Robert Parker 95
Tasted single blind at the 1985 Bordeaux horizontal, the 1985 Château Lynch Bages was pitted against two other wines, both First Growths, and it more than held its own. In many ways it is a forerunner for the brilliant 1989 and 1990 that Jean-Michel crafted, though the 1985 has always been more elegant and comely in style. The nose is impressive after three decades with melted tar, a touch of peppermint and delineated black fruit that seem to gain intensity with each passing moment in the glass. Strangely those secondary notes of bay leaf and dried herbs make way for more primal fruit-derived scents with aeration! The palate does not disappoint. Medium rather than full-bodied, beautifully defined tannins and supremely well-judged acidity, this Lynch-Bages is just so well balanced. Hints of black truffle and sandalwood unfold towards the finish that has disarming purity and great persistence. If you want to know why the 1855 Classification screwed up placing Lynch Bages as a Fifth Growth – taste the wonderful 1985 and then the 1989 and 1990 (though the latter pair have greater longevity). Tasted July 2015.
Anticipated maturity: 2015-2028
(5.4 g/l total acidity; 13.1% alcohol): Deep ruby-red with a hint of amber at the rim. Aromas of blackcurrant, coffee, green bell pepper and leathery dried herbs. Rich, round and peppery in the mouth, with similar flavors to the aromas and a long, clean finish. Not the last word in complexity but solidly made, with a soft, ripe texture typical of the vintage and of Lynch-Bages. Better in the mouth than on the nose today, but lacks the complexity for an outstanding score.
We had a case of this once but finished it ages ago, it was so delicious. Three bottles, all bought recently from Berry Bros, were opened. The first was stunning, absolutely all the subtlety, balance and ripe fruit you expect from a top claret. The second was just like it but at 85% intensity. The third was slighlty tainted by TCA. The cork of the first was damp, dark and soiled. The cork on the second was very clean and pale. The cork from the third was pale but smelt a bit suspect. (Though of course there are many instances of gorgeous wines having stinky corks.) The score relates to the first bottle.
Anticipated maturity: 1992-2017