Archive | 5:30 pm

Vintage: Believe the Hype -JvBUnCorked on Snooth

23 Apr

Glad to be invited to share my point of view with readers around the world on Snooth.com. The entire article can be found here, my contribution is copied below. Make sure to check out both, as my co-contributors have some brilliant insights, suggestions, and perspectives. Cheers!-JvB


Vintage: Believe the Hype/Drink or Hold-

Bordeaux, 1971

The year was 1985. The location was a sunny outdoor table on the front patio of a small restaurant that rested upon the slope of a mountain in the French Alps. The special of the day was local wild boar, and our host ordered a bottle of 1975 Chateau Latour as his choice of wine.
Chamonix
The lack of response or understanding from his guests on the bottle’s arrival prompted him to give us a quick lesson on first growth/premier chateaux and the importance of vintages, which I will never forget. Our host asked us if we knew anything about this wine, and was greeted with silence. He spoke quietly to the waiter, who had just finished removing the cork from the ’75. They had a quick exchange in French that despite my best efforts I was unable to follow, but the waiter departed and returned with two additional vintages from the same chateau: the 1973 and 1971.
 Latour 75
Our host waxed on and on about the many great vintages he had enjoyed from Latour, specifically the ’59 and ’61 vintages, as the waiter opened the other two bottles and poured tiny tastes for our host. Upon his completion of tasting the three bottles, our host then indicated an out-of-order pour: we should all taste the ’73 first, then the ’75, and finally the ’71. While I don’t recall any specific tasting notes, I do recall my response. The first bottle was very good, the second bottle was great, and the third bottle was blissfully amazing. Our host explained that these vines and grapes were treated with the same identical loving care each year but that the annual vintage would vary in quality and flavor from year to year. In his native tongue, our host asked my opinion of the wines. In my high school French I replied, somewhat haltingly, that the first glass tasted “pretty”, the second was “pretty and decadent” and the third glass had “the same beauty as all the women from the Folies-Bergere” nightclub, which elicited a spit-take and guffaw from our host. While our host dried his eyes at my youthful response to the wine tasting, his lesson made an impression on me and was fully understood.
1971
As opposed to the local “vin du table” wines we’d enjoyed previously on our trip, a first growth or premier chateau wine is something extraordinary and remarkable, but the growing year of each vintage made a huge difference – whether the vines had more rain, sun, frost or humidity – these factors, when summed together, exerted great influence on whether the wine was good, great, or extraordinary in a given year.
-Jim vanBergen,  @JvB UnCorked / jvbuncorked.wordpress.com

 

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