I am considering a new policy under which I will not buy any more red, pink or purple bordeaux within the inclusive range of 2011-2014 based on my clouded perception that life is too short for insignificant things.
Instead I will ‘re-double’ my priorities for the years 2010 & 2015. Given the massive 4 year no-touch zone, how will I survive? I am not sure yet. Only time will tell. But I will not diviate into drinking much Rhone or South to compensate because for me the spiritual harmony only comes from those crimson St Emilion barrels, the dark pomegranates of Pomerol. I am happy to drink ‘even Fronsac’ for that matter. The only pointed exclusion for me has been Castillon: I have to (discretely) force myself to drink it, but I do it sometimes out of humanitarian reasons: after all, they are ‘close enough’ to the real thing & it’s not their fault I have immutable anti-Castillon detectors installed at the factory. Believe me, life would be a lot simpler if I could just have a glass of Madam de Castillon & say ‘Yes, I can truly feel the Selbstbestimmung now’. Alas.
I will also look at vintages that predate my infatuation with bordeaux: 09, 08. It’s good to see some more exclusive nines & eights popping out all of a sudden now. They are very bad news for my bank manager though, but high streets have everything centralised now, don’t they. No more local branches where they know your name. No more friendly branch manager hinting that I have committed certain commitments that may outstretch my balance by that much. So I guess it’s ok.
The Right Bank is a bit of a mystery to me, though I have enjoyed the few entry level Pomerols and St. Es that I’ve tried. Something textural. My loss not theirs; I don’t drink enough (though probably more than Barclays Bank’s algorithms deem reasonable). The WS list looks a little thin here. I seem to remember a few cheaper wines, then a big leap in price.
We have quite a selection of ‘everyday bordeaux’ at the moment, in fact more than in previous years. But the ‘magic’ has not been there & has only began to resurface around the 2015 offerings. ‘The lost years’, I wonder?
In the left bank, 2006 - 2009 were bookended by 2005 and 2010 which were v.g. but I don’t really know through personal sustained comparative experience at the better end of the quality spectrum (because I don’t have it). I have some Batailley 2006 and 2010 in reserves. Former is ok, settling down and improving, but still needs time; as for the latter, time will tell. I have a few lost years, but that was in my twenties! The issue may be partly one of perception. If a number of years are written off, expectations may be lowered and therein can lie unexpected (and therefore heightened) pleasure.
Agree with your closing statement. '09 and '10 are obviously fantastic vintages bringing power, balance and fantastic ageability. However, it has lead people to overlook some really charming, pleasurable vintages like '12. We have a number of cracking '12s for below £15 that provide fantastic drinkability. Yes they’re not going to live forever but they’re absolutely smashing now.
This is pretty much exactly how I feel about it. That 11-14 period wasn’t marked by golden vintages by any means, and we’re slightly spoiled by just how good 09 and 10 were, but they weren’t disastrous either. Good winemakers were still producing enjoyable wines and I’ve had some really nice 12s and 13s in particular.
2013 is the only year I’ll absolutely avoid. I’ve tried a number of wines at just about all price points and they are without exception poor and most were awful.
2012 & 14 have some good wines in the lower price brackets (<£15), anything more substantial won’t be ready for drinking yet imo so is difficult to definitively judge.
2008, something of a “sleeper vintage” for me. Wasn’t hugely impressed but some of the Margaux and St.Emilion’s are really drinking well now, showing restrained class.
2005 Great perhaps, but slow. I’ve drunk a decent selection of left & right bank wines in the last 18 months, all will be better with more time, even the Pomerols. I’ve put aside my left bank 05s for another year or two at least.
'99 has also given up some nice surprises recently despite the vintage’s average classification. Langoa Barton & Gruaud-Larose were a delight. St.Julien in general seems to have done better than most other appellations in this year and low Parker Points kept prices relatively low, until recently when people started drinking these wines and discovering that Parker points aren’t everything.
‘Off-years’ are quite simply what we drink while waiting for the ‘on-years’ to come round
And you’re right - following the property/winemaker rather than the vintage gives consistency even in ‘off-years’.
Don’t overlook 2006, many great wines on both banks, that are starting to show beautifully. For me the 2006s have a bit more energy, definition and drive than 2008s, at least for now. I’ve also had some spectacular 2004s at the top of the tree include brilliant wines from Latour, Palmer and a very satisfying Pontet Canet (though heterogenous in the middle and lower reaches of the pack).
1998 right banks and Pessacs seems still good value for what they are: up there with the very best of the homogenous vintages.