1990 to reflect on the Mouton tasting. And what a great wine it was!

The 1990 Ducru-Beaucaillou had matured nicely and showed the same meaty and toasty aromas as in 1990 Mouton. Medium intensive ruby color with an orange hue. Maraschino cherries, toasty, meat, mocha, chocolate, espresso, cedar, cigar and spices, with a some barnyard note. Cedar was expected of a St.Julien, however the multidimensional feeling of the wine was really enticing.

Ahhh, the taste. A full-bodied yet feminine style, the wine was in perfect balance. Absolutely great ripe red and black fruit dominated by redcurrants, charred meat, ink and black cherries. A lot of fruit there to "dry up", however not quite yet i.e. most of fruit is still fresh. It would be really interesting to taste this one when the fruit dries more, a positive in mature wines.The wine has decades in front of it so hopefully I will find opportunities. On a critical note, tannins are not totally integrated and the finish is a bit short.

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