In a recent discussion regarding the 2011 vintage here at Meteor a couple weeks ago, the topic of Bordeaux came up. Winemaker Andy Erickson, who buys fruit from Meteor for one his Favia wines humorously commented during the atypical harvest "what's everyone complaining about? Go work a harvest in Bordeaux, they're like this every year- pickers have to wear masks there's so much mold flying around!"
Well this struck a chord with us, especially considering the somewhat unfairness of comparing Napa to Bordeaux in blind tastings. "Of course Napa's always going to win, our wines are made to drink earlier on release, we can irrigate etc" said proprietor Barry Schuler. Well as "luck" would have it, 2011 was a challenging vintage across the pond as well, so we decided to taste our 2011 Perseid against a 2011 Bordeaux. Just days later, Wine Spectator released it's Top Ten Wines for 2014 and lo and behold, the first to be revealed was the Chateau Leoville Las Cases, from the maligned 2011 vintage! Similarly priced to ours, the choice was clear, and so we put it in our tasting team's comparative. What became clear in this exercise, which included another 2011 Napa Bordeaux blend, was that when the wines are compared in their own category, which in this case was the cool vintage category, the wines all shined brightly, but stood as different from the typical. i.e., they were not better or worse than other vintages, just different. Isn't that what makes wine so fascinating?
By definition vintage reflects a time, which in turn allows for a different aging timeline, and yields a unique and delicious wine in its own right. This was made clear at the 2014 Napa Premiere Tasting in February, where hundreds of trade professionals tasted through more than two hundred 2012 Napa Cabernets. Yes, the much touted vintage produced terrific wines, and lots of them, but by the end of the tasting all the delicious wines tended to run together and one was left with a sense of boredom (and maybe a bit lightheadedness!). So while its easy to disparage the difficult vintages and heap praise on the easy vintages, we prefer to embrace each vintage for what it is, and trust the winemakers who truly know their craft to give us a liquid time capsule that will keep our cellars interesting and exciting….and maybe even make the WS Annual Top Ten!