It was about 3:30 a.m. when I woke up this morning. It was freezing outside and my bedroom didn’t feel much warmer. Tuscany is cold in the winter, even in early March.
I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about 2005 Bordeaux. I have about 600 wines to taste in the next two weeks, and it is going to be a grueling marathon of wine tasting--not to mention blogs, stories and videos. But even more than that, it’s the pressure of knowing that tens of thousands of people out there want to know what the wines are like. I feel a bit like Roger Federer before a big tennis match, or David Beckham before going out on the pitch for Real Madrid.
As I tried to go back to sleep, I just kept saying to myself that I have been doing this for decades now, so relax. I started tasting barrel samples in 1982, and my mentors were some of the great names in Bordeaux, including Alexis Lichine, Daniel Lawton and Bruno Prats. I still remember the first day I tasted a barrel sample at Lichine’s château in Margaux and marveled at the rich and opulent young red. Of course, it was a superb vintage, 1982, but I was already star-struck by the gorgeous fruit and velvety tannins. Little did I know that the vintage would turn out to be such a classic one. And then there were all the other classic quality barrel samples since, including 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996 (Northern Médoc), 1998 (Right Bank), 2000 and 2003.
We all know that some vintages have more great wines than others, and that truly great years have many great wines. I am pretty sure that 2005 is going to be one of the latter and it will deliver an extraordinary number of superb wines. Just how many is probably what’s keeping me up at night….