When Vintage Doesn’t Matter

On Thanksgiving Day, my husband brought home a bottle of Nuits St. Georges 2005. For those who love Burgundy, you may understand that this is a wine made from Pinot Noir from the southernmost appellation in the Cotes de Nuits from a superb vintage. If you don’t know Burgundy, you know three facts now.

We also went into our small wine stash and uncorked a bottle of Bourgogne Rouge from the 2004 vintage. For those who love Burgundy, you know we opened a bottle of Pinot Noir sourced from vineyards all over the Cotes de Nuits and Cotes de Beaune from a very good year. For those who may not know Burgundy, think California Pinot Noir versus Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara or Gary’s Vineyard Pinot Noir in Santa Lucia Highlands.

So, the tasting began with what may seem like a no-brainer, but ended differently than one may have expected.

The 2004 Bourgogne was soft and elegant with lovely traces of cherry fruit and hints of smoke and wild mushrooms. On the other hand, the 2005 Nuits St. Georges was full-bodied (for Pinot, at least) with modest tannins and lots of burnt berry flavors combined with some tar. Both wines were interesting, but only one seemed approachable and delicate.

Just from my descriptions of the two wines, I am sure you can guess that the Bourgogne 2004 was the winner. What am I suggesting in this brief blog? By no means that I would argue that 2004 is a superior vintage or that a regional appellation is better than a more specific one.

My point is, is that all wine is alive and all wine is very different. Sometimes, wines are better than others because of when they are consumed. Sometimes wines need more time, sometimes less.

If the buyer collects only the trophy wines from the best years, they might be very disappointed when opening these wines in their youth. Remember, wine is human, it has spirit.

Sometimes, it pays to buy wines that are drinking better right now. They may not have the most cellar-appeal, but they will please the immediate crowds that are sitting around your dinner table tonight.

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