Does anyone have any examples where they feel that the wine society has released wine for sale (not EP) that is not nearly ready to drink?
Of all merchants I think the wine society is pretty good in this respect on the whole.
This is subjective and I get that a wine should be available to buy from the start of its drinking window, but do you have any examples where you think a wine is released too early and where broaching it is a waste of It’s potential?
Well, if you think a 2009 is too young (and I’m not disagreeing)…
If you were to actually cost deliberately holding wine to sell 15 years after it’s made, once you factor in storage/insurance costs and a plausible cost of capital for a business (say 5%), a £20 bottle looks more like £55 (OK, I’m guessing 60p per bottle per year storage/insurance cost), and I don’t know how much extra in terms of risk of returned bottles.
I guess I wonder how much of the wine market depends on people like us not really thinking about or calculating the true cost of our wines.
I know they occasionally put older stuff on the market, but didn’t realise it was “quite often” held for a year or two.
Even so, a year or two does not get anywhere near the 10 years often thought of as needed for a decent Claret, or the 15 that I use as a rule of thumb for a good Barolo.
OK, I know some would drink them younger, but some would keep them longer too. So, yes, personal taste is important. I would also add that I would not see releasing “too early” as something to criticise TWS for. It is common practice, for reasons given by @NW_passenger
Personally I think it would be unreasonable for the TWS to wait ‘until the wine is ready.’ As others have said that is very subjective. There are a number of wines I have seen TWS selling before they’ve even entered their own drinking window.
So I think the important question isn’t when they sell it but the drinking window they give it. But, of course, this is equally subjective; for example, in my view, most of the Bordeaux costing more than around £15 has it’s opening date set too early, but I like maturity in my wines. On the other hand last autumn I bought the ‘Taste of Bordeaux 2018 Vintage’ which was all lower priced Bordeaux wines that were only a year old and designed for early drinking. And those I’ve already had were just lovely and a bit of an eye opener, although a very different drink to my more normal Bordeaux.
So I consider that TWS mostly get it right(ish) and each member must figure out what suits them. For me that mostly means I don’t open a wine until it is well into the TWS drinking window and I’m generally happy to leave a more ‘substantial’ wine well after that window, at least for the more expensive wines. The lower cost ones I’m generally happy to tuck into as soon as I receive them.
Either way it is better than some merchants like Majestic who frequently (always?) don’t give a drinking window at all.
@SteveSlatcher - I don’t know about all wines, but I collect Kanonkop Pinotage and TWS holds it back. For instance they are currently selling 2016 vintage. Majestic were selling the 2017 vintage in January.
2015 was available from Majestic in May 2018, TWS didn’t sell it until June 2019, over a year later, and by my reckoning TWS , if it sells a vintage, sells it 2 years after it is release by the winery.
Does it matter? Isn’t it better that TWS keeps it till it gains a bit more bottle age?
Not IMO, for two main - linked - reasons: first is that TWS is sells it for less than Majestic, and the second is that one cannot be certain that TWS will sell that vintage. It never sold the 2012 vintage.
So either one gambles and holds on in the hope that TWS will release it, or one buys from Majestic at a higher cost.
And the third reason is that TWS loses my custom to Majestic
To add to what @peterm just said, you could add minor clarets to the list - the Society appears to hold some of them back until well after other merchants have offered them.
But isn’t the issue here not “offering something too early”, as the question alludes to? Isn’t it rather not disappointing buyers but trying to delight them? We are clearly not talking about the everyday wines category, which for the most part are actually made for immediate drinking. Nor are we talking about the heavy hitters such as cru classé clarets, vintage ports etc. which demand cellaring.
But in between those categories there is much which would benefit from some ageing. I’m thinking here of a wine I brought back from the upper Agly valley a few years ago. Is was pretty hard work when I bought it, but it seemed to me to have a lot of potential. It only took a year to start unfurling itself. The society must have loads of experience in this sort of thing. If you know the wine is going to be so much better, then why not sit on it for a limited time? Of course there will be the costs involved as already mentioned, but your reputation as a merchant should be enhanced. It’s a business decision whether to take the punt.
I think that this happens on a regular basis, but I will not critisise the Society for doing so.
One factor is the members personal preference, where some enjoy the “massive” attack of primary flavours that some wines have. Others, may prefer a more developed bottle, so there is no winning here.
One tactic that I employ, is having bought - say a half of Thalabert, and by “playing” with it can see the potential the wine has over some days, is to then buy a case. I really enjoy tracking the wines development over some years, from for some members - virtually undrinkable, to the point where it is all that I had hoped that it would be.
Reading some members reviews bears out the very wide spectrum of tastes that resides within the membership.
Take me for example, I despise Riesling with a passion, without a scintilla of wriggle room!!
I also do not like the flavour of grapefruit! And any Champagne that demonstrates a strong lemon character, is lost on me.
And I readily appreciate that there are members who will adore what I dislike.
This range of tasting preferences with regard to wines “released too early” can be a vinous educational challenge for others.
We are a very diverse range of members with respect to tasting preferences, the job of the Society to deal with us, to my mind is an impossible task.
The fact that they manage to keep us all happy, is testament to policies that take the vagaries of the members preferences on board, and their unfailing good humour.
I salute them!!
A drinking window with the wine is a good guide. However experience tells me this is just that - a guide. For example at the 2018 Bordeaux en primeur tasting the Leoville-las-Cases was possibly the best claret I have ever tasted. Recommended drinking from probably 2030 at the earliest. So at my advanced age I will be delighted to have mine soon so that I can start to have one a year! (even though the '86 is drinking nicely now and the '96 I had four years ago was closed. Must try again soon). Also I do think there is sometimes a short window before a wine closes down, as an example, vintage Port - the 2011 comes to mind. So, a drinking guide is useful, but not to sell outside that would mitigate against personal choice. Caveat Emptor!
I’ve enjoyed this wine over a few days and you get a ‘micro-evolution’ snapshot - very 2009 on day 1 - ripe and generous, but becoming far more classic and mineral by day 3. Certainly enjoyable now and very informative to try. Displays all the Chave elegance.
I had a 96 Las Cases which was fabulous in 2008. Hopefully they will eventually re-open! I’m remembering 1975…
I think 2000 Montrose was open for a while around 2012, but a recent one was closed.
But there again maybe it is bottle variation as thy were from different sources.
Cahors, Clos Triguedina 2016 - to my taste in anyway released far too early (window to 2028), and now being discounted to clear! so an excellent opportunity to buy a few and put them to one side for several years to mellow.
However, others might prefer Cahors young and brash. So I havn’t a problem with TWS treating us like adults who can make up our own minds regarding ‘ready to drink’ - and if you dont like it, you get your money back. So TWS is being more than fair in my opinion ?