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Chateau Margaux 1990
For me, the 1990 Margaux continues to be the quintessential example of this chateau. In addition to being profoundly concentrated, its ethereal bouquet of sweet black fruits, cedar, spices, flowers, smoke, and vanilla is remarkably well-formed and intense. In the mouth, there is not a hard edge to this classic wine, which is super-concentrated, soft, silky-textured, and opulent. It displays an opaque ruby/purple color, a compelling bouquet, and exquisite layers of flavors that cascade over the palate without any notion of toughness or coarseness. The acidity is low, although sufficient enough to provide vibrancy and focus. This wine's significant tannin level is remarkably well-concealed by the wealth of fruit. Although still an infant in terms of development, this fabulous Margaux is already drinkable. There have been so many great vintages of Margaux under the Mentzelopoulos regime that it is almost inconceivable that the 1990 could outrank the 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, and 1995, but, in my opinion, it possesses an extra-special dimension. While it is approachable, it will last for 25-30 years.
A stunner, with a glorious aromatic display of mulled plum, blackberry and cherry notes seamlessly melded with rooibos tea, singed balsa wood and ground vanilla bean accents. The structure is so fine-grained that it's almost hard to find, but the marathonesque length shows it's there. As gorgeous as it is, this remains a hair behind the modern greats in terms of concentration. Still, it should hold at this peak for some time. Awfully close to the '89, but sometimes we have to split hairs.
For more than five hundred years, season after season, generations of vineyard-workers, grapeharvesters, cellar-workers, coopers and many other craftsmen have all played a part in making Château Margaux what it is today: a wine with an incomparable personality, reflected in the elegant Palladian building which adorns its label. In 1977, the estate was purchased by the late André Mentzelopoulos, and it is now run by his daughter, Corinne Mentzelopoulos.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.