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Do Many 2005 Bordeaux Wines Suck?

Any wine lover who pays attention to what's going on in Europe, or anyone who reads this blog regularly will have heard the hype about the 2005 Bordeaux harvest. While wine marketers have a habit of using the phrase "vintage of the decade" far too often for their own good, it certainly seems that 2005 had something going for it in Bordeaux. The pre-release prices for the first growth Chateaux are stratospherically high and the wine world is abuzz with the excess of it all.

It was only a matter of time, then, before we heard from someone who thinks it's all a load of bunk. Thanks to fellow blogger Jamie Goode, I enjoyed this somewhat odd article from the Times of London in which Jane MacQuitty basically says that an awful lot of the 2005 wines aren't actually all that great.

In what seems to be a pretty deliberate wet blanket on the whole vintage, MacQuitty goes on to say that many wine makers have just overdone it -- in a sort of Dionysian revel they have made wines of excess -- too much extraction, too much oak, too much fuss. In short, she claims that as many as 25% of the major wines of this vintage are so flawed.

Unfortunately she doesn't name names (a tough thing to do as a wine journalist when you're criticizing) and doesn't get into a lot of detail about whether and why these are wines that other, more influential critics have liked. As a result her article ends up sounding a bit sourpussed instead of analytical.

Still, it's amusing to hear a voice running against the grain of so many others. Read the full story.

Comments (3)

Jack wrote:
04.20.06 at 7:59 AM

It is an odd article. It doesn't separate top Bordeaux producers from bulk producers.

But Ithe thing I keep wondering about, with regards to Bordeaux 2005 hype, is who is going to be purchasing the second tier of wines if they are double the price? How will they also move the wines currently in distribution/already in wine shops? I just don't see this working out for 99% of the Bordelais.

Jeff B. wrote:
04.20.06 at 10:10 AM

From the article:

"But, while many vineyards will have the claret of the century on their hands, as many as a quarter of the region’s 14,000 wine producers could have bungled the opportunity by excessive use of high- tech equipment and clumsy techniques."

This is a strange article- coming up with specific percentage is weird: there's no way to do this unless you've tasted a very broad selection of the wines. Moreover, Jancis said much the same thing elsewhere, prior to this article. This strikes me as someone looking for a new (potentially controversial/attention-getting?) angle on the topic. Top producers at every level will no doubt make good-to-great wine; those who have surplus wine/grapes/red ink may have overdone it. This is hardly the stuff worthy of note.


Ben wrote:
04.21.06 at 8:15 AM

Have they releases 1st growth prices yet?

For what it's worth, I' have heard that there are some people overdoing it, but they are the same people who have been overdoing it for years now. My "friend" who just returned from Bordeaux said that many in St. Emilion and to a lesser extent Pomerol are overextracting, overoaking, and generally overdoing it. That's a generalization, and he said there were some great right bank wines, but he found the left banks to be better "handled." He's been tasting for the better part of three decades, so it should be noted that he prefers a more classic style.

I know there's a lot of hype, but it sounds like much of it is deserved. I'm hoping the lesser growths won't double in price.

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