With all the clamor and attention some vintages get it’s a wonder that wines unfortunate enough to come from so-called off-vintages ever find a home.
So, are people just happy drinking wines that the experts have judged to be mediocre, or is there more to this story? Can it be that wine critics, and their approach to tasting, give a skewed result that may not serve their audience?
Well, yes it could be.
In fact, this distortion is never greater than when it comes to Bordeaux. One of the great attributes, valued inordinately by critics and collectors alike, is the ability of Bordeaux’s wines to improve in the bottle. That ability to age is a factor that plays right into the ratings for vintages, and specific wines that move the U.S. wine market. If you're not a collector, but simpy love Bordeaux, you might want to skip the entire pedantic discussion of vintages and dive right into EnjoyBordeaux.com where you can learn more about the wines of Bordeaux.
For so many of us the discussions and critism of wine are more than we might want to deal with. Having a direct line to someone who can answer your questions about Bordeaux is all we really need, not too much to ask, now is it?
Well, no it isn't.
EnjoyBordeaux.com has their rotating roster of experts known as Le Wine Buffs! This week you'll have 6 chances to learn morea bout Bordeaux wines, and get your questions answered, by some of the greatest and most knowledgeable lovers of Bordeaux. Go ahead and explore what makes a great vintage with Le Wine Buffs. They'll be happy to share their thoughts about their favorite vintages with you.
When you look at the criteria used to determine what makes a great vintage, age-worthiness is also prominently featured, if in off-hand ways. This is but one of the ways professional wine criticism breaks down. Almost all wine, and that includes Bordeaux, is consumed within hours of purchase. Why should we value age-worthiness then? Well, in fact we shouldn’t, except in a few cases.
The only times we as consumers should be focused on the hype behind the “greatest” vintages is when we are buying wines for our cellar, or pulling aged wines out of our cellars. In all other cases we should be more aware of each vintage’s style, and approach wine with an open mind that can classify vintages by style rather than by some very subjective qualitative ranking.
The simple fact of the matter is that many vintages deemed simply average on release produce wines that are, in fact, charming on release, ideally suited to be paired with a wide variety of foods, and affordably priced. Every lover of Bordeaux should discover the values that lie within these overlooked vintages. The moment when you realize that not only great vintages produce great wines is the moment you are free to follow your own palate! It’s a cathartic moment and one that must be experienced.
Over the past two decades, Bordeaux has benefitted from ever richer, riper, and more consistent vintages. To many people this richness is what has made Bordeaux better, while many other wine lovers lament the passing of a more elegant style. The trick for those people is to look toward vintages that have been passed over by the rich-fruit-loving critics.
One of the most fascinating things to watch in the wine world is the changing reputation of vintages. So often those lean, ungenerous vintages actually are later recognized as the elegant and complex wines that they always were. In addition to a love of large-scaled fruit-driven wine, most critics today simply taste wines, and many wines at a time. Who does that?
Wine is generally enjoyed over the course of a meal, of hours spent in conversation. Every good wine changes and evolves over time, and with each sip. The bold fruit of the first sip might just be the tiring, cloying tenth sip. There is something about an elegant wine that makes it easy to miss its charms if you spend only a few minutes with it, yet over time it seduces you, stimulating all your senses with its restrained complexity.
So, what Bordeaux vintages should be top on your list? That, of course, depends on what style of wine you love. It’s more important to learn the style of the vintages than whether they are “good” or “great.” Take a look at our vintage chart for a handy reference guide that can help guide you to discovering which Bordeaux style you enjoy, and which vintages will make you the happiest. Click here for the Bordeaux vintage chart.
And for more information don't forget to visit EnjoyBordeaux.com, where you can learn more about the story of Bordeaux, discover great food and wine pairing guidelines, and find the Bordeaux wine that is right for you! Take advantage of the full range of resource EnjoyBordeaux.com offers and don't forget to check the Le Wine Buffs schedule to see when you can have all your Bordeaux wine questions answered by an expert!