Magdelaine 1952 vs. Coufran 1955 vs. Troplong Mondot 1959 – ménage à trois …

by Oliver Bauer on 25 April 2012 · 1 comment

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1955 has been the last harvest because hard frosts destroyed 1956 the majority of vines in Bordeaux. Therefore it is for a lot of wine lovers a kind of breaking point and the beginning of a new area because with new, younger vines the wine style and quality changed. Indeed. What poured this evening in our glasses was more than just impressive and made it hard to believe that we were dealing here with an almost 60 years old growth from a rather unknown producer. This Coufran showed a mature but bright and still intact, beautiful garnet red color with a slight orange to yellow margin and just a small depot. Very impressive for a wine that age. It needed some time to open completely up but then it flattered our noses with an amazing potpourri out of fresh milled coffee, nougat, dark chocolate, smooth old leather, cereals, peat, graphite and some traces of cold ashes. Of course the fruit was almost completely gone but spicy, ethereal flavors of olives and the soft sweetness of dried figs and Malaga rounded this outstanding bouquet. Also in the mouth the wine still got a stable structure of fine grained tannins paired with a solid acidity. Very nice balanced and elegant with a medium body and a medium aftertaste showing in the end soft hints of rusty metal and a slight greenish bitterness which made me think about a not fully ripe Cabernet Sauvignon. So here the real age became more obvious and some may be bothered by that tiny defective appearance. Considering the fact that this wine wasn’t made with the intention to last more than half a century it would mean to complain on a very high level though. It wasn’t just still drinkable but a real big pleasure and wine-experience and most important it did age with dignity, elegance and expressive complexity which is really hard to find in our days. So we really enjoyed this BDX classic over more than two hours and once more the bottle was way too small ,-) !

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Another very impressive “old wine” experience. Also here one had to look several times at the label to be sure about the vintage. In the glasses we had a BDX with a clearly mature and ripe but also still quite pronounced garnet red color showing a soft diluted, orange margin and plenty of good settled sediments in the bottle. But for such an old fellow that’s nothing harmful and after decanting it I also enjoyed this depot in another glass. It’s like drinking the essence of a wine. Fleshy with real texture and a demanding mineral impact. Every component of the wine is a little bit overdrawn and over the top – kind of “four-dimensional”;-). Well, I like that … ;-) ! The wine itself didn’t ask for any aeration because in the nose it showed right from the start very complex, spicy and distinctive BDX flavors “old school” such as warm forest floor, pencil, smooth leather, black bread crust, bay leaf, sloe-wine, cold smoke and cigar box. All this interwoven by fine, fruity scents of ripe soured cherries and plum jam. No sweaty or other animal notes whatsoever. But of course also here a little patience paid off and this wine-monument added to this already very rich bouquet also smooth and sweet balsamic notes of malt,some caramel and licorice. Simply great ! This is what I would call a blueprint for a ripe, classic Claret. At the palate medium bodied with very fine tannins and a clear, intact acidity which gave structure and sustained the soft ethereal sensation in the background of this wine until the medium length finish. This was topped off and completed by fruity flavors of red currant with a dash of mint. Again a very well balanced wine with a very good pressure but in the same time filigree and with that certain weightless elegance I highly esteem. The most impressive thing concerning such wines isn’t the intensity of the aromas or flavors but their outstanding interaction and persistence. I like to compare that with listening to a famous orchestra performing a great symphony. Dozens of musicians interacting together to obtain pure beauty and completeness. Such a “wine-symphony” makes you pondering and humble. Simply an amazing experience !

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This wine showed the most developed color of the three. A deep but absolutely clear garnet red with a bold red-brown tinge, a yellow rim and some fine dusty depot. After the first whiff you felt like walking in the forest through a game reserve after a warm rain. It was marked by wet dog hairs, undergrowth, mushroom, waxy notes and sweat. Especially the waxy notes made us suspect a cork taint. So I have been very skeptic if the wine would recover with aeration or if this will knock it out for good. In the end it worked but it took some time. Fortunately the cork taint sensation disappeared completely but of course not all the rather unpleasant aromas did vanish. They just softened and stepped in the background so you could consider them as a part of the the “spice team”of the wine. At the main stage mature BDX flavors like cold coffee, dark chocolate, olives, cloves, truffles and old leather took over. Some traces of sloes, smoked paprika and gorse completed the bouquet. At the palate the wine showed a rather slender body with ground but still dry tannins and a good integrated acidity. Yet in balance but clearly on the way down. Metal scents and a waxy sweetness in the medium to short aftertaste confirmed that this wine exceeded its peak already a couple of years ago. So in the end it was no match for the other two wines concerning their outstanding complexity, depth and stage. But never mind. Most likely obtained from young vines and considering the age also this wine performed surprisingly well. Perhaps we should try it one time out of a bigger bottle … ;-)

Conclusion :

Of course such wines aren’t something joyful for people with the claim of pure fruit and full bodied, extractive wines. But concerning complexity and depth all three wines offered a great performance especially the ‘52 and ‘55 vintage. I really would like to know how those wines would have been rated until they reached let’s say their first decade of maturity. 70 – 75 points I guess … too less extract, too high acidity and too much tannins for our today’s taste. However, I really appreciate this wine style also if it means to be forced to wait a while. It is simply genius to drink and to pair it with food. Concerning aging potential it proved again that this has nothing to do with sheer alcohol or a monster extract. It is more likely the entire combination of all the attributes of a wine and enough time to develop this kind of elegance and complexity. But after my humble opinion the most important part of the game was, is and remains the vineyard itself. Not necessary the vintage but the age of the plants. The ‘59 for sure wasn’t a bad wine and referring to the most probably young plantation and the wine’s age it did surprisingly well. But the other two wines simply played in another league. Last but not least I again highly recommend everybody who is interested in such wines to combine them also with moderate spiced food. Because this is what they have been made for and it fits perfectly well – even after more then 50 years. Furthermore it would be nice to see in 50 years which wines of our days survived and what people are saying about it. I am sure, we would be surprised … ;-) !

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kevin Dinol 13 October 2014 at 10:32

Thanks for sharing info about Grand cru classé wine, i will definitly try this wine when i get a chance.

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