For 25 years, the comparison/contrast of these back-to-back great vintages has been fascinating and the opportunity to taste them side by side at prime maturity in Louisville was irresistable. The very gracious staff at L and N Wine Bar provided great glassware and a super environment for the study. James Sichel of Chateau Palmer and I flew in from Cleveland where we tasted the same two vintages (and others) the previous evening at Paul Minillo's Baricelli Inn.
(All bottles direct from the Sichel cellars in Margaux).
In both cities about 25% of the tasters favored the '82, as would be expected by followers of the Margaux appellation. One might generalize that 1982 is a benchmark vintage but in Margaux in particular, the ’83 is favored, especially in the United Kingdom. In the past the comparison was one of a full-blown or over-the-top ’82 versus a classic, right-down-the-middle ’83. The Louisville event showed an ’82 that is beginning a graceful descent toward senility while the ’83 is currently brilliant and hanging quite well. Noted Palmer lover Tom Black of Nashville attended the Louisville tasting and it would be instructive to read his take on the ’82 & ‘83’s at this stage of development for a broader perspective.
If I had to say it, the 1983 Palmer still showed a solid, deep, deep garnet-nearly black core visually with that telltale whiff of saddle leather suggesting a quarter century of development. On the palate, a slightly gravelly entry gave way to reassuring plum and dark fruit with a light magnolia air evident…
As stocks dwindle and the opportunity to compare fades, I’ll always remember this opportunity to experience these brilliant examples once more… especially in the company of new and old friends.