Why Big Red Diary?

Random ruminations

gevrey - october 2004
Gevrey, October 2004

It’s been a lot of fun this year – though hard to keep up sometimes. Over the last couple of months I ran an extra panel on the front page with a harvest update log – a big ‘thanks’ to those that contributed – it seems some people liked it, my traffic went from ~100 people a day to 300+ for three consecutive weeks. I’ll try and do it in an even better way next year. I will be taking away the panel from the front page in a couple of weeks and just leave (short-term) the tab at the top of the page, so things should look a little tidier again!

It’s been quite tough visiting the producers over the last 2 years but from an unusual angle, everything was a little predictable – you could really guess what to expect before the pipette discharged into your glass – 2002 uniformly very good, 2003 uniformly very good at the bottom end with smaller and smaller jumps as you move-up. I expect 2004 will be much less predictable but more exciting!

It’s that ‘end of the year is approaching’ time: The garden is full of leaves and the path down the side of my house is covered in overripe grapes that I didn’t harvest from my own vine – some unknown (to me) white garden variety. It’s the time of year for switching on the central heating and buying-in bulk stocks of cold remedies, and it’s also the time of year that I look at the development of the recent vintages and decide what I’m going to buy in the coming year.

To call it a wine-buying strategy would be to imply an over-developed sense of structure to my buying decisions, particularly when a nice sales assistant/label/price (delete any or all as appropriate) is added to the mix. I am, however, working to the following broad guidelines to ‘inform’ the decision making; 1990/91 – forget, nice as they are, you either can’t find them or can’t afford them. 1992’s have typically dried up – in terms of availability and enjoyment! The 1993’s that haven’t been drunk are usually quite young showing and splendid, but prices are peaking. 1994’s are taken only on an ‘out-of-interest’ basis as the average wine is rather dull despite rare individual performances that can spellbind. It’s like playing the lottery – not many are winners! 1995’s I tend to like; they are still rather dense and young, but show much more charm than most 1996’s. The 96’s can be spotted a mile off with long, long acidity, cool fruit and an enjoyment that borders on the masochistic for me, but enjoy I do so it’s on the list. The 1997’s are, in some instances, starting to get a little ragged, but typically offer a fat and friendly experience as opposed to any real ‘wow-factor’ – there are some serious exceptions. 1998 is that conundrum vintage as described in the last issue, I’ll buy if I get the chance to taste them first. 1999’s from good provenance (remember how hot it was last summer) are definitely on the list. 2000’s are starting to disappoint – that sweet succulence of last year is now hard to find and I think many wines could end-up like their counterparts from 1992, there are, however, many excellent exceptions from 2000. 2001’s are on the list but pre-tasted as there are big variations. Finally the 2002’s are starting to fill the shelves – I’ve a consignment or two to pay for before I start exploring these shelves though! Lastly I’m already buying regional 2003’s – they’re great.

I think that’s quite enough from me. I’d just like to wish you all a happy end to this year and an equally happy start to the next. Hopefully I’ll be doing a few thing of interest for you next year, so see you in March…

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