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Whatever Happened To Old Wine Week and the Very Mature 1982 Labégorce Zédé


My postings over the last week have been somewhat erratic.  I had intended to write about the variety of older red Bordeaux, Sauternes, and Vintage Port we have recently tasted for an Old Wine Week series.  Early in the week while conducting research for a historical post I came across Sir Ferdinando Gorges’ comment about the Popham colonist’s wine.  I redirected all of my efforts because I felt this was an important discovery.  In a way I still kept with my theme because the 1607 vintage does quality as old wine.  Unfortunately this meant I had to suspend working on posts about wines which I have actually drunk.

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I had it in mind that I had drunk a bottle of Chateau Labégorce Zédé during the summer of 1997.  My mother and I were in England for one month during which we spent one day in Bristol.  We had purchased a bottle of wine from Harveys then grabbed some luncheon ingredients in Clifton so that we could have a picnic by the Clifton Suspension Bridge.  My memory failed me.  In reviewing the Harveys Wine List it appears we bought the 1994 Chateau Labégorce which sold for £124.95 per case.  The description reads, “Preferred in this vintage to its neighbour Zédé.  Nicely full and rounded but balanced and with non-agressive tannins.”  From the same year, The Fine Wines of Justerini & Brooks in London lists many vintages of Chateau Labégorce Zédé: 1995 at £132 per dozen, 1994 at £13.50, 1992 at £11.50, and 1988 at £16.50.

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The original estate dates back to the La Bégorce family in 1332.  The estate was split in 1795 with this portion being named Labégorce Zédé after owner Pierre Zede who purchased the estate in the mid 19th century.  Luc Thienpont took over the estate in 1979 and applied much advice from Emile Peynaud.  The estate consisted of 36 hectares, 27 in Margaux, and 22 next to the chateau.  The vineyards are on deep gravel soils with increasing clay content.  There were old vines in existence with the Cabernet Franc dating back to the 1940s and some Petit Verdot several decades older.  Luc Thienport set about improving drainage and canopy management.  In 2009 Labégorce Zédé merged with Labégorce Margaux so it no longer exists.  I knew this bottle would be fully mature or on its downslope when I bought it.  But as I had memories of Bristol I decided it was worth the purchase.  It was.  This bottle was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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1982 Chateau Labégorce Zédé, Margaux –
Imported by Calvert Woodley.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot sourced from vines averaging 25 years of age.  It was aged 14-18 months in approximately one-third new French oak.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The color was a light to medium brick garnet which looked quite old.  After one hour the nose revealed fresh, minty red fruit with lots of wood box aromas.  In the mouth the flavors were very mature with hard cherry fruit, albeit short, greenhouse notes, acidity, and fully resolved tannins.  ** Now.

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