Jane Anson: Bordeaux 1975 tasting

news  %tages Jane Anson: Bordeaux 1975 tastingThere is real charm in re-tasting what was arguably the last excellent vintage made in the ancient style, and Bordeaux 1975 is not as hard as you would reckon to get hold of, says Jane Anson. Chateau Lynch Bages vineyardThis Bordeaux 1975 tasting, done to coincide with Decanter’s 40th anniversary, is a look at how classic ancient school Bordeaux can age. I suggest opening the bottles just a small time previous to drinking to preserve the delicate aromas.
Château Gloria AOC Saint Julien 1975 – 88 points, Drink now.

Founded by Jean-Louis Triaud’s father-in-law Henri Martin in 1943, building it a relative newcomer for Bordeaux. In 1975, Triaud had just married Martin’s daughter and just finished a year of learning the winemaking ropes at Château Latour, where Martin was co-director. Unlike Latour, the Gloria wines were vinified in large oak vats, with no new oak (although Martin came from a family of coopers). At 40 years ancient, this has http://1000-facts-about-wine.com kept its colour remarkably well; there are subdue rich deep reds on show and a muted but apparent fruit character on the nose. Cabernet sauvignon makes up just over half of the blend, with merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc rounding things out. The tannins dry out towards the end of the palate, but this has retained the generous, smooth character predictable of Gloria. 12.5% abv.
Château Ormes de Pez, AOC Saint Estephe 1975 - 89 points. Drink now.
This Jean-Michel Cazes owned property is a real surprise. Rich deep red in colour, fragrant and soft on the nose. On the palate things are not hugely intense or persistent, but subdue full of pleasure. The estate was using 10 year ancient oak barrels to age the wine in 1975. Small yields help concentrate flavours – Ormes de Pez had 44% less merlot than 1974 and 38% less cabernet sauvignon, giving 69% of the overall production of the year previous to. But much better quality, and a right pleasure to taste http://1000-facts-about-wine.com today. 12% abv.
Les Forts de Latour, AOC Pauillac 1975 – 90 points. Drink now.

The wines at Latour were being made by Jean-Paul Gardère and Henri Martin in 1975. This is hugely impressive for a second wine (the mark made its first advent in the 1960s but was only made each year from 1990). At 40 years ancient, this is perfectly rich, with deep black pepper spice and liquroice on show, brilliant complexity and grip, with a surprisingly youthful lift on the end. The financial means of the First Growths have an impact – they would have amongst the rare estates to be using new oak at the time according to Triaud. Very impressive, far more contemporary in flavor than the others here. 13% abv.
Chateau Lynch Bages AOC Pauillac 1975 (5th Progression) – 91 points. Drink 2015 – 2020 (in magnum).

Jean-Michel Cazes’ third vintage, and his minutes of the harvest note brilliant weather conditions nearly each day up in Pauillac. Harvest of merlot started at Lynch Bages http://1000-facts-about-wine.com on September 25 (it had been expected to start on the 29th until the rains fell) and lasted until October 12th ( a Sunday when Cazes described the fermentations as going ‘very very well’). Only one or two vats needed chaptilisation because natural sugar levels were so high. On the nose, a touch of band aid suggests brett, but this soon clears and the wine is full of life. Tomato leaf on the attack, the mid palate has a seam of cassis and there is lovely menthol on the end. This tasting was in bottle, and I followed it with a tasting from magnum a week before long. The magnum had held up far better, with rich dark fruit flavours subdue abundant. 12.5% abv.
 Château Beychevelle AOC Saint Julien 1975 (4th Progression) – 88 points. Drink now.

The wine was aged in cement tanks in the 1970s, again with no new oak. This has maintained an brilliant depth of colour, and has aged gracefully. There is a touch of menthol http://1000-facts-about-wine.com on the end, and overall this is one of the most delicate of this lineup. A lovely, classic claret, very much of its age and appellation. It will have benefited from greater selection in 1975, as the second wine Amiral de Beychevelle was made in 1974. As an aside, owner Archille-Fould gave another fascinating gift to the Médoc besides this tasty wine – he was the French Postmaster General and in the mid 1970s went the phone book printing facility from Paris to Saint-Laurent-Médoc, making 300 jobs. 12% abv.
Château Ducru Beaucaillou AOC Saint Julien (2nd Progression) – 90 points. Drink now.

Excellent nose, lovely clean fruit; an brilliant wine that is land up extremely well, although as with all of these it is fully in its drinking window, and should be loved soon. This was aged in both cement vats and oak barrels. Ducru was owned by the Borie family in 1975, as it is today, but as they had not yet bought Grand Puy Lacoste (1978), both Jean-Eugène http://1000-facts-about-wine.com Borie and his son François Xavier were building the wine here in Saint Julien (although François-Xavier would not join full time until 1978). An estate that often takes a long time to soften, even in more celebrated vintages, this really showcases its potential to hold steady and reward long ageing. 12.5% abv.
Château Latour AOC Pauillac (1st Progression) – 93 points. Drink 2015 – 2025.

Brilliant, the standout wine of this lineup; hugely soft tannins and evident purity and integrity in the soft autumnal fruits, given extra complexity by notes of pencil lead and soft leather with crème de cassis on the end. As with Les Forts de Latour, the wine would have been aged in new oak barrels, at least in part, and that has had an impact on how well it has aged. Henri Martin commented on September 26, as harvest was beginning, that the health of the grapes was superb, but that he felt the colour in the skins was a small lacking. He might have been http://1000-facts-about-wine.com pleasantly surprised by how well the colour has stood up to four decades of ageing, as this is one of the darkest and most complete on show. In the perfect window for drinking now, but honestly there is subdue no rush to consume. 12.5% abv.
Château Haut-Brion AOC Graves (1st Progression) – 92 points. Drink 2015 – 2023.

Note that this was Graves in 1975, as Pessac Léognan appellation was not made until 1987. I tasted this separately from the others in this lineup at Haut-Brion with Jean-Bernard Delmas, who was building the wine at the time. This has walnut-edged tones to the colour, and is surprisingly dark. The nose is fragrant, violet-laced, full of classic Haut-Brion markers of leather, tobacco, woodsmoke, saffron, with a subtle smoky edge of grilled fig jam. A fascinating wine to look at in comparison to the Médocs also. Money may have been forceful for most of the additional estates, but at Haut-Brion the American Dillon family was continuing to inves, meaning new oak and http://1000-facts-about-wine.com stainless steel vats. And where malolactic was just getting started at many Médoc estates, Haut-Brion had been regularly practicing this secondary fermentation since 1962. The estate’s proximity and close relations with the school of oenology – and Emile Peynaud – will have played its part here. Delmas said this was tasting ‘infinitely better than 10 years ago’. A silky, caressing and terribly charming wine. 12.5% abv.
Château d’Yquem AOC Sauternes 1975 (1st Progression) – 96 points. Drink 2015 – 2030.
Noted as a standout at the time of harvest, and subdue land up incredibly well. This gorgeous wine remains rich, luscious and truly of brilliant quality. Tiny yields of perhaps 8hl/h, it is showing notes of orange peel, orange rind, caramel, colorless truffle, with a dry end. This is silky smooth and utterly gorgeous, with apparent sharp taste underpinning the fruit, and a wonderful lift of acidity. This can easily last another few decades, and offers huge pleasure (and has done on several occasions when I have tasted it, suggested http://1000-facts-about-wine.com consistency). Run by Alexandre de Lur Saluces at the time. 13% abv.
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