The kaleidoscope of quality wine in market channels at any given time serves as decoy and easy distraction from the simple truth of Bordeaux’s classic performance and superior drinking experience. My cellared claret sits ignored and unmoved for long stretches of time while I uncork wines with age-worthiness generating far less confidence. The second flight of 2000 Bordeaux that signalled our group’s final blind tasting of the season was just another personal reminder of why I am devoted to wine as a beverage and lifestyle component, the rewards and excitement of laying down wines in dark cool places for extended periods, and the often overlooked imperative to actively acquire current release Bordeaux at futures or pre-arrival pricing.
Before the tasting notes, a word of over-caution and lingering disgust. All the 2000 Bordeaux I served at this tasting was acquired in the frothy, well hyped futures market for this millennial vintage (except for the magnum of Pipeau which my friend Dale graciously donated to the tasting). After investing close to $10,000 in 2000 Bordeaux with Barry Silver of Silver Spirits in St. James, NY, I only received half the order and lost about $5,000. Silver, who I had been tasting and doing business with monthly since the late 1980’s ran into personal financial trouble and overcome with greed and desperation, resold the wine he had already sold to me and others (I knew of at least $75,000 in lost investments from my personal circle of collector friends) when they finally arrived two years after we paid in full for them. Justly, he was fingered, prosecuted, convicted, and jailed. I never recovered the wine or the money and was just too disgusted with the craze of the 2000 marketplace to reenter in a large way, filling in only mildly with wines I just didn’t have the stomach to bypass. So, pick your wine monger wisely.
Back to these glorious wines. All of the wines we tasted in this flight below are listed by chateau, appellation, approximate futures acquisition price, approximate average current market price, and most recent Wine Advocate rating.
Du Tertre, Margaux $30 ($60) 91 WA
Ducru Beaucaillou, St.Julien $90 ($160) 94 WA
Calon Segur, St. Estephe $65 ($190) 94 WA
Montrose, St. Estephe $70 ($200) 96 WA
Pichon-Longueville Baron, Pauillac $75 ($210) 96 WA
Pichon Lalande, Pauillac $100 ($240) 97 WA
Pipeau en magnum, St. Emilion, $40 ($60) 90 WA
We had a really good group of palates this evening, with the usual team of local Boston enthusiasts and wine writers at the table. On this evening, these specific wines surfaced a new taster and friend, Jacques, who accompanied my friend Rene to the tasting. Both Jacques and Rene are French born first generation adult immigrants to the US, and both have carried the roots of their wine orientation along with them. While the common language of wine has knitted the wonderful and now familiar relationships with all of this evenings’ tasters, Jacques’ entry into the group was timely, considering his serious commitment to Bordeaux, drinking it almost nightly at home, steadily acquiring case loads just to keep his cellar topped with drinking wine. More than anything, he has a well trained palate that is awfully impressive. I learned more about that honed palate as we shared a couple of bottles of 1982 Bordeaux from our cellars as a follow up to this 2000 tasting, which I will share more on in a future WineZag post.
This 10 year old retrospective visit to these wines offered a monumental tasting experience and yielded 7 beautiful wines that were drinking exceptionally well now, and begged for patience pointing to even better things to come. Each one of them was truly enjoyable right now, making it really hard to ignore them in the cellar and await the rewards of anticipated secondary flavors and advancing aromas. All the wines, except for the Pipeau, were double decanted three hours prior to tasting. None were shut down or in any sort of a dumb or closed stage, and the Pichon Lalande showed the most advanced and open flavor characteristics of the bunch. As it would be, the Pichon Lalande was the favorite of the overall group. Deep purple in color, it showed an earthy, herb infused quality that was not evident in the other wines, with touches of coffee in the nose and a smooth, velvet, and elegant mouthfeel. The tannins were soft and easy, and the wine is drinking amazingly well right now. It will be hard to hold off, but there is an amazing future for the wine. The Pichon Lalande was not my favorite on this evening.
I voted the Ducru #1. The wine is a classic velvet hammer, laced with power in a package of great finesse. It has vanilla, tobacco, and cedar on the nose and followed with classic Bordeaux currant-like and plum flavors that simply rocked my palate. It has an endless finish. Montrose was my second favorite. It is a powerful and fully packed wine, with familiar lead pencil, cedar, and intense dark berry fruit flavor. The richness it delivers to the palate was the most riveting and astounding of all the wines we tasted this evening.
One of the impressive aspects of the vintage was the quality of the less notable chateaus. On this evening the Pipeau, Calon Segur, and the Du Tertre held their own in the auspicious grouping of some really top Chateaus. The Calon Segur had dusty black cherry flavoring with aromas of cocoa and plum, providing an amalgam of flavors as the wine lingered in the mouth. As with the rest of the flight, the elegance and richness in the mouthfeel was memorable. My notes are a little confused on this, but I believe the group voted the Du Tertre either second or third favorite, I had it as #4. I had the Pichon Baron at the tail end of this evening’s greatness, but you can see that Robert liked this wine best as outlined in his post at Cork’d which you can read here. I thought the wine had the lightest middle fruit, and its tannins were the least tamed of all at this stage of the wines’ lives.
Every wine in this group was a reminder of the classic qualities and greatness of Bordeaux, and the ability to buy wine, make friends with it, and enjoy its company throughout your entire life! How many living, evolving things besides friends and family can actually escort you through life to share each other’s childhood, adult and senior stages together? Our final tasting of the season was a good reminder to refocus on the advantages of regularly topping off and adding to a good stash of life long claret.