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Jancis on old Claret 03/02/2007 (TNB)

I'm a bit baffled by Jancis Robinson in the FT this week. She had presented Clarets of the 50's, 60's and 70's to a group (largely unused to such things, I think) and they were very well received and she described them as "charming, delicate and subtle".

She says that she explained to the assembled company that Claret isn't made like that any more, the grapes back then having being picked earlier leading to higher acidity and lower alcohol. She then says that much less was understood of wine science then, for example mastery of the malolactic was patchy and the wines would have been quite unappetising in their youth (although I wonder about this - give me tannins, acidity and a bit of hardness rather than a glass of blackcurrant jam any day). Well yes, perhaps, I am inclined to say - but isn't the proof in the drinking? If today's child's-palate friendly, drink at three years old stuff is what comes of a thorough understanding of science, then I would like to join the Luddite Society immediately. Of course, there have been some improvements in managing rot and so on, but is it possible that apart from that the old-timers new perfectly well what they were trying to achieve and how to achieve it?

And I'm baffled as to what Jancis herself wants. Does she like drinking these old Clarets or does she want the modern wines - the ones that she herself described as being made by producers "in love wih over-ripeness" (I think I remember her words correctly) a few years ago.

Bin end added to Fine Wine Diary 03/02/2007   Return to top