With a large crop equivalent in volume to 1982, Bordeaux 1988 is an excellent and full-bodied vintage, offering wines with loads of concentrated fruit and color, firmly-structured and greater-than-usual accessibility in that decade. Ageing beautifully (initially a bit austere – it needed 10-15 years cellaring to realize its very good potential), the 1988s were overshadowed by 1989 and 1990, but their “classic” style, with firm tannins and not overtly fruit-drive in their youth allowed the 1988 to a long cellarage. And there we are: the 30th anniversary!!
Amongst the red producing appellation, the Graves probably produced the best wines of Bordeaux in 1988, followed by Pauillac, St-Julien and Pomerol.
Haut-Brion : fragrant and floral on the nose, but predominantly leather and tobacco. Smooth tannin. Lingering aftertaste. Plenty of time ahead.
La Mission Haut-Brion : Classic nose of black fruits, smoke, cedar, tobacco. Still a fair amount of tannins, but polished and graceful at the same time. Remarkably young.
Lafite Rothschild : Needs time to fully reveal in the glass. Fresh and fruity, beautiful aromatic. Velvety and vigourous palate. A truly magnificent wine!
Latour : Attractive nose (cedar, tobacco leaves, sandalwood). Palate is generous, not austere and beautifully balanced, with a lingering smooth finish.
Mouton Rothschild : Very brown color. Dark fruits and coffee-driven aromas on the nose and the palate. Tannins very smooth and integrated – very pleasurable now.
Pichon Comtesse : Dark ruby color, with smoke, tobacco and blackberries scents. On the palate, the wine shows spectacular: structure, deepness, complexity, with gentle tannins and acidity on the finish. A lovely wine that can be kept much longer.
Duhart-Milon : Chalky, herbaceous and earthy character on the nose. Leathery with good ripe Cabernet fruit on the palate. Can last for another 10 years.
Ducru-Beaucaillou: Remarkable dark color. Red fruited palate, freshness and well-integrated tannins. Long finish. An elegant, mature and well balanced wine that is holding well.
Léoville-Poyferré : Slightly orange tinged color. Dried-herbs, forest scents. Smooth, integrated graphite, leather, tobacco palate. A wonderful St-Julien at its peak.
Petit Village : Fragrant, delightful Pomerol-nose (red fruit, cocoa, cedar, leather). Great ripe fruit, balanced and refreshing on the palate. Long fruit-finish.
The super-star 1988 is one of the greatest vintage of the 20th Century for sweet wines. The weather conditions allowed the formation of botrytis, producing a remarkably rich, unctuous, opulent, therefore zesty and balanced sweet wine.
Rieussec : Deep gold-amber color. Coconut, saffron, creme brulee and dried apricots on the nose. Elegant texture : honey, sirup, tangerine marmalade. Superb acidity and honey finish. Drinking superbly now, and for another 2-3 decades.