This week Robert Collins is flying low over the villages, vineyards and vintages of Burgundy.
VINTAGES : NOT JUST A NUMBERS GAME!
Does it add up? Sometimes you are trapped when you try to reduce life’s experiences to a CFO’s balance sheet. Behind the vintage are many emotions, and your wine can reflect much more than harvest arrivals.
I like to look at the whole experience when blessed with the opportunity given me with a resourceful wine. Let’s take two years, 1969 and 2017.
Recently I reflected on 1969… A wild year of my life. I found myself in the former French Indochina, [Vietnam] where profound changes occurred. A combat photographer challenged on many fronts in the middle of a terribly divisive conflict both there and at home, questioning the nature of humanity, moral responsibility, and my own future.
1969 was a powerful vintage in the other France, Burgundy. The week I returned from Saigon was the same week of the Hospices de Beaune auction… you can imagine the memories evoked two weeks ago when my only bottle of 1969 Volnay Hospices, Cuvee Blondeau from Bouchard Aine, was opened.
It reaffirmed my contention that the vintage put its best foot forward in the Cote de Beaune. Best Volnay, electric fruit ,complex distinctive robe, and celebrated long finish. It was a long time coming. Worth living 50 years to experience! I am unable to place this in a ratings context.
Your own cellar contains wines that expand past the jargon of reviews. Youthful or mature, make your cellar as big as your life, without limits. Vintages are often compared to each other, the truth is that they are all unique. The permutations are endless, like a grand chess game. That bottle you bought is the product of complex analogies, a marriage of your experiences and of those in Burgundy. Have a conversation.
The recently completed decade is awash with dialogs. Some of my favorite bottles are not expensive, to witness this. My favorite ongoing treatise include a 2017 Rully premier cru rouge, that challenges me with each bottle. A much more lively debate than my bottles of 2016 Clos Vougeot. The Grand Clos may offer some sage advice at an appropriate future date, but at the moment is reclusive. 2017 was my chance to revisit the Hospices auction weekend with a very old friend, our wine experiences going back 48 years. Part of my 2017 stories are now our stories, and Givry is integral. Life was much more mellow in 2017 than 1969, but always just as eventful.
So one is mature, one is just starting out. Which has the higher number? You see the point. Recent vintages have produced wonderful experiences. Reading Steen’s notes, don’t disregard the commune wines from your experiences, the appellation caste is much more compressed in these vintages. Broaden your conversations, I find some of my best interactions are within appellations that are distinctive and somewhat unknown. Key is a dedicated artisan in the cellar, more abundant than in the recent past.
No better time to create your own stories. Enjoy the wealth. ###