Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bordeaux 2009 ~ It’s Complicated

Out of the hotel room at 7:30AM to meet the group I am traveling with. We have a 9:00 appointment and the rain has become “la plunge.” In Texas it’s what we call a turd-floater.

First sense is that 2009, you are no 2005. But you might resemble 1982 more than we might know. That said, I highly doubt whatever I think about the relative stability of the situation will affect the outcome- there will be buyers for these wines at whatever cost the owners think they can get. As one young technical director of a winery told me over lunch, “The Bordeaux wineries are opportunistic. If they think they can get the money they want, they will ask for it.” And seeing as it is a “niche” market and there is only so much to go around, and after all, Bordeaux is still the center of the wine world carousel that goes round and round.

The eerie similarity between 1982 and 2009 refers as much to the economic conditions that surround the vintage as the quality of the harvest. In 1982, A young Robert Parker glowed over the results and America and the world swallowed the wines up. Now the wine world doesn’t need a Parker as much it did then, although they aren’t throwing him out of the game. On the contrary, his critical acclaim can build the momentum, augment the kabuki dance to a staccato frenzy. I saw it today, ever so slightly in the halls with the young buyers from Asia. One young couple I observed went so far as to employ that mise en place as a setting for their public foreplay. Bordeaux as way to channel their unchained sexual energy – it was strange, but in today’s world where so many cultures are converging, why should it shock?

For me the shock is more the one of the economic differences between the owners and the worker bees and the disconnect between the money and the labor. It still takes a force of pickers and laborers to bring in the grapes from the lowly Cru Bourgeois to the loftiest First and Super-Second growths. But the two factors often don’t share the same societies. I see it as I go from polished chateau to modern palace. The divide is glaring - a mirror to the culture that it comes from.

Where is the opportunity for any kind of convergence? If there can be a hope it will be with the generation that is coming up – those who are inheriting this mess. From the managers who run the estates to the souls in the shops and on the floors of the restaurants, men, women, European, Asian, American. Worker bees included.

You thought you were going to get tasting notes? Please, James Suckling does notes (and scores) so much better. And Parker is preparing. Along with all the merchants and masters who are crawling all over the place in the wine world that the whole world is watching for the next few days. Or for those on the wine trail in Italy, until Vinitaly starts after Easter.

Again, not many answers, many more questions.

Again, an 18 hour day. Sorry mom, this is no vacation.


Thomas said...

Yes, Alfonso, that European socialism that we hear about in America whenever some Yahoo politician wants to rouse an ignorant group is paid for by that European feudalism that almost died a few centuries ago, but not quite.

The divide is indeed noticeable, and not just in France.

1WineDude said...

So what happened to the foreplay pics??? :-)

Alfonso Cevola said...

You aint seen nothing yet, my friend...nothin...

Samantha Dugan said...

France has always made me stammer too!

Real Time Analytics