Saturday, July 25, 2009

Big Glass of Hater-ade...I mean, Bordeaux, Please!

I never fell in love with Bordeaux...

Back when I was just a wine lovin' fool, I took a class at the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) in New York City. While listening to my instructor extol the virtues of fine Bordeaux, I raised my hand and made some smart-alack remark about how Bordeaux wasn't the end-all, be-all of wine. My teacher shot back something to the effect, "If one doesn't understand and adore Bordeaux, one could never truly be an expert in this field." Despite my internal temperature starting to peak, I shut my mouth. My early feeling was that Bordeaux couldn't shine Burgundies shoes and I was darn happy that everyone else loved it except me. Less people grasping at Beaune meant I would have an easier time getting my hands on it.

But I have softened my least a little. Time and experience (as well as very generous friends and colleagues) have offered me tastes of mind altering wines from Bordeaux, 1st Growths and little satellite wines alike. To me, there are two kinds of people in the world, Bordeaux people and Burgundy people. Bordeaux is regal; it's the grand-daddy of them all. I can respect that even though there definitely seems to be a "type" to the personality of a Bordeaux lover. You guys like big things...Cabernet, tannins, tooth-staining and mouth-coating wines. I completely get it! It's seductive as hell...I like to think of myself as a Burgundy guy. We're a little geeky, sorta pensive and like to speak in over-flowery language like the wine poets we are, waxing on about terroir and the soil differences between Vosne Romanee Les Beaux Monts vs. Vosne Romanee Les Malconsorts. Also Burgundy guys tend to be a bit more immediate-gratification types. Bordeaux is damn-near undrinkable in its youth (or is below) and requires 10-20 years of patience before one can experience the nirvana of Margaux. Hell, I'm a spry 40, but I don't know if I've got the stick-to-it-iveness to wait these suckers out.

And then I run across a wine like the 2004 Chateau Pape Clement Pessac-Leognan, a surpirsingly drinkable and absolutely delicious blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite being so lovable currently, this will no doubt turn into a swan in 15 years as well because of the plethora of black fruit, dark chocolate, cassis and melted licorice notes propped up by plush tannins. This wine struck me so deeply that my faith in Bordeaux has been restored, renewed and recharged. It's funny how wines can do that to you, even when you least expect it.

JCB the 4th

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