Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac, 1ere Cru Classé 1998
Easy vintage until September, when conditions in the Médoc particularly became humid, which meant accelerating the harvest (it was one of those years when Lafite benefitted enormously from its ability to ramp up a bigger-than-expected team of pickers). Salin still calls this a lunch wine, because of its supple freshness, its balance that would work so perfectly with food. The vintage was a showcase for Bordeaux on the Right Bank, where it was considered great from the start. The Medoc and Graves were less well received at the time, but are ripe for rediscovering now. This still has a lovely deep ruby red colour, and on both the nose and palate you are getting to secondary aromas, a walk in the forest, mushrooms, cedars, heather, game – these are flavours you just don’t get in young wines, and amply reward the patience of holding bottles back. The surprise, and the Lafite signature, comes in its vibrancy, in its huge persistency and in the lift on the finish.