I’m about to enter dangerous territory here, I know, but the annual Bordeaux release is this Saturday and…I don’t care! Not only that, I recommend wine lovers stay away…far, far away!
Now, I know this borders on sacrilege for the oenophiles and wine snobs around the world. Bordeaux is, arguably, the world’s most popular and valuable wine. And this vintage is being acclaimed by all the critics – including Robert Parker, the Wine Advocate, who I follow almost religiously when it comes to other wines – as a great one. But that isn’t enough for me.
And here are a few reasons why.
First, and foremost, is style. Let me be clear – this is not a “good wine/bad wine” issue. But anyone who drinks Bordeaux on a regular basis knows that the so-called “old world” style is tipped in favour of woody, herbal flavours (instead of fruit). Add in some fairly harsh tannins for many of the wines, and it is – at least for me – not a very enjoyable drinking experience, young or old. Give me those varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, mostly) from California, Australia and even Argentina and some parts of BC instead. Wine is made of fruit, so should taste like fruit…but any of you who read this blog have heard this before.
Even putting style aside, however, there is the question of price. I picked up the 2009 Bordeaux guide and was appalled to see that the so-called best wines were in the $150+ range and up….way up, to well over $1000 a bottle for the First Growths!
Now come on! For less than $50, you can get an amazing California or Aussie Cabernet that will blow your socks off. And don’t give me the “they won’t age with all that fruit in them” argument. My cellar is full of those wines which, at 8 – 10 years old, are still stunningly fresh.
Value is another argument against Bordeaux. Even recognizing that value is a relative term (for millionaires, does it even mean anything?), I saw too many reviews that said $75 wines were “good values”.
Sorry, but for me, that doesn’t fly. Regardless of inflation or currency fluctuation, I find it hard to talk about anything over $20 being a good value. That sounds like a marketing ploy to me (and, as a PR professional, I know all about those).
Next is the argument that you are paying the high prices because Bordeaux will develop into something special. Now, on the one hand, I kind of buy into that argument, because I have lots of Rhone and Italian wines in my cellar that have handsomely repaid the $40 – $50 investment over 10 – 15 years with smooth, mellow, herbal fruit.
But my experience with older Bordeaux – and, granted, I don’t have the money to drink the First Growths – is all you get after 10 years is wood…and lots of it. The fruit (if it was ever there in the first place) is gone, and you almost need a fork to drink the wine. Again, not my style.
Last, but not least, is if you buy Bordeaux for prestige….well, then you are into wine for the wrong reason. To paraphrase a certain American president, “It’s for drinking, stupid!”. If you like the style and can afford it, then let’s agree to disagree. But if you are just doing it for show…
Okay, I’m done. Another year, another Bordeaux rant down the drain. Now if I can just keep away from those highly rated wines in the store on Saturday….