Probably Gonna Wish I Hadn't Posted This.... - Printable Version

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- stevebody - 03-07-2003 07:36 PM

Under the thread "2000 Vintage", I got a reply that said that our tasting of 2000 Vintage BOrdeaux at Esquin in Seattle should have been held ten years from now. Quote: "Unless you're Suckling or RP and know what to look for, you have no shot at getting anything out of them".

Jeez...Friends, this is what drives me batty about Bordeaux. Who, then, besides Suckling or RP, is going to be able to judge whether to buy the damned things? That's two of us out of 10,000,000+ wine lovers, which means the rest of us either pony up BIG dollars on the say-so of those two or we trust our own palates and miss out on great wines. My alternate suggestion: let the vintners issue the stupid things TEN YEARS FROM NOW, when a normal human can see for him or herself what the wine actually is.

I actively discourage friends, sometimes, from buying Bordeaux because, lets's face it, a lot of the lesser ones are simply wimpy crap and the better ones will have been snapped up by collectors long before we mere mortals have a chance to try them. As a chef for over 30 years, I've been complimented endlessly on my palate and my wine-trade friends say the same thing. I'm not claiming it's great but I do know what's in a flavor curve and the great mass of Bordeaux, vintage to vintage, tastes quite a bit better IF you are the sort of person who has wholeheartedly bought into the worship of the Bordeaux culture. I've been to six different blind tastings over the past ten years at which fine Bordeaux was arrayed with a ringer bottle of something else: a bottle of '90 Caymus Cab at one, a Barolo at another, a Vega-Sicilia at a third, and a Peter Lehmann Cab at another, and five times out of the six, the clear favorite was the ringer, which was ID'ed as some fabulous Chateau or another and embarrassed hell out of all the Bordeaux freaks when it was revealed (I've never seen so much back-peddaling outside of bears on unicycles at the Ringling Bros.)

The simple fact is that, yeah, probably the finest wines ever made were various Bordeaux that are whispered about in reverent tones but what is the chance that 99% of us will EVER taste one of them?

Many of my customers assume that, because I sell wine, I must love Bordeaux. I don't deliver this rap to them. I simply say that I am not a Bordeaux guy and let it go at that. We have a Bordeaux guy and he thinks I'm crazy, too. But the very notion that, in order to make buying decisions on wines, we must simply swallow hard and gamble huge portions of our hard-earned $$$ reeks of a preciousness and arrogance that even a lot of the French find hard to take.

I'm not challenging anyone's buying habits. People should spend money as they choose. But, although you're right, IK, about waiting ten years, it asks a lot of those wine lovers that might like to savor and learn Bordeaux and have the financial resources to do it (especially true here in plugged-in Seattle) to just
say, "Don't trust what you taste. Trust the Advocate and the Spectator."

I'm absolutely willing to believe that my own tastes simply haven't evolved enough to appreciate Bordeaux but I've been passionately involved in wine for over a decade and it ain't happened yet, despite tasting over 100 of the things every year. My own tastes have broadened in every other area but Bordeaux still strikes me as a lifestyle twitch and is beginning to lose its luster with younger wine drinkers who, according to James Laube in the Spectator, are starting to regard it as passe.

I may get dumped on for this and that's okay. Nothing I ain't heard before. But the leap of faith involved in saying that we should taste the things "ten years from now" means that SOMEBODY -0 you, me, Esquin - has to BUY the stuff and ride out the taxes and space demands in order to have...what? I think the wines MUST be judged on their merits and potential NOW, by each taster, and those who trust Suckling and RP should. The rest of us...we may just think they're not very good.

- hotwine - 03-07-2003 09:01 PM

If we waited 10 years while someone else provided the controlled storage, the prices really would be out of sight when the wines were finally released. I don't buy a lot of Bordeaux, and none of the first growths for the last few years. But those with educated palates are saying "buy" for the 2000 vintage, and that's enough to spark my interest in snagging a few bottles. In my 40 years of wine enjoyment, Bordeaux is still without equal, the wine I would drink morning, noon and night, if I could afford it.

- Botafogo - 03-07-2003 09:38 PM

I am gleelfully hoping to see a massive trainwreck in the market when the two giant forces of "2000 Bordeaux, Vintage of the Century" and "Let's boycott the G^&%MN Frogs" collide later this month.

We rarely sell ANY Bordeaux but I would love to sell some for their intrinsic value instead of the "value added" premium brought on by Mr. Parker.


- Glass_A_Day - 03-07-2003 10:13 PM

Whatever. These guys are known around the world. They are respected and I trust them. You think you know more, get out there and start your own magazine and forget this little ol' board. Some times it's ok to check your ego and admit that you don't know everything and trust those who know more. Just because you can throw a burger on the grill doesn't make you a world renouned chef. That's ok! You don't need to be. When you want a 5 star experience, you eat out. Lighten up guys. A wise man realizes how little he knows.

- winoweenie - 03-08-2003 09:23 AM

I happen to be mostly on SBs' side in this shoot-oput. As stated in my previous post on this here question, I've only actively purchased 2 vintages of Bordeaux in the last 33 years...82 and now the 2000. In that same period I've only failed to stock my cellar with Calif offerings in 71, 72, 81, 83, 88 and 89. The 82 Bordeauxs' were so atypical I found myself thinking I was drinking Napa cabs from the 2000 vintage that had time to get their terrior, and vinifying skills in place.I can say without reservation I drank and enjoyed over 80 cases of that marvelous vintage and still have some of the juice in the cellar. Don't know which bottles you drank Steve but out of 12 petite chateaus I've tried so far, there are 4 I've bought for the cellar. From my limited Bordeaux experience I'm sure the 2nd thru 5th growths I've bought plus the 2nd labels of the 1st growths will deliver the goods. I've done the blind bag shot on hundreds of tastings when I lived in Colo and had the same results as you. Another reason I went heavy on the 2000 is I can't think of a 30 buck calif cab that will stack up in 10 years with a 2000 Carrudes de Lafite.WW ( A Confirmed Califphile )

- Glass_A_Day - 03-08-2003 10:31 AM

Maybe, I'm mistaken. I thought SB was saying not that he didn't like Bordeaux, but that he didn't like the fact that it was hard for the average wine enthusiast to taste for quality at the early stages of cellaring. Whether or not anyone likes Bordeaux is not my point. If you like it great. If you do not, that's fine too. My point is that with this type of juice, you may need an expert opinion to help you in your buying. That's all I'm saying. Not that Bordeaux is good or bad or better than any other wine out there. That is all opinion. I just happen to trust a couple of guys who have been paid to give this advice for some years now. If most didn't agree with them, they would not be where they are today. You however, don't have to. [img][/img]

- Thomas - 03-08-2003 02:41 PM

Getting lathered up about the future potential of a vintage seems to me a waste of energy. There is so much great wine out there ready to drink with tonight's dinner (or, as in Roberto's case, tonight's squeeze).

Maybe we should wait ten years for the right cut of beef to go with vintage 2000!

- hotwine - 03-08-2003 04:34 PM

Nope, the best beef is kinda like moonshine, IMHO.... chill it for just a few days, and it's just right.

- Glass_A_Day - 03-08-2003 04:46 PM

Like I said, if you don't want it, don't buy it. Personally, I do so I did. I still thought this post was about the buying process not the wine itself.

- stevebody - 03-09-2003 12:43 PM

Yeah, my gripe here was with the buying process, aside from the cynicism of the
%$#@##! Frogs who, for generations, have traded off our awe of their best wines when pedalling their lesser ones.

I'm not suggesting that anyone NOT buy the 2000. All I'm saying is that, despite the unanimity of opinion of the Spectator, RP, Tanzer, et al, I've run into a lot of average Joes who don't agree and that sort of opinion should be weighed into the mix on judging a vintage of anything. Opinions of people who actually BUY Bordeaux - instead of having it shipped to them gratis for review -are very telling and those folks I've talked with, some of whom have truly MASSIVE collections of Bordeaux, mostly don't think the 2000 is all that hot. In the final analysis, what will determine the $ucce$$ of this vintage is whether people BUY it or not. I misattributed the quote from the Spectator about Bordeaux becoming passe. It was Matt Kramer, not James Laube. But the sentiment is the same: Tons of my customers are starting to stand less in awe of Bordeaux and more in avid pursuit of Barolo, Barbaresco, high-end Cabs, Grange, Hermitage and Cote Rotie, and other, more adventurous wines. There WILL come a time when the Bordeaux producers may wish they had cared more about making their wines more immediately decipherable and less about their own vaunted market stature. French vintners who dare to espouse such thoughts are routinely villified as traitors to France but their voices surface from time to time, anyway. I'm not the only one who sees Bordeaux futures as only a marginally acceptable risk and the numbers are growing.

- Bucko - 03-09-2003 02:41 PM

I purchased Bordeaux in 82, 86, 88, 89, 90, scattered 95, 96 & 98, and 2000. I have never regretted a purchase because I buy by the house, not someone's numbers. I look at what Tanzer has to say on occasion, but that is about it.

I also just purchased 3 cases of the off year, 1997, at bargain basement prices. While not stellar wines, the QPR blows away most of the world's reds.

I'm also quite embarrassed by the American's attitude towards the French. They have a right to express their world views just like any other country. It seems that many Americans believe that we are the only ones with the right answers. Well guess what, we're not.

- Glass_A_Day - 03-19-2003 06:55 AM

I take no issue with their wine, but as far as the French themselves, I think the next time someone invades them, we should let them have it.

- wondersofwine - 03-19-2003 09:52 AM

I think Joey posted that the French themselves are not so gaga over the 2000 vintage as the Americans. I ordered six bottles of a lesser Bordeaux that received good initial reviews (I do depend on expert opinion somewhat when I'm over my head/experience level with a wine). I won't go chasing over additional bottles until the clamor settles down (or maybe never). I'm more into burgundies and other regions anyway.

- Kcwhippet - 03-19-2003 10:18 AM

Way back in the 60's and early 70's I used to buy a lot of Bordeaux, but not lately. Now there are too many other wines that are more appealing to me. We have only 6 bottles in the cellar now out of about 400.