In a commitment to balance and honesty, which are two great aspects of fine wine I might add, this post picks up where yesterday's left off. Namely, at the assumption that vintage can tell you more about how a specific sort of classified wine will evolve than the wine's vineyard. Although a valid statement, it could be more balanced and honest. Here goes...
I came up with yesterday's conclusions after taking notes on a 2002 Chinon and a 2002 Chablis, each one produced from a less-than-prestigious (strictly generic) terroirs within their respective appellations.
Drawing these conclusions made me think of my old friend Fred (from France) who smartly announced that he preferred a grand cru as he contemplated the wine list of Villejuif pizzeria in the outlying suburbs south of Paris. You might say, well Fred, who wouldn't prefer a grand cru? But what would you prefer it to? Would you prefer it to an inexpensive Rosso di Montalcino from 1997? After all, it's no 97 Brunello or anything. But going for the greatest prestige does have its downsides.
A) We couldn't afford it, and even if we could, B) would we want grand cru with pizza? Wouldn't a generic bottle from a landmark vintage, say 2001 along the shores of the Mediterranean -- Languedoc to be precise -- be a wiser choice?
Yes. I thought so then and I thought so yesterday. But now today... now I'm not so sure.
I love AOC Coteaux du Languedoc wine and it really shone in the year 2001. I loved the trusty Famille Jeanjean product called Château Valoussière, which is definitely what I would consider a value wine, in practically every vintage I tried. The 1998, 1999, 2000 -- I admired them all immensely. You would assume the 2001 version would be the cherry on top of the cake.
But it wasn't. It was average. Perhaps even below average. As if the winemakers were dealing with yields off a strange new tract of land that made wines paling in comparison to even lesser vintages. It seemed to show that provenance trumps vintage. This wine wasn't necessarily evolving at all, despite its timely credentials. I opened in mid-way through 2006. I likely should've opened it long ago. Vintage chart be damned!
Château Valoussière Coteaux du Languedoc 2001 (pictured above) - Not as memorable as previous vintages which is a particularly disappointing thing to say for any 2001 Languedoc, even one priced at $14. **