If Points Were Years

CoterotieguigalIf points were years, less would be more, but now everyone pays for points, not maturity or complexity, while leaving older, more developed wines for others – like me.

The current release of Guigal, 2001 Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde runs about $50, but there it was right in front of me, a long ignored bottle on the shelf. In the bottom rack was a 1997 Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde at the same price. Sure, for those in the wine-know Guigal is famous and Côte Rôtie revered, but other than those eight people nobody cares so the 1997 was still there waiting…

Côte Rôtie was a name mentioned with respect and awe not so many decades ago, but now drinkers are more interested in Shiraz than Syrah. Easy is in and terroir is esoteric. I suppose that’s great for me and other old guys in that we can find bargains like this, but I find it hard to believe that decades from now someone will be waxing poetic about some machine-picked, low-acid and over-extracted wine from a hot vineyard made in 2006 – unless you have a thing for canned stewed tomatoes, which is what those wines will taste like in a decade or so – just about the time 2006 Côte Rôtie will be just getting warmed up.

Today’s feeding frenzy is for the latest and hottest, while store shelves throughout the USA are filled with bottles from a few years ago that are cheaper than current releases and far better to drink on the week you take them home. While I can’t understand why you (the consumer) aren’t grabbing up these wines, I am very happy that you don’t. The earthy beauty of this Côte Rôtie was exotic and layered with spices and a generous sottobosco of mushrooms and cedar chips with an expansive mid-palate and a lingering finish of wild flowers and a depth throughout that challenged and inspired the palate and the mind.

The definition of great Syrah is still in the Northern Rhone Valley of France.