1986 clarets – when, oh when?

The 1986 Bordeaux vintage was initially received enthusiastically. In Médoc and Graves in particular it was hailed as a 'classic' vintage, more obviously austere than the 1985s whose easy charm probably meant they were under-estimated at first.

But as the 1986s have done their time in bottle, colours have remained extraordinarily purple, and tannins have if anything become even more obvious as the fruit evolves at a snail's pace.

In general the top right-bank wines are more charming than those on the left bank for current drinking – but this is often the case. This vintage may well turn out...