1990 - 25th Anniversary Reunion Dinner

Wednesday, 20 May 2015 by Stephen Browett

1990 is a special year for me. Two of my biggest passions, as some of you will know, are football (well, mainly my local team Crystal Palace FC really) and wine (well, mainly French wine really).

1990 was an absolutely wonderful vintage in France with some fabulous wines produced in all of the country’s classic wine regions. My favourite wines of the vintage include Beaucastel, Guigal, Jaboulet, Chave, Rousseau, Dujac, Trevallon, Bollinger Grande Année and just about every wine made in Bordeaux! It’s hard to pick a favourite 1990 Bordeaux but Grand Puy Lacoste, Léoville Poyferré, Tertre Roteboeuf, Roc de Cambes, Pichon Baron, Lynch Bages, Haut Brion, Trotanoy, Eglise Clinet, La Conseillante and Cheval Blanc are names that immediately spring to mind. The list really does go on and on. Most of these were delicious in their youth and have continued to give enormous drinking pleasure to this day. Along with its twin vintage, 1989 (and of course the great 1982’s) it’s the best Bordeaux vintage to drink today if you are looking for classic claret at its peak of maturity.

Stephen Browett and Thomas Parker with 5 different sizes of 1990 Bordeaux

1990 was also a great year for Palace fans. It was one of the club’s rare years in the old First Division and the only year in which we have ever reached the FA Cup Final. The semi-final was probably the greatest football match that I have ever attended. Palace were facing the mighty Liverpool who were the dominant team in English football at the that time. They won the league that year and had already beaten Palace by a record 9-0 score-line a few months earlier at Anfield. The match went to extra time and Palace won 4-3 thanks to a winning goal from Alan Pardew – who is now the manager.  The final itself was nearly as epic as the semi-final. It ended 3-3 with Mark Hughes equalising, just a few minutes from the final whistle, for Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.   That Palace team had been assembled by the great Steve Coppell from youth team players, rejects from other clubs and players from non-league. Ian Wright (from non-league), Nigel Martyn (from Bristol Rovers), John Salako (from the youth team), Andy Gray (from non-league) and Geoff Thomas (from Crewe) all went on to play for England - and Mark Bright should have done.

That FA Cup Final was played on May 14th 1990 so we thought that it would be a great idea to have a 25th Anniversary dinner exactly a quarter of a century later, to the very day. To make it even more special, we decided to serve Bordeaux wines from the 1990 vintage. As expected, the wines certainly didn’t let us down.

Prieuré Lichine 1990 (from Imperiale and Jeroboam) – A brick red / mahogany colour. Sweet and earthy on the nose with notes of tobacco and cedar. On the palate this is fully mature, complete and complex. There are forest floor notes with sweet cherry and mint. Broad and rich with classic Médoc character. At its peak now so drink up. Very fine. 16.5

Prieuré Lichine 1990 in imperiale - signed by the 1990 Crystal Palace team

Clerc Milon 1990 (from double magnum and magnum) – Fully mature colour with more fade than the Prieuré. A real cigar box nose here with classic smoke and tar aromas. Really Pauillac in style with a touch of eucalyptus, licorice, mint and mature cassis fruit. A touch of Mouton character. Fading but still a beauty. 16.5

Clerc Milon 1990 in double magnum - signed by current manager Alan Pardew and 1990 manager Steve Coppell

Armailhac 1990 (from magnum) – not quite as developed as the Clerc Milon, but still a mature-looking wine. An expressive nose of undergrowth, smoke and spice. The palate is soft and smooth with notes of leather, nuts, cassis, and chocolate. Starting to dry out a little but has earthy complexity. 16

Canon 1990 -   This is a beautifully soft, silky and creamy Saint Emilion. Not a powerhouse but there is a gentle plummy richness with touches of caramel, spice and ripe cherries. Smooth, round and easy to drink. Lovely and at its peak. 17

Rauzan Segla 1990 – The wine of the night by quite a distance. Still quite a deep colour with a dark centre. The nose is tarry and floral with aromas of dried herbs, rosemary and cedarwood. Really rich and ripe. Mature cherry sweetness here. Roasted meat, raisins and a touch of brown sugar. Ripe and silky tannins and a velvety texture. This is still impressively fleshy and opulent yet has classic Bordeaux grip and elegance to balance the exuberant fruit. Excellent. 17.5

Canon and Rauzan Segla 1990

These wines were all delicious and, at a quarter of a century old, they were drinking at their best. It was a wonderful night, superbly hosted by BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce, and it was fantastic to see the 1990 FA Cup Final team back together with their manager, Steve Coppell.

Stephen Browett with the 1990 FA Cup Final Crystal Palace team

Proceeds from this dinner went to the Geoff Thomas Foundation. Geoff Thomas was an inspirational captain of Crystal Palace FC during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and played football professionally from 1982 to 2002. In June 2003 he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and given less than three months to live. He survived and has devoted his life to raising awareness and funds for blood cancer research.  In June 2015 Geoff will cycle from London to Paris and will then cycle (one day before the race itself) all 21 stages of the Tour de France route. His aim is to raise £1m. Farr Vintners is proud to support Geoff and would ask anyone reading this to make a donation here. The following links give some background information about the charity.




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