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1995 Bordeaux vintage: 10 years on

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It's fair to say the 1995 Bordeaux vintage didn't necessarily get the kudos it initially deserved. Ten years on, we explore how well these wines have aged and recommend our top picks

A Bordeaux vintage filling out beautifully

Somewhat unfairly overshadowed by the uniformly excellent 1996s for a long time, the Bordeaux 1995 vintage is full of gems. We’ve been lucky to have sampled several wines in recent months, from both sides of the Gironde, and the top examples are filling out beautifully with a fleshy richness that was perhaps missing in their youth. As they mature, the 1995 Bordeaux wines are becoming more and more interesting and well worth buying.

Why were they overlooked for so long and what’s changed for the better?

From barrel and early on in bottle, these 1995s just didn’t have the kind of showy perfection that saw the 1996s steal the show. The Cabernet Sauvignon struggled to ripen fully, giving a slight greenness and tightness, whilst a higher proportion of Merlot than usual was used which meant that when young, these reds suffered from a lack of cohesion that has taken two decades to shrug off. At 20 years, they are really starting to express themselves and have become a very interesting proposition.

Which are the critics’ picks in 1995?

The best wines of the Medoc and the Pomerol did well. Looking at the Wine Advocate, Robert Parker rates Ch. Haut-Brion, Pétrus, Ch. Latour, Ch. Pichon Comtesse, Ch. L'Eglise-Clinet and Ch. Clinet at the top, with 96 points, with Ch. Grand-Puy-Lacoste very interesting at just a point behind. Neal Martin leans just to the Right with his scoring, with Ch. Lafleur and Pétrus in the top two spots followed by Ch. Angélus, Ch. Margaux and Ch. Léoville Las Cases on 96 points. Ch. Brane-Cantenac and Calon Ségur also perform well and will be good value.

Prices remains very reasonable for this 20-year-old vintage

Despite the quality, value is good as supply remains unusually deep for a Bordeaux with this level of maturity. Neal Martin’s score of 95 points for the 1995 Calon Segur – a wine “with an enthralling sense of harmony” – looks great value. At the top end, the First Growth of Ch. Mouton-Rothschild, for example, outscores its 1996 counterpart by a point in the Wine Advocate, yet is currently trading at a lower price.

F+R view: there are excellent wines with masses of quality and character

There are highs and lows. Consistency across the board is not as high as, say, 1996, yet in 1995 it is easy to find excellent, interesting wines with bags of character. These are Pauillacs that taste like Pauillac, Margauxs that taste like Margaux and Pomerols that are classic Pomerol. If you wish, there’s plenty to explore, analyse, discuss, and simply drink.

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