Halfway through the first day of tasting barrel samples of the 2007 vintage of Bordeaux earlier this month, I allowed myself a purple-lipped smile and thought, "These wines are actually quite nice drinking wines, if not necessary wines to put away for your children." Assuming you have children, and assuming you would want to lay down wines in your cellar for their future enjoyment.
I did not get to spend a full week at the primeurs or en primeur tasting this year in Bordeaux as I did in April 2006 when I was tasting the marvelous 2005 vintage. But as I don't normally rate wines, and thus don't have to be all-inclusive, I was quite happy to sample through a hundred or so samples from the top growths to wines that are occasionally sold on futures (cheapest prices, but no pre-nuptial sampling of the wares) to those never sold on futures.
A few observations:
1. If these wines weren't compared to the supervintages such as the 2005s, we would all quite happily be talking about how drinkable the reds are -- excellent fruit, plentiful tannins, generally good balance. At their best, they are fruity up front and lean in the finish, the way a good Bordeaux with a bloody piece of beef should be. And that's what'll you'll get when they start appearing on the market over the next couple of years. Best time to drink for most will be in the first half of the next decade -- 2010 to 2015.
2. That is not meant to mean they cannot age. The ones that are in good balance will be drinking well for years past 2015.
3. The top crus that I tasted -- Ausone, Margaux, Cheval Blanc, Lafite, Haut-Brion -- were all very, very good, though none up to their 2005 standards. Although Lafite was close. Margaux needed a little more complexity, and Cheval Blanc had a green note, something I like, but which most writers liken to a pimple at the tip of an exquisite nose.
4. If you like Bordeaux blanc, prepare to go wild. All the whites I tasted were fabulous, and the 2007 Pavillon Blanc from Margaux is to die for -- or at least buy at the inflated euro rate.
5. Among the Super Seconds reds, I found a place in my heart, and perhaps even in my checkbook, for Palmer and Vieux-Chateau-Certan.
6. Bargains could be Lagrange and Issan, both wines that I have followed through the years because I know the people there. Both made wines perhaps even better than their '05s.
7. Wines that went wrong reflected the rainy weather and early lack of sun last year, which resulted in under-ripe fruit. And a few winemakers over-extracted.
At the end of the day, or at least the end of the week, I decided not to immediately factor into my deliberations the euro/dollar exchange rate, the American dis-economy, or the 2008 election. I'll think about those Scarlettish topics when the pricing campaign is over and the future prices appear in a few weeks on my computer doorstep.
Until the next time...