UPDATE: 2009 Bordeaux

For those of you chasing auction values or simply chasing the vinous cat-and-mouse game, you may want to heed a small token of information that appeared on Robert Parker's Twitter feed recently (a quote, reprinted a few paragraphs below). Keep in mind, in the past, information such as this was never made public before an issue of the WA was officially released. The oenophile was forced to wait for the US postal service to deliver a journal that was only in print form. At that point, the reader was left to fend for their own interest and to figure out exactly what in the Medoc was going on. Parker was not barking in their ear or on their smart-phone giving them a tidy summation of the facts several weeks before his “secret” was made public.

One must ask the question, with information such as the single quote below now available at a moment’s notice via year 2012 technology, do those intent on cornering the fine wine market for 2009 Bordeaux (or those that simply wish to drink the wines but purchase based on vintage hype, etc) even need to wait for the WA to be released? Even further, is there a need for the WA at all when a single text that distils what could be 45 pages of material is neatly surmised via an iPhone dalliance that, in reality, is all the pertinent information we’re really looking for?

Robert Parker via Twitter: "Was in Bordeaux for 12 days tasting and retasting the 2009 Bordeaux...After 33 years of doing this, 2009 is the single greatest vintage I have ever tasted...Of course 50-60 of the most prestigious wines cost a small fortune but there are another 500+ wines in my next wine advocate...and many of them are outrageous value for such sumptuous wines."

No, I'm not going to offer any 2009 Bordeaux today, that would be too “retailer” of me but I am providing this information so you can plan accordingly. There will be plenty of 2009 Bordeaux offers from entities far and wide filling your in-box over the next few days (in reaction to this quote) so be on the lookout for your favorite wines...many are still available at the original en-premier price (or even lower).

Which begs another question? If top examples from “the greatest vintage I have ever tasted” are still available nearly two years on from original release at equal or lower prices (not to mention scads of 2010 – the “second greatest vintage ever”), have we come to the end of the consumer propped-up Bordeaux futures game? Certainly the untimely 2008-2012 economic downturn has something to do with this (and we will see the impact Parker’s “greatest vintage ever” comments have on the 2009 market) but it is telling.

In addition, does the general public even care anymore about “the greatest vintage I have ever tasted” from arguably the most important mover and shaker in winedom? Not because of the person or voice, but simply because “The Times They Are A-Changin”. Back when the 1982s were released (or 1990 or 2000), the world waited with baited breath regarding the proclamation of Monkton. I'm just not sure anyone cares at this point? Well, they care (and they care a lot), but not in the same “collective holding our breath” sort of way.

There’s so much immediate information in our world (disseminated in hundreds of complicated forms) that the world does not care in the same manner that it used to (and this is not just about wine). Anticipation fosters electricity. Leaking tidbits of the most important information weeks ahead of time fosters a loss of wattage when the lights are turned on (or, it leads to expectations that are very difficult to fulfill).

So, even if the collective “caring” is different than it was 10 years ago, what happens 30-40 years from now, when auction and retail values are determined by who knows what? Will our present market trends and decades old scores from the upcoming 2009 bottle report carry any significant weight?

Let me remind you, 40 years ago, Washington State was not even a bona fide wine-producing region. Oregon? Isn’t that a sandwich cookie – it certainly wasn’t a place to find Pinot Noir? Bordeaux was immersed in a rather dark period of poor quasi-industrial performance and biodynamic meant the same thing as “add more chemicals” to those in Burgundy. Napa Valley was still half fruit orchard/half renegade wild-west-wine-region and there was no vinous New Zealand. There was no Grateful Palate, little or no South African exports, no Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate or International Wine Cellar. Neal Martin had not been born. No email, no internet, no cross-state wine culture of any kind.

In other words, a lot can happen in 40 years of wine and the truth is that none of us have any idea what’s to come.

My instinct tells me the most influential tool for retail and auction values circa 2040-2050 hasn’t been invented yet and the future voice that will carry it may still be but a spark in his/her parent’s eye.

Who knows, maybe that spark is yours?

- Jon Rimmerman