Any lover of a fine bottle of wine from Bordeaux can attest to the great vintages this lauded wine region has produced, and which have often equated to rather high prices. So, imagine the joy in hearing—from an authority like Robert Parker Wine Advocate no less—that there is something from the highly anticipated 2015 vintage, which was bottled and released just last year, for everyone. This report, delivered by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, editor-in-chief of robertparker.com, arrives a week ahead of schedule to aid wine connoisseurs in making informed buying decisions just as the major wines are beginning to hit markets around the world.
“So many wine lovers only seem to get excited about Bordeaux when faced with universally great or near-universally great, relatively homogenous vintages such as 2000, 2005, 2009 or 2010. Not me,” says Perrotti-Brown, the publication’s newest and first female Bordeaux Reviewer, in her introduction to the 2015 vintage. “Putting quality aside for a moment, apart from being consistent in character to the extent that they are somewhat predictable, universally great vintages nowadays are, by definition, expensive.”
She adds how she gets more excited about “the opportunities for some bargains afforded by the less universally lauded vintages that possess a good number of sparks of greatness”.
In fact, the report singles out only three stellar 100-point wines (Pétrus, Château Haut-Brion and Château Cheval Blanc) but 40 great value bargains, while also noting the wonderfully heterogeneous styles across Bordeaux's many communes. Comments Perrotti-Brown, “I don’t need to tell readers how incredibly varied Bordeaux wines are. They are especially so in 2015.”
She notes how a large amount of value can be found in wines coming out of Fronsac, Saint-Émilion (especially grand cru level), Pomerol and their satellites as well as Pessac-Léognan.
“Apart from the fact that they enjoyed a pretty much ideal growing season, it is clear that these ACs (Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée) have not been sitting on their laurels in recent years, and the amount of effort they have invested to up their games truly shines like a beacon this year,” she adds.
Bargains on great Bordeaux wines? Not surprising if you believe an abundant high-quality vintage should at least keep prices stable.
Proof Is In The Glass
It may be hard at first, but Perrotti-Brown, however, stress that readers look beyond the score and read the tasting notes. "I work incredibly hard to accurately describe the styles and, in the best cases where it applies, the signature personalities of wines to ensure that readers will understand how the wine will taste and if that taste suits their palate or occasion," she explains. "I firmly believe that greatness exists across a broad range of valid styles."
The challenge, she adds, first lie in being able to stay objective and deliver an honest review—to forget all the hype and the impetus to sensationalize in order to garner attention. She tells Singapore Tatler how it is, "our duty to deliver them honest reporting and sound buying advice; we do not give out high scores lightly or certainly 100-points".
She also points out how it is so easy to draw conclusions about a vintage by looking at weather reports and listening to winemakers, adding that while these are important factors in helping to explain why a level of quality exists within a wine, the only true measure of quality is in the glass.
"Wines can often surprise you, counter to what the weather and the winemaker say, for better or worse," she asserts. "So you can only call a vintage after you have tasted many wines and pieced together what is ultimately a very complex picture, with patterns in it, for sure, verging towards greatness or mediocrity and sometimes both."
The full report is available to paid subscribers at robertparker.com.
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