|Ah Bordeaux. There’s nothing like it. Just wiggling one of those lengthy corks out of a bottle brings much cheer. Something we’ve noticed about Bordeaux is that in spite of the usual 3 or so “Vintages of the Decade”, is that each decade yields a high-quality vintage that flies under the radar. The 2000’s were the first decade in Bordeaux history not to have an “off year”, with the 2008 being that high quality, under the radar vintage.As is customary in late January, the UGC de Bordeaux traveling junket, stopped over in San Francisco last week pouring their newly bottled 2008 Red, White and Gold Wines. It was a mad scramble last year, when the San Francisco event was canceled forcing me to take a jet ride to Los Angeles to catch up with the 2007’s. 2 lengthy flight delays and typical afternoon LA traffic got me to the tasting a little late, but all went well from that point. This year, The Palace Hotel opened their doors for the group, and in a word, the wines were stunning!
I got to the tasting early this time, waiting with 40 or 50 others for the velvet rope to be pulled away. The mob moved directly to the Pessac-Leognan wines as they were the first wines attendees were presented with. I saved that for later as I started in St. Emilion. I shook some hands and met some friends, but with each taste my impressions of this vintage were heightened and heightened. To Pomerol next, for some lush, high-toned sensational wines. Then I hit the Pessac-Leognan reds, Listrac/Moulis, Haut Medoc/Medoc, Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac and St. Estephes. I was quite taken by all of the St. Juliens as they were showing amazing weight with ripe sweet tannins and that earthy/cedary/forest floor thing I love so much. The Pessac reds were full of character, showing off the harmonious marriage of fruit and terroir. The Listrac/Moulis and Haut Medoc/Medoc wines shined as they are known to do in the best vintages. It is very difficult to make a general statement about over 120 wines; made by producers with differing terroirs, philosophies and styles, but the word “finesse” seemed to come up tasting glass after tasting glass.
Say what you want about Bordeaux. It’s comforting to know that quality, across the board, has improved to a point that a whole decade has passed with no blemishes! Every vintage is different, and collecting the wines from your favorite producers are a great way to mark the time. Especially when a vintage like 2008 comes along! – Peter Zavialoff