I'm So Confused

Posted by The Wine Whore |

So here's the story...

While in Bordeaux, I couldn't turn a corner without hearing about how great the 2009 vintage is going to be. This got me really excited. I left Bordeaux anxiously craving the day when I could get my hands on some 2009. When I got back home, I even told my wino friends about the great expectations around this year's vintage.

Then I stumble across something that leaves me feeling betrayed and confused. According to this article, many people believe that French winemakers are just hyping this year's vintage to help sell bottles. Was I tricked or will this actually be a year that collectors envy and winos toast for years to come?

How heavily is the wine industry (pricing, scores, etc) influenced by hearsay versus actual facts?

Obviously we should default to scientific ways (weather conditions, quality of the grapes, etc) when it comes to predicting the quality of a vintage, but I still believe that the only way to know for sure is to taste the final product. Maybe it's just me, but the more I learn about the wine industry, the more I begin to distrust others and solely rely more upon my own palate to tell me the truth.

Am I just being paranoid?

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Joeshico said...

I think the hype is used when there are many questions about the vintage because of weather and other potential problems in any given year.
Before harvest there was a lot of doubt about this year in the Finger Lakes because of the very cool summer and in Calif. because of the extreme heat(seen many photos of fried grapes on the vine). After harvest, it seems 2009 is looking up, not necessarily a great year, but it seems all was saved.
My knowledge of wine growing is very limited. I take that back, it is nil, but I have come to respect the work that winemakers do to produce quality wines even in so-so years. Here at home in NY we have many quality winemakers so I am anticipating quality 2009 wines.

The Wine Whore said...

That's a great point... I have zero winemaking knowledge as well, but I do know that a lot can be done after the harvest to influence the quality and taste of the wine. One of the things I heard a lot about was using the "pressed wine" to help add tannins and body to a vintage that is not quite as robust. I am sure there are a bunch of other tricks besides this but the point is just that I guess you can't count a vintage out just because of rumors about its quality during harvest.


Kerry Johnson said...

Randy ... Vintages come and vintages go, the wine always speaks through it's consumers no matter what opinion I or others have. Now looking at futures which seems to be the real question you are asking. Futures (before bottling) are very opinionated only by those who have tasted or have been invited to taste. My point of view.

Anonymous said...

Another reason to trust your own judgement...

Tom Johnson said...

I think prices for futures aren't set until barrel tastings after the first of the year, which is when the critics have their first say.

Wine makers are by nature optimists. Unless there's a disaster in the vineyard, they're convinced they can make good wine. I don't think it's hype; I think it's just how they are. A pessimist couldn't survive in the wine business.

The Wine Whore said...

Thank you Tom for the info about futures... I really know little about purchasing them but that would make much more sense.

You also raise a good point about the wine makers. They really SHOULD be optimistic about their next vintage. There's nothing wrong with that. One thing that was interesting was to see the difference in optimism between the wineries on the left bank of Bordeaux who were very excited about this vintage versus the ones on the right bank which were hit with the big hail storm earlier in the year. The wineries that had many of their vines virtually torn in half from the hail were not nearly as optimistic. They were positive and believed that there were able to recover from the incident, but there weren't gloating as much as the other regions.



vinosseur said...


I wouldn't believe what I read out there in the printed world, especially if you were there. I have seen that 2009 seems quite excellent in the regions I have visited.
Did you taste the 2009 juice? How was it your opinion?

The Wine Whore said...

Good point! The only problem was that I missed the harvest. I got to taste a second growth grape from a vine, but nothing from the crush.

It sounds like the winemakers were telling the truth and according to the weather, things should have gone quite well.

I'll look forward to seeing/hearing more about this vintage... anything from your recent trip that may help shed some light?


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