European wine grape harvest down in 2012

January 28, 2013

Domaine Jean Descombes Morgon 2009 DuBoeuf is a terrific buy right now, at perfection. It is rare I tout Bo-julius, but the 2009 were excellent, especially the DuBoeuf Morgon. It made top 50 in WS and the price spiked, but you can find it now around $16/bottle. RP and WS said 90s. I recommended these and reminded readers the best domains will cellar several years. A recently opened bottle was fruity, black raspberry, sweet (from the fruit, the wine is dry), a bit spicy of nutmeg with a floral finish. It definitely improved in the glass.

The wine grape harvest throughout Europe was not very successful in 2012. The reasons varied with the regions - from cold, sleet and rain in the north to a pervasive drought in the south. In Italy there was a protracted period of temperatures hovering around 0 degrees C.  The French crop is off 20 percent, with Champagne 40 percent and Burgundy, specifically Beaujolais, down 30 percent, most affected by the extremely cold, wet conditions. Italy, on the heels of a decline in 2011, shed 7 percent, due to drought and extreme cold. Many noted authorities claim this is the worst harvest in 50 years. Since, in many cases, these wines won’t be released for a while, I have no read yet. However, expect the usual suspects to start a drumbeat claiming that these conditions produce better wine in an effort to pull the financial chestnuts from the fire. Drought, yes, cold/wet no, long story short and generally speaking.

In places where vintners were already struggling with small profit margins, many could be facing survival problems, said Thierry Coste, a spokesman for the French Farmer’s Union. I still believe that carefully selected Cru Bourgeois, from the highly touted 2009, are the way to go. The news on 2010 and 2011 is terrific and as “RP  buzz” wanes, the prices on 2009 should continue to slide as cash-starved producers try to liquidate inventories.

Want to stay au courant? Add these words and ideas to your vocabulary. Cicerone: beer sommelier, reflects the surge in craft beer. Cali Gamay, Mourvedre and Trousseau are on fire as the Cali adventurers find new varietal wine to suit new microclimates. Wine fraud, as Kurniawan’s trial unwinds. It is alleged the guy sold millions of dollars' worth, and he tricked several well-known palates. "Chinese buy up France.” Louis Ng, an executive in the Macao gaming industry, who works for Stanley Ho, renowned casino magnate, recently bought Gevrey Chambertin. Jean-Michel Guillon, president of Gevrey Chambertin winemakers syndicate, claims they offered to buy for seven million euro. Property sold to Ng for eight.  Moscato, the new white Zin, and sweet red wine sales are surging with the younger set. Some question the trend, but one astute writer, Tyler Coleman, attributes this to rappers mentioning the varietal, among other reasons. Makes sense to me, and to take it a step further, it was a similar trend in the '70s and '80s which opened the floodgates of wine sales in the USA. Mad Dog, Red Cap, Boone’s Farm, Mateus and Lancers were the wines of choice of the Doobie Brothers and Lucy set. With the economy in the toilet and hopelessness on the rise, the masses turned to dope and booze; the Soma generation redux.

Wine doctor Chris Kissack wrote a very interesting article on 2010 Bordeaux and how barometrics influence tasting events. I’m unsure of the efficacy of his points, but they are well made. Interested people can go here: Chris is a go-to guy on the Cru Bourgeois of Bordeaux. He produces a comprehensive listing each year, which I have found valuable to winnow my list of wines to sample.

Recently some 1995 Chateau Rauzan Segla Margaux came on the market at $115. I did a bit of research and located a better deal with the 2003. Buy a case of six for $450 or 12 for $830. Both are in their drinking window. The 2003 received slightly higher reviews, an aggregate 88 compared to 86 for the '95. Parker loved the 1995.

The other day someone told me I could make ice cubes with leftover wine. I was confused...what is leftover wine?