1986 Pape Clément


I don’t drink enough mature Pessac-Léognan. I’m not alone there. It’s one of Bordeaux’s overlooked genres of wine. You do not see bottles as often as their Pauillac or Saint-Julien counterparts, as Pessac-Léognan wines do not garner the same reverence, for whatever reason. Meeting up with a friend, newly liberated from Hong Kong, we tasted this little gem.

The 1986 Pape Clément is a vintage that I had never tasted previously and came in a half-bottle. Upon first opening, the aromatics display a bit of funk, but it improves over the course of an hour, gaining more clarity and freshness, offering attractive scents of mulberry, roasted chestnut, Cuban cigars and damp autumn leaves. The palate is not complex, and yet it is balanced. Slightly rustic compared to its peers in the Médoc, it has ample weight, and though it’s rough around the edges, it wears its heart on its sleeve. Decayed red fruit, quite savory with maybe a touch of brettanomyces, this Pessac-Léognan is still trotting along nicely. That said, I would not leave it too much longer before broaching. 90/Drink 2023-2030.

© 2023, Vinous. No portion of this article may be copied, shared or re-distributed without prior consent from Vinous. Doing so is not only a violation of our copyright, but also threatens the survival of independent wine criticism.