2007 Bordeaux - What does it mean for '05?

by Chuck Hayward

Now that it's out of the way, it is quite simply not true. Depending on your stance this is both good and bad!

Let's start with why it's bad since that is the simpler answer: lesser quality wines means less wine on the market worth drinking.

The benefits of a weaker vintage are much greater. I've tasted a few '05s again while here, and simply everything that we've all been saying about it for the last two years is absolutely true. The 2005 is arguably the best vintage in the last 60 years if not all time. The wines are full of fruit, power, tannin and acidity all balanced with extreme finesse. What does this have to do with 2007? Anyone who purchased '05s for investment purposes should be smiling. Simple market logic; lower quality vintages like '06 and '07 create increased demand for the 2005, thus driving the prices up. The additional unstated truth behind this statement is this: get any available 2005 futures while you still can. The wines are in the process of being released from the Chateaux now, and once they are released the prices will jump above futures pricing.

On a side note, our team ran in to Parker earlier this week; his notes should be forthcoming on his next '05 update. I had that in mind when I drank another bottle of the '05 Aromes this evening with dinner, and that bad-boy shone with the steak and duck on the table. It is likely that this wine will be included in Parker's next score release. Having tasted thousands of wines from '05, '06 and '07, I know the quality that is in that bottle, and I'm hoping to see his thoughts on it as well.

A further benefit of a lesser acclaimed vintage such as '07 that must not be overlooked is how drinkable the wines will be upon release. Most of these Chateaux have been operating for decades, if not hundreds of years. Over that time they have picked up a trick or two about dealing with difficult vintages. It is quite apparent that weaknesses in the vineyards cannot be masked in the winery, but by reacting early and correctly to changes in the vineyard, a talented winemaker can pull of very pretty, approachable wines. The 2005 vintage was truly monstrous, and most of the wines need to be put away and forgotten about for years to show their true potential. What then can one do to pass the time? The answer is simple: drink the lovely perfumed and approachable 2007s. Many of these wines are almost drinkable already. By the time they are released they will have soft, approachable tannins, combined with elegant structure and delicate aromatics. This is not a collectors' vintage, but one to bring out the wine drinker in all of us, testing how Bordeaux reacts in a challenging environment. While there are some sure losers in this vintage, there are also some pure beauties, and it would be a crime to pass them by. Careful choice must be made when buying any '07s though, because while some are pretty and will be approachable early there are definitely many that are thin, lack fruit, and have fairly harsh tannins. These will likely not ever be particularly enjoyable.

Of course when it comes down to it, the dollar is king (or, more accurately, the Euro is king). What will the pricing be like? While nobody is willing to make official statements yet, the general consensus seems to be that prices will be fairly similar to 2006, if not a bit lower. (Due to the exchange rate slightly lowered Euro prices in '07 will mean that '06 and '07 will largely be the same in the US dollar. This further makes 2006 a decent buy and 2005 a must buy.) Since we do unfortunately have the Euro working against us, my list of wines to buy in '07 will likely shrink further once pricing is released. The key there though is "shrink", not quite "disappear" completely. On a more personal note, those interested in white Bordeaux, buy and drink '07! Harvest largely happened before the rains, so the fruit is ripe, rich and concentrated, and the acids are high; amazing purity and elegance.

To summarize, those looking to the 2007 wines are in for some great early drinkers, and a whole slew of thin tannic wines to avoid. To the collectors and those looking for truly transcendent wine experiences many years down the line, take this last opportunity to buy heavily in to the utterly astounding 2005 vintage. When it comes to Bordeaux, I have been a loyal follower of Robert M. Parker, Jr. for many years. While I may not always be exactly on the same page, he quite obviously has an eye for quality and the experience needed to accurately summarize a vintage. And as he just stated in his blog: "2005...is out and out fantastic...and I think there are enough truly great wines at low levels and less prestigious chateaux to give this vintage huge play...even with all the worrisome economic factors...is it the greatest vintage in my 30 years of closely following Bordeaux?...yes!"