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October 24, 2014

1982 Bordeaux Offer – A Rare Opportunity

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“1982 is unquestionably the finest vintage after 1961, with some individual châteaux having produced their finest wines of the last forty years.”
Robert Parker, June 2000

Following the high demand from our series of offers of iconic vintages from Bordeaux, we are delighted to present some of the highlights and best value wines of the legendary 1982 vintage. The collection below was purchased en primeur and has been stored in a private cellar since it was bottled in 1984. Two weeks ago the cases were carefully removed from their resting place of 30 years and were thoroughly checked and photographed by our team.

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Since its first barrel tastings, the 1982 Bordeaux vintage has offered a soap-operaesque set of disagreements, cemented worldwide reputations and has garnered more interest and press attention than any other wines ever made.

The harvest began on 13th September 1982, the exact day the harvest commenced for the legendary 1945 vintage. The growing season was absolutely perfect; July was very hot and dry, August cooled down a little, however, September saw temperatures peak at over 38°C. The result was the largest ever crop seen in Bordeaux, Merlot ripened perfectly and the two days of rain just before the Cabernet Sauvignon was picked served to help achieve the ideal phenolic ripeness.

The growing season was not the only factor that led 1982 to be considered one of the best vintages of the latter half of the 20th Century. It signalled the adoption of new techniques and marked Bordeaux’s first truly modern wines. These techniques were pioneered by Emile Peynaud, famed oenologist and mentor to Michel Rolland, such as later picking to allow increased ripeness and softer, more welcoming tannins as well as the use of a larger proportion of new oak barrels for maturation.

Another figure that was integral to the success of the vintage was a young lawyer from Maryland, Robert Parker. Parker’s love for wines had grown to the extent that he established the bi-monthly Wine Advocate in 1978 and the 1982 vintage cemented his reputation as a worldwide phenomenon. Parker’s relentless enthusiasm of the opulent and unctuous wines and recommendation to purchase as many cases as possible en primeur flew in the face of the older, more established wine writers who felt the accessibility and fruit forward nature of the wines would lead to early degradation and a disappointing future. The flurry of press coverage that surrounded Parker’s proclamations led to unprecedented sales of Bordeaux futures in the USA, aided by a favourable exchange rate and a sensible release price.

Bordeaux 1982s are rare and cases that have been cellared undisturbed since bottling are practically impossible to find. Due to its quality and significance, the vintage has become as iconic as the victory vintage of 1945 and many wines have moved from cellar to cellar changing hands for vast sums. Now is the correct time to purchase the 1982s with a view to drinking, they have begun to develop incredible tertiary notes of cedar, incense and leather to complement the jammy and dried fruits that have been a feature of the vintage for over 30 years. This offer is not to be missed.

Robert Parker, tasted 2009:

Le Gay 1982 – 97+ points
Made by the same team that produced the perfect 1982 Lafleur, this wine had been forgotten in my cellar. While it’s clear that the new owner, Catherine Pere-Verge, has made some amazing wines since 2005 (especially the 2008), the 1982 is a wine for the ages. Still an inky/purple color, it boasts an extraordinary perfume of spring flowers intermixed with black raspberries, truffles, and kirsch. Full-bodied with velvety tannins, the wine remains extremely young, but the sweetness of the tannins and the sensational fruit concentration make for a remarkable wine that should evolve for another 30+ years.

Cos d’Estournel 1982 – 95 points
This 1982 is still displaying a beautiful deep ruby/purple hue as well as a stunning set of aromatics consisting of blue and black fruits, loamy earth, flowers, licorice, and spice box. The wine is medium to full-bodied with sweet tannins, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and a silky finish. It appears to have hit full maturity, but it can easily be held in a cold cellar for another 10+ years.

Figeac 1982 – 94 points
This is actually a younger, more concentrated wine than the 1990. A dense plum/garnet color with a slight lightening at the edge is followed by a sensational Figeac nose of mint, fruitcake, Asian spices, gobs of sweet black and red fruits, and a smoky component in the background. Medium to full-bodied with lovely freshness, this 1982 appears to be fully mature, but it tasted the same a decade ago, and it should hold at this level for another 10-20 years.

La Lagune 1982 – 92 points
Unquestionably the greatest La Lagune until the 2005 was conceived, the 1982 exhibits a dense ruby/purple-tinged color along with a big, sweet bouquet of black cherries, licorice, smoky toast, and forest floor, a plush, medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, and sweet tannin. It is close to full maturity, and should keep for another decade.

Leoville Barton 1982 – 90+ points
With massive, huge concentration, excruciating tannin, this earthy, meaty St.-Julien has everything, but it needs to be forgotten for at least 10-15 years. At this tasting, it did not appear to have budged since the last time I had it, and it did not taste terribly different than it did at age five. While it is remarkably concentrated, it is hard to rate it any higher because it may take another 25 years to reach maturity. Even with this level of concentration, one can never be sure if the fruit will hold. Nevertheless, I have plenty of confidence in it.

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