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Friday, December 05, 2008

The Honeymoon is over in 2005, but Dr. Bordeaux has the Antidote.


What does one do when all the hype dies down and the wines close up? While tucked away in their slumber (as ’05 promises to be the hibernation of hibernations) they are bound to be prematurely disturbed by the impatient purchasers, or perhaps the naïve investigators that actually believe they’ll find something interesting in one of those prenatal bottles. Well, I happened to be a member of the later group, popping a few ‘05s early to ‘check in’ on the ‘greatest Bordeaux vintage ever produced,’ and while we had little expectation of fireworks, spreading our less than jubilant tales to recently bankrupt purchasers of the vintage fell on concerned ears. Welcome to the new reality folks, a reality which can be spun one of two ways:

1.) The hangover. You’ve come to the realization that you’ve squandered more money than ever imaginable on a bursting bubble that tastes ungenerous, unsatisfying and excruciatingly tannic.
2.) Look, but don’t touch. You are a seasoned Bordeaux-nut that has had his share of structured vintages, knowing the long term value of nestling away your blue-chip stocks for just the right amount of time. Let them panic, let them flip…..all the more spoils for me.

Well, things were so damn sexy in Bordeaux that there is an inevitable hangover any which way you slice it. During the boisterous ’05 campaign the critical praise couldn’t have been more universal, nor could the en premier prices have appreciated in a more resounding fashion. ’06 had to be a failure. Well, not a colossal failure, as the wines appear to be solid in terms of quality, but a ‘30% reduction in price from an already inflated baseline’ is hardly enticing, much less to a customer base that has already emaciated its funds from fattening up the Bordelais calf in ’05. ’07…yikes, the ‘score only’ vintage that didn’t even merit a tasting note? ’08 is in the bag already. Who knows if the wines were good or not? Hell who cares; everyone’s broke now that global recession is looming and we currently prefer our spirits high in volume and low in cost.

What’s happened to ’05? Great, great ’05, so great that I have to pop a cork right now, maybe two, and…ugh. I friggin’ hate tannins. Maybe critics were all wrong; perhaps they were all in bed w/ the Bordelais and conjured up the greatness on paper just so the classified growths could polish up their renovations on those glitzy Chateaus. Rats. How much egg omelet do I have on my face right now?

I’m obviously speaking on behalf of those that are inflicted w/ the great ’05 hangover. To those that have closed bank accounts and closed wines, serving up their disappointments on Riedel platters, I say do not repent. Do yourselves a favor by taking the cellar lock and throwing away the key. Be strong, be patient. If it weren’t for Heinz ketchup, claret would have snagged the tagline ‘good things come to those who wait.’ Even though styles are changing and global competition has demanded the Bordelais to make wines w/ more fruit & more immediate sex appeal, that is not the nature of ‘05s greatness (and truth be told, it isn’t the nature of any Bordeaux’s greatness). No amount of cosmetic micro-oxidation could make wines of such high tannin and high acidity early drinkers. Preservative plus preservative, aligned to hefty substance equals…yikes, algebra rears its ugly head again. Well, let’s forget all that hype and excitement. Do our best to covet those bottles without impaling them too early w/ our trigger happy corkscrews…our Bordeaux blue balls are front and center, but if the pain becomes a bit too cumbersome, always remember that 1999 therapy is only a stem away from quick relief.

People forget that this type of hype sells with a double-edged sword. If I bring back up that pesky mathematical theory again, I’d have to imagine that the Bordeaux drinker will only find balance in ’05 from hype’s opposing spectrum….uhh, non-hype. Quiet, cozy years like 1994 and 1999 may not be sexy, but go ahead, Mr. ’05 Bordeaux hangover guy, grab yourself a glass of off-vintage, the Bloody Mary of Champions, and call me in the morning. I think that afterwards, you, and your ’05 Bordeaux, will sleep just fine.

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