In Praise of Off Vintages – A Bordeaux Offer.

In Praise of Off Vintages – A Bordeaux Offer.

Posted on Mar, 25. 2010 by

Categories: Wine

2004 Chateau Malmaison-Rothschild. Moulis en Medoc
Retail price before [member discount|Our members save an average of 25% off the normal retail prices. As a courtesy to the retail wine industry we do not publish our prices.] $20.25 • Buy this wine!

The beginning of this year has offered many opportunities for Guild members to attend events and to taste some great wines. Most notably, the tasting for Haiti and the auction for Haiti. These were both events where wine collectors dug deep into their cellars and gave us a chance to taste some of the great wines of the world in older vintages. The most striking thing for me in all of the older wines we have tasted this year is the power and presence of what have been considered “average” vintages.

‘Off vintages’ is a term that has come to mean ‘average vintage’ in contrast to the many epic vintages we face these days. It does not mean bad vintage, if it is a bad vintage it is simply called just that. In Burgundy, for instance, ’02, ’03 and ’05 were considered the great vintages of the area. The other vintages in the last decade were just off vintages with the exception of ’04 and ’07 which are on the fence of being bad in some places. This of course is very generally speaking, some producer made great wine in those off/bad vintages.

The Rhone for example hit is stride of ongoing epic vintages in 1998. I remember at the time being so excited about this because I was personally a big fan of the ’97’s and later of the ’99’s both of which were shadowed in the strength of ’98. I purchased plenty of ’98’s but bought way more 97’s and ’99’s because not only did I prefer the more typical style that they offered but they were cheaper and more approachable. We see a similar thing happening with the epic ’07 Rhones. Yes they are going to be great but they really need the time to age out a bit, consequently they have provided some excellent values in ’05 and ’06’s. Let’s not even talk of the terrible ’02’s

In Bordeaux there was a spell following the great 1989 and ’90 vintages where there were some questionable quality issues in ’91,’92 and ’93. Though thought but many to be poor vintages I am certain that many of you, as I have myself, have purchased Bordeaux in these vintages and been quite pleased. Again it is relative, a great estate can almost always make good wine, almost. 2004 came along and was considered to be a good vintage, highly typical of the area but by the time we were settling in to this classic vintage the epic 2005 was already overshadowing it and rendering it almost moot.

There comes a time when you are following wine more closely that you almost begin to omit the off vintages from your radar focusing only on great vintages and great wines. This phase passes as you see and hear the old timers scooping up large amounts of off vintage wines at low prices and enjoying the wider palate of complexities and intrigue that they offer. In fact at the end you come to regard the off vintages as ‘the’ place to find ‘real wine’ with all its nuances and capacity for development with age.

The Bordeaux I am offering you today is a 2004 and as I said above this is considered to be a good normal vintage. It does not require all of the explanation I have written above at all, I merely wanted to talk about the glory of the off vintage in general. I suppose you could say that the 2004 I am bringing you here is a great example of great value for a great wine in a average vintage but only if you remember that there can be excellence in the average vintages.

The 2004 Chateau Malmaison-Rothschild is a wine many of you may know and have followed in the past. It is run by some branch of the great Rothschild family and is consistently known for making a great value Bordeaux in the $18 to $20 range. In the wake of the 2005 this wine has been all but forgotten and there is plenty available right now. This is a perfect everyday house Bordeaux, something that you would be blown away to be served by the glass at a restaurant.

This is from the district of Moulis Haut-Medoc and the wine is a classic blend based on Cabernet. That said, the delivery is soft and velvety, the wine is medium bodied with classic, Cabernet cassis fruit. It is dark and well made with an elegant nose and nice long finish. The wine is just beginning to show the charm of a few vintages past, adding earth and woody tones to the fruit.

I think that this is an excellent buy Bordeaux and recommend it to everyone as an everyday option for around the house. Certainly a great food wine also.

2004 Chateau Malmaison-Rothschild. Moulis en Medoc
Retail price before [member discount|Our members save an average of 25% off the normal retail prices. As a courtesy to the retail wine industry we do not publish our prices.] $20.25 • Buy this wine!

One Response to “In Praise of Off Vintages – A Bordeaux Offer.”

  1. Kevin Dinol

    29. Jan, 2014

    I’m big fan of older vintages, thanks for the info about 2004 Chateau Malmaison-Rothschild.