Nothing makes it more clear about how important the year (the “vintage”) of a wine you purchase is, than looking at our French section of wines at ABC Fine Wine and Spirits. Many of my guests insist that the year means nothing when it comes to their favorite wine. It is true that some big brand, mass produced wines, adjust sugar levels and blends to create a consistent taste of their wines each year. Perfection is impossible because winemakers don’t control Mother Nature. In our French wine section, the same Chateau (or brand if you will) is displayed in some cases, five different slots with five different prices based on how good the vintage was for that wine. Many of my guests have come back to me after purchasing wines from our American or Australian Value sections and got home and thought something was wrong with one of the bottles of the same brand. They were ready to return the wine to the store until they realized there was nothing wrong with the wine and it was just that they picked up the same brand from two different years and the wine tasted completely different.
In Bordeaux, France, you can really use this knowledge of vintages from our ABC wine consultants because certain years serve a different purpose. For instance, a 2005 or the newly released 2009 Bordeaux are wines, that need, in my opinion, another 5-10 years before they really settle down and the tight tannins soften up. These would probably not be good wines if your plan is to purchase a wine to drink tonight. 2003,2006, 2008, on the other hand , were years that produced low yields, some warmer weather towards harvest and drink perfectly smooth right out of the gate. Your pricing is going to be more affordable in most cases on those off years. I am in love with the 2008 Chateau Feret Lambert that just arrived in our stores. They are located in a village called Grézillac just south of St Emillion and have only 11 hectares of land. The 2008 is 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and a pretty high alcohol level for Bordeaux at 14%, and rated 88 points by Wine Spectator. I bought the wine last night and I was amazed at how well extracted this lush, silky, full bodied, wine was with flavors and aromas of black cherry, currant and raspberry with a long soft tannin finish that coated my palate for over 20 seconds with dark chocolate and violet notes. When the 2009 arrives I would imagine that would be one to put away for 5-10 years. In the meantime, I highly recommend you buy the 2008 Feret Lambert at your local ABC and experience for yourself what a difference a YEAR makes!
— Guest blogger Larry Baker is the wine consultant at our Pembroke Pines store. You can read more of his writings on his personal wine blog at www.larrythewineguy.net.