I have been spending quite a bit of time recently considering the 2007 vintage in the Southern Rhone. Even if you haven't had the pleasure of tasting these wines extensively, stay with me here, I've got a larger point to make.
Many have hailed this vintage as the vintage of a lifetime. In my humble opinion, this might not only not be the best vintage of my lifetime, but in my estimation, it's maybe the 4th best of the decade. Now, I'm not going to lay out my case vintage by vintage. I will say this, I get why this got HUGE press. It's a very flashy and showy vintage. The entry level wines are great, and this is the best crop of Cotes du Rhone I have ever seen, that I will grant you. Parker goes on to say that Gigondas and Vacqueyras have never been better. This I disagree with, vehemently. These 2 appellations, in particular, show a ton of up front fruit, but that's not really what these wines are supposed to be, nor is it what makes them so appealing. I prefer these wines to be full of butcher shop, sage and leather, and only after some time in the glass or bottle, do they reveal a little mysterious fruit that emerges more with aging. The Rhone is supposed to be Robert Altman, not Jerry Bruckheimer!
Then there's Chateauneuf du Pape. 10 100-point Parker wines from this crop is crap. Granted, I haven't tasted these 100-point wines, but I have sampled a great cross section of many of the 95+ wines. They are delicious, no doubt. But that much up front fruit always dies a young death. Secondly, and certainly most importantly, Chateauneuf is a blended wine. Not just of grapes (albeit most famously), but of terroirs. These ridiculous amounts of variables make one of the most compelling and complex wines year in and year out. it's that complexity and subtlety that is noticeably absent from the 2007's. It is however, in spades in the 2006's. The most overlooked vintage of the decade. This is a nearly perfect vintage for the top appellations. With an extra year in bottle and tasted alongside the 2005 and 2007, 2006 is the vintage to beat. it's better now, it will be better in a year,and will outlast both of the most recent vintages of a lifetime.
Obviously, that's just my take on it, but doesn't that bring up a continued issue with vintage reviews? That the critics give the proverbial thumbs up or thumbs down, when we really only see maybe 1 vintage a decade that isn't good (Burgundy aside). Every vintage brings something different. What makes a great vintage? Overachieving cheap wines? Fruit bombs at the high end? Easy to drink young wines? Longevity? Complexity? For me 2006 is the best of the decade, and with good 2008's being poo poo'd awaiting the arrival of the next vintage of a lifetime, 2009, aren't we trying to be a little too savvy? If I only read the reviews, I'd agree, 2007 sounds awesome. Would it hurt to decide for yourself? If you are able to establish your own take, you might even become a better resource for your customers rather than just being another Myna bird, repeating what you read and hear.