Friday, January 27, 2023
LeDomduVin: Theory of the decades for Bordeaux Vintages - Vintage Chart 1900 to 2020 (suite)
Back in 2012, I wrote a long post on my blog (read it here) about a "theory" originally initiated by my grandfather, a winemaker making "Cotes de Bourg" & "Cotes de Blaye" wines, who planted the idea in my mind.
This idea, or "theory", consists in believing that there could be a recurring "pattern" or "cycle" of the vintage's quality and conditions for Bordeaux wines, coming back nearly every decade in very similar ways, making the quality of the vintages almost predictable (despite the acceleration of recent climate changes since the mid-80s, more especially since 2000).
I know it is a far-fetched idea. That's why I call it a "theory". And I should not generalize or make any general assumptions, as each Bordeaux vintage is different and, therefore, inconsistent from one another, even more so when you take each appellation individually.
But, let's say we take Bordeaux as a whole and generalize on the overall quality of each vintage, regardless of the appellations and left bank/right bank differences (topography, geography, climate, micro-climate, grape varieties, soils, sub-soils, etc...).
To do that, I studied different Bordeaux vintage charts from various reputable sources (Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Decanter, Wine Cellar Insider, etc...). I compiled them into an easy-to-understand "Bordeaux-at-a-glance" vintage chart.
As a visual worth a thousand words, I created this Vintage Chart in 2019 as a supporting visual to the post I wrote back in 2012 (easier to comprehend the theory, see it here).
Today, I reviewed this chart a little and completed it until the vintage 2022 (which is a great vintage, by the way). And the results speak for themselves: despite some rare exceptions, like 1947, 1961, 1964, 1982 and 2022, since the 40s, the vintages ending in 0, 5, 6, 8, and 9 are consistently coming back as "Best" or "Great to good", while the ones ending in 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 are consistently “Good to fair" and/or "Fair to mediocre”.
It is just a theory, yet it seems quite clear to me, and recent vintages have repeatedly proved it, with the "5s" for example, 1985, 1995, 2005, and 2015. Same with the "6s", "9s" and "0s"
I'm not saying it is science or pure fact. It is just the result of my personal observation over 30+ years as a Sommelier and Wine Buyer and grandson of a winemaker who started to talk to me about this pattern when I was a kid, and the idea stuck in my head.
NB: for more details, you can read my 2012 post on the subject, read it here.
Meanwhile, I have just pre-ordered Neal Martin's new book "The Complete Bordeaux Vintage Guide - 150 years from 1870 to 2020" (official release mid-April), which I highly suggest you buy to complete your library of "necessary wine books to have" and better comprehend the complex variations/factors that have influenced each Bordeaux vintage over the last 150 years.
And maybe you'll see the pattern, too. 😉👍🍷
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