This tasting consisted of each of the varietal components of Las Cases, followed by the final blend for Leoville-Las Cases. The weedy 1988 Merlot reveals a light ruby color with some lightening at the edge. Aromas of herbal tea clash with sweet fruit in this medium-bodied, high acid wine. The elegant Cabernet Franc is outstanding. It offers a medium dark ruby color, followed by a super-intense, penetrating fragrance of minerals, blackcurrants, spice, and a subtle mint note, as well as finesse. This was an impressive showing for a varietal component. The tough, backward Cabernet Sauvignon is tannic and closed, revealing muscle and strength. Tasted alone, it is nothing more than a building block for the final wine. The disappointing Petit Verdot possesses a vegetal character, astringent, harsh tannin, hollowness, and a lack of fruit and charm.
Remarkably, the 1988 Leoville-Las Cases has always been one of the most successful wines of the vintage. In this tasting it clearly outshone all its component parts. With a rich, spicy, fruitcake, cedary, cassis-scented nose, this medium-bodied, moderately tannic Las Cases offers attractive sweetness and suppleness on the palate, a well-delineated and focused personality, and a moderately tannic finish. The wine is just beginning to reveal some aromatic development. It will benefit from another 2-5 years of cellaring and will keep for 20+ years.