One of the things that makes Bordeaux unique among the world’s greatest fine wine regions is the ready availability of older wines of perfect provenance. All credit to the negociants, who purchase wines directly from the châteaux, then store them in temperature-controlled warehouses until we are ready to buy and consume them. And while they may charge a premium for the very best vintages, many of the merely good to very good vintages are offered at discounted prices.
In 2017, we began to see an increasing number of wines from the 2007 vintage on offer. 2007 is not generally regarded as a great vintage in Bordeaux. It was a challenging vintage in many ways, cool and humid throughout much of the spring and summer. Thankfully, September and October were hot and dry and conditions during harvest were ideal. Those that did the hard work of maintaining the health of their vineyards during the most difficult months enjoyed a successful harvest. The best wines of 2007 are quite good with surprising concentration, ripe fruit, and fine tannins. They are already drinking well at ten years of age, and should continue to drink well for the foreseeable future. Moreover, many of these wines are available at prices well below what you will pay for the greatest vintages.
Back in April of last year during the 2016 en primeur tastings, we were treated to an amazing lunch at Château Pontet Canet. They have a new banquet hall that can seat hundreds at a time. Full of members of the international wine trade, the room was abuzz with talk about the ’16 vintage in a dozen languages. It was sort of like Valhalla for Bordeaux lovers, if you got there by drinking a lot of French wine instead of dying a glorious death in battle. The wine for lunch was served blind and it was terrific, one of the wines of the trip. No one could guess the vintage, and everyone was shocked to discover it was the 2007 Pontet Canet. It had (and still has) such purity of fruit; so sweet, so ripe. Utterly charming.
Fast forward to the last full day of our trip. Another lunch, this time at the celebrated La Tupina bistro in the old city of Bordeaux. We selected the 2007 Tronquoy Lalande, St-Estephe from the wine list. We knew the Chateau well. The 2009 was a huge hit with our staff and customers, but we had yet to taste the ’07. It was the perfect pairing with our roast pigeon and potatoes cooked in duck fat. We reported back to Clyde and he quickly placed an order for the store.
Great Bordeaux vintages are justifiably celebrated. They yield prized bottles which we dutifully cellar and enjoy on special occasions. But great memories are also made by less heralded vintages. The perfect wine does not always command a premium price. A bevy of new bargains we've just received from 2007 proves it.