100ml, Bordeaux, France, Travel

#bdx13 Doing it for the Kids

People are not afraid of a roundabout in Bordeaux. This is the first thing you must understand when you go there. The roads are circles within circles. Lately I have fielded questions from friends and family who are having children this year, “I would like to buy a case of wine for his/her birth year. What would you recommend from Bordeaux?”


La Mission Haut-Brion © J Mahoney

After a week in Bordeaux tasting the wines from the barrel, I would say there are only a handful of 2013 wines that will be acceptable to drink in 21 years. This is an early drinking vintage.

2013 is a very light vintage with red cherry berry fruits rather than the classic lead pencil/cassis/cedar notes. Also, I found in the lesser names this horrible manipulated taste –  residual sugar covering up the hole in the middle of it or harsh extracted tannins. No, they will never integrate. It is the seed stuck in the molar that you keep chewing. Drying, sharp and more shocking than hitting upon an unexpected anchovy on a juicy pizza. Although that makes it sound better than it is. I love pizza.

The best wines have an unforced taste. They are elegant and light, well, the vintage is light and the best are elegant.

When I look back on nights drinking old vintage, what am I searching for in the taste? When I have my own vintage I am opening a time capsule. Unlike me, this wine has never seen the light of day and all the disappointments and happiness over the years that grind you down and wind you up. What does it say about this year? (What does it say about me?) This year that had my parents up all night, sleepless, delirious. The year that was more expensive than it should have been, apparently. It is a year I don’t remember but have flown like a sharp arrow away from it. It is not 1989, it is not 1990, it is not 1945. It is my year.

That is what you want. What I am looking for is something that says something about the 2013 vintage. There are wines in this vintage that speak of this moment in time. That took the vintage for what it is and didn’t pretend it was anything different. It didn’t hope to be  a hot year. It had rot. It was wet. It was the hottest summer in 30 years. Too many of these wines will be tipped down the sink before their time. They go in circles. There have been many so-called bad vintages (1993, 1994) that have been extraordinary experiences.

Will Bordeaux be the same in 2035? Will it even exist? There were a string of bad vintages in the 1970s. Many told us that this vintage would not have existed without technology. And who knows what technology will be like in 21 years. Look at the difference in our everyday technology today compared to 1993.

And around and around we go.

My choices to stash away and forget for next 21 years (if you can get your hands on them): Pichon Lalande, Calon Segur, Haut Brion, La Conseillante, Gruaud Larose, Cos d’Estournel and most of the Sauternes. For tighter budgets: Lacoste Borie, La Pointe, and the second wines of the above. But you can not go past the Sauternes.