The hype has started – see above.
I think there are at least 7 major tastings in London this week. On the positive side it’s the perfect opportunity to get a broad-brush impression of the vintage, on the negative side there’s a trend for people to arrive early, drink all the top table wines and leave – this will require a little more ‘policing’. Plus, one word of warning – if people (read ‘critics’) present ‘definitive’ scores and notes to you on a per-wine basis – don’t believe a word. They are doing you and themselves a disservice!
Whites are typically less of an issue, but the majority of reds are; far from finished, far from being bottled, and far from consistent – if you taste the ‘same’ bottle at three different venues you will have the impression it is three different wines. Why is that? Well you don’t know which barrel was used, whether a small assemblage of young and old vines was made (or whether you’re only tasting the old vines from a new barrel), how was it preserved etc., etc., and was the same choice made for different merchant samples? That’s life. At least you can ask all these questions in the barrel cellar when you make a visit!
Coming back to the positive points – lots of gossip can be swapped, lots of old contacts met and YES a broad idea of the vintage: austere vs friendly, dense vs light, black fruit versus red, etc. But for scoring – you need informed opinion from the barrel cellar – or best of all – the finished wine in its bottle.
The first results from newly managed and owned Domaine René Engel will be on display today – when shipped I understand they will wear the label Domaine d’Eugénie – the importers are suggesting that for this estate, the big price increases will come with the 2007 vintage. I hope to catch up with the new team in charge in the next weeks.
And if you’re heading to London to taste – enjoy, but don’t take it too seriously. Below is a list of major merchants with tastings, and a link (where I can find one) to their offers:
- John Armit
- Berry Bros and Rudd
- Corney & Barrow
- Howard Ripley
- Justerini and Brooks
- Lay and Wheeler
FOOTNOTE: Prices are high. I normally buy ~10 x 6-packs during this campaign. I’ve bought only two and don’t expect to add much more from my normal UK sources. C&B’s Varoilles offer is a beacon of value I believe – with the caveat that I haven’t tasted these 06’s…