I was fortunate to be invited to the Weekend of Grand Amateurs tasting in Bordeaux this past month, and while I do indeed look forward to tasting the much-heralded 2009s in such a format, this year's focus was the less acclaimed -- and often maligned -- 2007 vintage.
2007 is a vintage defined by its weather, in more ways than one. Not only does the vintage show many signs of the conditions that year, but its reputation was firmly established well before the harvest. The summer of 2007 was not one that brought much joy to France. It was cold and wet -- very wet, in fact.
But not all was lost. The year began with the hottest April on record, and ended with 64 days of uninterrupted sunshine, but what happened in between left its indelible mark on the vintage. June, July, and August all brought damp, cold, dreary conditions to Bordeaux. By late in the summer the media had essentially declared the vintage a dud, and the die was cast.
So, is it a dud?
Moulis: A 2007 High PointWhile I always recommend sampling the wares of the Petits Chateaux, as they are generally a great source of values, I think there is a greater likelihood than ever of finding gems in a vintage like 2007. Some of these wines can sometimes take on a rustic character which is often attributed to the more primitive winemaking facilites many of these producers use. In an effort to tame their rustic quality, it is not unusual for these Petits Chateaux to seek to produce a lighter style of wine -- a style that is ideally suited to a vintage like 2007.
I have always been partial to the wines of Moulis, and from my tasting it appears that Moulis is one of the strong points of the 2007 vintage. This less famous appellation sits rather far back from the Gironde esturary, northwest of the Margaux appellation. It is rather well-known for its stable of over-performing Petits Chateaux, and I am thrilled to be able to make two of them my standout picks of this email!
2007 was a vintage marked by cold weather, and thus retarded vine development, until the very last weeks of harvest. So what does that really mean? In basic terms, it means that the grapes were set to produce wines that are high in acid, some what vegetal and green (particularly the unripe tannins) and not very generous overall.
And in fact there are quite a few wines that show elevated levels of acidity, and I am an acid freak, so if I think a wine is too high in acid, well, you are forewarned! Other wines showed some hard, green tannins, while a few wines were shrill, and several were dominated by herbaceous notes.
So then, 2007 is a vintage to avoid, you ask? Well, it might be (there’s that pricing issue again), but there were also many lovely wines made that I am happy to recommend. There were essentially 2 keys to success in 2007. The first was patience, and to a certain extent luck. Producers who waited out the harvest were rewarded with riper fruit, naturally, but there are some vineyards that are just better sited and were able to shine in a vintage like 2007.
The second key to success in 2007 was to produce a wine dictated by the style of the vintage and not visa versa. This will always be a vintage that is lighter, delicate, and easily-termed classic, though that is also a sneaky way of saying lean and ungenerous in certain circles (but let’s ignore that for now). In fact, this is a perfect place to take a break and take a look at my notes on the 2007 Petits Chateaux. I'll pick up here in next week's installment, when I analyze the right bank and how it performed in 2007!
Read my 2007 tasting notes, after the jump.