Well it’s certainly interesting to compare the best and the worst that Bordeaux has offered in the past decade within a few weeks of each other. If October 2011’s Union des Grands Crus 2009 tasting showed the impressive heights to which red Bordeaux has recently soared, then November 2011’s Master of Wine Institute’s tasting of the 2007 vintage showed the decades lows. To be fair what was actually most surprising was how the latter vintage has turned out. Tasted after bottling two years ago, I think you could safely say you’d find more joy in a Trappist monastery than in a glass of 2007 red Bordeaux. Moreover these were wines released in 2008 at such high prices for the quality that much cheaper thrills could easily be found elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, two years down the track and 2007 Bordeaux remains a pretty meagre and angular affair amongst the reds, but in the main they have generally rounded out for the better. Maybe they bear comparison to that other great ‘restaurant’ year 1997.
Of course there are exceptions and the very best are very good indeed. Still of the eighty odd reds shown by the MW Institute in the hallowed [if gloomy] halls of Vintners’ Hall, to me less than a dozen were outstanding, and four of these were first growths. Even that remains quite an achievement though in a dismal growing season that at one stage looked simply catastrophic, only saved in the nick of time by a sunny September. Looking for the vintage’s silver lining many pointed to the promise of the vintage’s white wines from Pessac-Léognan and, in particular the sweet wines in Sauternes and Barsac. The former weren’t on display but those from the half dozen that were shown were flavoursome, full and sweet though they lacked the race and verve of both 2009 and 2010 which are both terrific vintages in Sauternes.
On the other hand you’d have to be a merchant with anxiously large quantities of claret sitting on your books to say the reds in this vintage are generally anything more than modest, early drinking vintage in the main. For my money you’re far better off looking at 2009 now it’s becoming physically available, as of writing often offered cheaper than at en primeur given all the current economic gloom and which will give pleasure from day one. After you’ve exhausted the delights of 2009, I’d consider every other vintage in the past decade before resting your sights on 2007. I’m not writing the vintage off entirely for the reds, that’s absurd, but really I’d only stump up for the very best in a restaurant [where their early drinking charms will be of benefit] or where they are offered at a considerable discount to recent vintages. More posts with detailed notes to follow on the wines from the individual appellations.