1995 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac-Leognan (From Private Cellar)

1995 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac-Leognan (From Private Cellar)

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Bordeaux 1995

1995 Bordeaux — Northern Médoc and Pomerol Shine after a Hot Summer

1995 was the best vintage in Bordeaux since the superb 1990s. It shone most in the northern Médoc — although many would give 1996 the nod there — and in Pomerol, where it was better than 1996.

The growing season got off to a good start, as warm conditions allowed a timely and even bud break. Flowering in May was early, and the weather was excellent, setting the stage for the largest crop since 1986. Spring was followed by the hottest, driest summer in 40 years. By the end of summer, the grapes were small and concentrated with thick skins. Phenolic ripeness was high as were tannins, but the grapes were not showing significant signs of stress. Rain arrived in September, falling from the 7th through the 19th, followed by fine, dry conditions that lasted into October.

On paper, it looked like a vintage that would be very good to excellent across the board. In reality, the wines turned out to be very good but somewhat tannic and hard, with some lacking elegance and a certain sweetness of fruit and charm. Perhaps it was the diluting effect of the September rain — particularly tough on Merlot — combined with the high tannins that caused a slight imbalance of fruit and structure. The success of the northern Médoc, where the Cabernet grapes had the most time to recover and ripen after the September rains, seems to support that theory, but Pomerol is also quite good. It is a vintage to be a little cautious of at this point, with the exception of the very top wines, as the firm and dominant tannins may be destined to outlive the more tentative fruit in many cases.

Key Dates

Flowering came early during excellent weather

Hottest and driest of the last 40 years

Rain falls, followed by fine, dry conditions which lasted through harvest

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