Sometimes, old ideas should be left for the history books. At least that’s my idea with the few producers in France who are blending Bordeaux with the Rhône. Why bother?
Historically, Bordeaux reds were “Hermitagé,” in the late 1800s and early 1900s, to help buttress the body and richness of wines. In other words, the Bordeaux reds were so light and weak that they needed a little help from those from the south of France to make them better. That certainly isn’t the case now, especially with a big-name château like Palmer.
I tasted the Historical 19th-Century Wine L2004 from Palmer a couple weeks ago after the Grand Tour in Las Vegas, and although it was a very good wine, it was nothing very exciting. In fact, it all seemed sort of gimmicky to me.
Sure, the wine, which was a blend from 2004 Palmer and 2004 Hermitage, was rich and fruity with plenty of fruity, even black pepper character. And I liked the soft ripe tannins in the wine. But I wasn’t that impressed. I gave it in a non-blind tasting score of 89 points. In this case, one plus one didn’t equal two.
Apparently, only 15 percent pure Syrah was used in the blend, but I found that Syrah dominated the blend. It was neither
Rhône nor Bordeaux. It was just a very good red. Sort of banal really. As the English say, it was “neither fish nor fowl.” I didn’t taste it next to the 2004 Palmer, but from what I can remember, it was not as exciting or complex or satisfying as the outstanding Margaux.
I just kept on asking myself as I drank the young blend: why?
Plus, if you order it in a restaurant, I don’t think you are going to see much change from three hundred bills. That’s $300. So it’s not a fun, inexpensive wine.
From what I understand, the Historical 19th Century Wine of Palmer will not be made in 2005, because the vintage was too high quality. I am not surprised. The 2005s are phenomenal. And each time I taste them, I am more and more impressed.
Maybe I am just being reactionary on this? And old ideas like this can become new ideas. But at the end of the day, I drink the wines of Palmer, and Bordeaux at large, for the unique character they offer.