Vintage talk…

frenkel_wineguyI was always amazed how many of my customers over the years would seek out, hunt down, and basically sell their soul to get their hands on a particular wine vintage. 1997 Napa cabs. 2000 Bordeaux. 2002 Burgundy. Now it’s the potentially world-class 2008 Oregon pinot noir. Oy vay…

We all know that hype is hype, and fact is fact. And the fact is, shopping for vintage is a bit like rolling the dice. Wineries and winemakers can get away with murder– both in pricing and relative quality– if they have a proclaimed blockbuster on their side. I’ve seen it both on the wholesale and retail end of things. And it usually spells trouble for both retailer and consumer. Should people pay no attention to vintage whatsoever? Of course not. But to avoid and disparage “off year” vintages is silly. And more to my (eventual) point here, a blockbuster vintage in one part of the world, can be a total stinker in another.

Recently, I’ve been culling my wine collection, getting ready to move and deciding what to keep, drink, give away, etc. My wife reminded me not to covet my wine– something I feel pretty strongly about. “Drink them with friends”  I tell myself. Do I follow through with this thought? Sort of. Hey, even I have my weaknesses. But I have opened up some really nice stuff lately, and I have to say, my aforementioned schpeal on ignoring vintages gets a bit of a toss out the window here…  All hail the 2002 vintage!!

It just so happened I had a bunch of wines from 2002, and not just Oregon pinot noir, one of the better vintages there. Some of the victims: 2002 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica riesling, 2002 Sheridan Vineyards L’Orage (thank you, Steve), 2002 Caymus cab sauv, 2002 Cristom Mt. Jefferson cuvee pinot noir, 2002 Mitolo G.A.M. shiraz.

It occurred to me this morning that all these wines that I’ve been raving about to friends and family are in fact vintage specific. What a hypocrite. Or can I attribute all the beautiful balance, length, and generosity of these wines to the fact they’ve been sleeping quietly in my cellar for some time now? Probably a combination of both. Suffice to say, however, that the 2002 vintage– one that is avoided like the plague in Tuscany and parts of Southern France– is showing very well indeed in new world wines.

I mentioned the reputation this vintage has with wines from Burgundy, but good luck finding any, and if you do, take out your checkbook. Getting your greedy hands on some of this vintage from CA or WA is probably still possible, so by all means seek them out. Tell the merchant that you’re surprised they have any of this vintage hanging around- these wines must be tired by now, right? Ask them what type of discount they can offer you, invite a friend or two over, and go to town!

Did I mention I’m still here in Portland?

Cheers in ALL the years,



~ by Jared on March 19, 2009.

6 Responses to “Vintage talk…”

  1. favorite part: the picture

  2. What a vintage snob!! By the way 2002 Banfi Brunello and 2002 B.V. Tapestry are luscious as well. I too guard the good stuff like my life depends on it. And yes I feel your pain.

  3. J,
    Nothing beter than enjoying that “special bottle” with the right people. Some of my best memories were spent in the shadows of a 1998 Napa Cabernet or a bottle of non-vintage Champagne… That said, we are all searching for that perfect storm of a stellar vintage, expressive winemaking, and the right atmosphere to enhance it.

    • Hey Matt,
      Speaking of special bottles, I came across a bottle of 2001 Zeni vineyard Edmeades Zin in my collection the other day. Now I wouldn’t normally get too excited about Zinfandel, but some rock star friend of mine signed it and wished me a happy b-day. Pretty cool…

      Thanks again,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: