When you see ‘em, buy ‘em

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There are certain vintages that stand out in our minds as wine consumers. Those growing years that are so remarkably good that you recall them with fondness for a very long time, those that every time you have a bottle from that year you relish it. After all there will be no more! There are some that stick in your mind too as they were not so good but the good ones seem to linger longer thankfully.

Some of the notables for me were/are 1997, 2007 and 2012 from California and the Northwest, 2005, 2010 and 2011 from Europe, and 2012 specifically from Tuscany to name a few. We are currently in the midst of the releases from one such vintage, one that should not be missed so when you encounter wines from the 2015 growing year in Europe, buy them and buy them now and in size, you won’t be disappointed.

I understand the argument for buying producer over vintage, in fact most of the time I agree with the notion. There are producers that make outstanding wine regardless of growing conditions. Winemakers that always seem “to pull the rabbit out of the hat” no matter how challenging the weather conditions. I support this but I also believe that some years should be purchased more aggressively because the wines are just that good. I can’t picture anyone making the case to buy a 2011 Napa Cabernet, a brutal vintage over a 2012 Napa Cabernet, an outstanding year, regardless of who was at the controls!

Our readers all know by now how diligent we are about tasting wines. We taste with every producer importer and distributor any time they come to see us. It is how we find the best, most unique and extraordinary wines to include on our shelves and in our wine club. It averages 40 – 50 wines per week; we have not tasted one from Europe from the 2015 vintage that has not been delicious. While great vintages are great vintages this is unusual.

It is not just our judgment though. I was at a private event just this past Friday, and the host that is in our wine club pulled out one of our club selections a 2015 old vine Grenache from Spain that we had in our club for $16, $14.40 for our club members. One of the other guests at this event is a friend and customer as well. He is a major league collector with a cellar over 5,000 bottles focused on some of the best producers from France and Italy. He remarked to me about the quality of the Grenache our host had chosen to open. I chatted with him about the wine and when we got to price he was stunned, he had estimated the cost to be in the $40 range!

This is what a great vintage can do, it enables wine consumers of all budgetary means to find really great bottles to add to their collection and enjoy over the ensuing years. As wine consumers we all have that opportunity right now with European 2015s. The rosés from this year are all gone at this point and we probably have at the most another 6 months of releases of white wines from this year save higher end white Burgundies and Bordeaux. For reds however we have plenty of time to scoop up some really great wine. Our experience to date with tasting the ‘15s is indeed unique and a perfect “batting average” is unlikely so the guidance of your favorite wine professional is a good idea. It is also recommended to try a few bottles before making a serious commitment, but don’t procrastinate on these wines, they are being bought up quickly and not acting fast will cost you the chance to gather your favorites.

We will continue to recommend specific wines from this great year in Europe as we encounter them. In the meantime stop by the shop to try some of those we have.

If there is a topic you would like to read about or if you have questions on wine, you can email George@thedinnerpartyshop.com, or make suggestions by contacting the Healthy Community section at the Coeur d’Alene Press.

• • •

George Balling is co-owner (with his wife Mary Lancaster) of the dinner party, a wine and table top décor shop located by Costco in Coeur d’Alene. George worked as a judge in many wine competitions, and his articles are published around the country. You can learn more about the dinner party at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com. Be sure and check out our weekly blog at www.thedinnerpartyshop.com/home/blog-2. You can get all of these articles as well as other great wine tips by friending us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/dinnerpartyshop.

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