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Y2K Bug Bites Bordeaux

by Jonathon Alsop
Photography by Jay Fedigan
November 2002


Pouring 2000 Ch. GazinDon't get me wrong: I love red Bordeaux, especially the most intense, delicious, expensive Bordeaux.

Often -- very often -- there's a good correlation between high price and high quality, especially in wines that have been around centuries. It's a tradition that the great Chateaux of Bordeaux command great prices for their history and artistry, and I don't disagree with that at all.

It's the hype I can't handle.

Exactly two years ago, immediately after the 2000 harvest, the 2000 vintage hype-fest began, very slowly at first. It picked up speed as wine lovers' wishes for a super millennial vintage turned into a self-fulfilling wine-futures market.

Six months after the harvest -- summer 2001 -- 2000 Bordeaux went on sale as futures. The terms were pay now, receive shipment some time in 2003, taste 2010, drink 2020.

Compared with the value of internet stocks at the same time, this seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea, and lots of people went for the deal in much the same way a trout goes for an expertly tied fly.

2000 Vintage Hype-Fest Got It Going On!By the time wine god Robert Parker said he wanted to go to bed with the 2000 vintage (or something like that) it was all over. By back-to-school time last year, the pre-orders were in and paid for, rumors of pre-over-selling started to circulate, then war, and the Euro.

Coming into the new year, the wholesalers are trying to hold back the 2000 vintage till they sell off more of the delicious but ignored 1998 and 1999 already out there. The last thing anyone wants is to release a load of 2000 on the market in time for 20 percent off month -- December.

I think people will be sad enough as it is. Think about spotting the wine you bought in advance on the shelf and about the same price for all the world to see. It's irksome rather than substantial: the headline reads, "Wine Lovers Don't Get Good Deal" and garners no sympathy.

On the bright side, this holiday season will feature a treasure trove of mark-downs on high-end wines, I predict up to 50 percent off in some cases, ahead of a major release of millennials.

In the mean time, 2000 Bordeaux will not be ignored, especially since the 2001 is wine already.

Vinexpo 2002Vinexpo Americas, a huge international wine show, crowned its premier season in the USA with a 2000 vintage tasting of over 100 Grands Crus Bordeaux in New York last week. Knowing already that the best are always good, I was more than willing to blacken my teeth and welcome the unattainable and over-trumpeted juice.

The tasting confirmed what I already thought from early release tastings: the 2000 vintage of Bordeaux is good, maybe very good in spots, but not mind-bending like 1995 and 1990, and I'm certainly glad I didn't buy any in advance.

"Give me immortality or give me death," said The Firesign Theatre, and the overall tannic structure of the 2000 is so awesome it will live a long time.

It may have been a vintage year for hype, but I still think 2000 is too light on fruit.

2000 Ch. Brane-CantenacBest Of The Best

2000 Chateau Brane Cantenac: strong ripe fruit, raspberry and blackberry juice, scent of vanilla bean, white pepper spice, first alphabetically and my favorite from the tasting.

2000 Domaine de Chevalier: rich nose of pine forest and rosemary, summer leaves and bark.

2000 Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion: aromas of late-harvest fruit, ripe plum and fig, almost carmelized, dense and syrupy, prickly tannin.

2000 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte: plum and blackberry, hay and barnyard, very nice, smart wine in a dumb field.

2000 Chateau Pavie: super fruit at last, great concentration, stern tannin that will persist for years.

2000 Chateau Troplong Mondot: creme brulee aromas, vanilla and caramel, tremendous fruit, mincemeat.

2000 Chateau Clinet: super-ripe fruit, white pepper, smoke, strong, gripping tannin.

2000 Ch. Dauzac2000 Chateau Dauzac: nice forward fruit, ripe and round, rich creamy aromas, on the buy list.

2000 Chateau Chasse-Spleen: tobacco, smoke, blueberry and wood, like looking at a child and imagining what it will be all grown up.

2000 Chateau Gazin: beautifully over-ripe and fruity, lots of wood and cellar dust, cedar.

2000 Chateau Fonreaud: strong smell of white pepper, cherry candy, hot spicy pepper flakes, complete coating tannin.

2000 Chateau Prieure-Lichine: awesomely rich, strong blackberry aromas, fig flavors, dark wood and bark.


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