So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

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So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby Mike Conner » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:28 am

This posting is meant to produce a serious discussion. Please, no trashing Arpy, The Speck or others (meaning, no personal attacks upon the person - only the work product :wink: ). And, sorry for the semi-rambling method I present below.

The large thread about 'is a wine worth $500' (or, whatever the intent of that thread), has some intriguing discussions within about the current wave of spoofolation that is going on these days with Bordeaux (not to mention almost all other wine regions around the globe).

So, my question is thus:

Why the dichotomy of great tasting notes given to the first growths (little or no spoofolation going on in my limited understanding) while just as good a set of notes given to other wines that many folks believe are being spoofolated??

I'd really like to better understand all aspects of this situation... what spoofolation is going on, why is it going on, what is prompting the desire to spoofolate? Is the spoofing just a consequence of new winemaking techniques that are being 'invented?' Global warming? Are wineries being pushed by the points givers? Or, are the points givers being duped (knowingly or otherwise)? And besides voting with our dollars by not buying, is there anything we consumers can do to either slow the trend, stop it, or better yet, try to reduce the practice?

[I'm not trying to bring into this discussion the shocking Bordeaux pricing going on these days - if the balance of supply and demand is out of whack, it ought to straighten itself out. Of course, I do understand that pricing is directly related to this subject.]

I believe I'm more in tune with the "less spoofolation the better" crowd. But, due mainly to monetary restrictions, I have little experience tasting new vintages of Bordeaux of any breadth to see this supposed change myself (and, little chance to taste new stuff here in Knoxville without paying a ridiculously high tarrif, as nothing seems to come in to town that isn't extremely pricey compared to most markets where Bordeaux hits the shelves). So, I'm asking these questions.

Of course, spoofolation comes in many methods that have been developed over the years. I'm not studied enough to know of all of them (nor list them), or how much any one method adds (or subtracts) in the resultant wine. What methods are used these days in winemaking, and what effects do they impart? Do some methods start in the vineyard? Or, is it mainly after the grapes are picked?

Getting back to the primary question, is it that the first growths just have such material that they don't have to use a lot of the techniques that other Bordeaux are (supposedly) using?

If you've been a points giver for a reasonable number of years, wouldn't the trend towards using these techniques and the number of 'early drinking' or 'sexy' or 'sumptuous' young Bordeaux that are being bottled give you some reason to pause just a minute?

Or, are these spoofolated wines just so suave and sexy that they seduce the points givers into not investigating what is going on behind the scenes? Are we losing the chance to enjoy some of these wines in 30 years that spoofolation might be cutting short? (hopefully, I've got that many years left in me!) If I were to purchase some of these spoofolated wines (if I were to, I'd be tasting first, instead of blind purchases as I used to be able to do in the past) should I just enjoy them in their youth? Or, am I wrong in believing that a number of these spoofed wines won't age as well as previous Bordeaux that I'm currently cellaring (mainly 89s-90s)?

I know, I know... lots and lots of questions. But, I'm a bit scared. If I get back into the Bordeaux market (Bordeaux remains my vinous "holy grail"), what is there that I can purchase safely that I can sock away for 5, 10, 20 or even maybe 30 years? Or, should I simply continue to look backwards and hope that I can afford a bottle of older Bordeaux for the even-more-occasional 'evening with a great Bordeaux on the table,' and hope that I can find the occasional $20 or $25 non-cru bottle to fill the "I don't want to open my best bottle of Bordeaux, but I want Bordeaux tonight" situation?

(while I have spent a pretty fair amount on bottles of older Bordeaux in the past, my likely future spending practices will limit myself to few of the >$50/bottle Bordeaux, which of course immediately leaves out the top vintages of first growths and those wines now garnering the uber-points)

Thanks for going through all this and I look forward to the discussion,

Mike


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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby Dale Williams » Tue Aug 15, 2006 12:08 pm

Whoa, lots to ponder there. Here's a few off the cuff thoughts addressing a couple of your points:

What constitutes spoof? Most would cite temperature controlled fermentation, reverse osmosis, spinning cones, picking grapes at extremes of ripeness, etc. Pretty much every wine that most agree is "spoofulated" sees a high degree of toast in new oak. Some see new oak in and of itself as evidence of "spoof", but while I can see that argument for Barolo, afaik barrrique aging with significant amounts of the barrels new have long been the norm in Bordeaux with the Firsts and more prestigious classified growths for a long time. A lot of 1988, '89, and '90 Bdx (the first vintages I seriously tasted young) showed a
s%$tload of oak young, but have integrated nicely.

Who is spoofed? Opinions vary. I understand many are saying the Domaine de Chevalier has become spoofed, the latest I tried was the 2001, which still seemed rather elegant and classic to me. On the other hand, I'd agree that Leoville-Poyferre has seemed to lose that classic feel in the last few vintages (while getting more and more points). Certainly wines such as Pavie, Monbousquet, Smith-Haut-Lafitte, etc. would make the list of anyone who uses the term.

Who isn't spoofed? My list would include Vieux Chateau Certan, Certan de May, Leoville-Barton, Figeac, Trotanoy, La Louviere, Meyney, Haut-Bailly, Magdelaine (plus many I can't afford such as Latour, Lafite, Haut-Brion - though I did manage to spring for a few of the latter in the 2001 vintage). Plus many "lesser" wines like Cantemerle or Lanessan.

But what of Angelus, Pavie-Maquin, du Tertre, Ducru, Cos,Lagrange, LLC, etc? It seems to me there's a lot of wines that are somewhat modern, that might come across as "spoofed" in the very ripe vintages such as 2003 or 2000, yet have some classic notes in 2001 or 2002. Other say that LLC possession of an RO machine or Lagrange's use of new oak puts them solidly in the path of evil.
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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:30 pm

I had a great answer to this and then the computer bombed out, but let me try to summarize:

In general I think that in Bordeaux it is too soon to declare a wine dead by spoofing. I never tasted the '47s, '61s, '66s, '70, '82s or '86s in their youth, so I cannot comment on how they showed at that time. Some of those vintages were declared classic in style and some legendary for whatever reason. These days we see folks tasting and pronouncing final judgement on a chateau by tasting a wine barely 3 years old. We do not give the accused a chance ot even mount a defense other than the knee jerk reaction that comes from proclaiming the cries of spoofulation as "traditionalists with no concept of pleasure in wine."

I do not think we will know what being spoofed even means for another 20 years. I have my bets placed on both sides of the ailse with wines like Leoville Barton and Pape Clement. Then there are some firmly in the middle like Lagrange.

To declare a wine like Leoville Poyferre or Montrose (to use two of the LL's whipping boys) spoofed and therefore unworthy is to ignore the fact that the wines may very well age into utterly classic and delicious Bordeaux. We do not know.

Certainly there are some new wave Spanish and Australian wines that are already falling apart, but the majority are just monolithic as heck. What does that mean? In these days of drink it before it's five years old: nothing.

Call anything you want spoofulation. I am a patient man (in wine but in nothing else). I will wait until the jusry comes back after sufficient deliberation. Come talk to me in 15-20 years and I will tell you whether Leoville Poyferre, Pavie or Montrose is spoofed wine. Right now it would just be a waste.
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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby Hoke » Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:37 pm

Dale: Very good and thoughtful response to the questions posed by Mike.

The only thing I would quibble about is the inclusion of temperature controlled fermentation techniques within the definition of "spoofulation". I think temperature controlled fermentation is sufficiently common in practice these days that it would be considered generally aceptable technique.

As I said, though, without that quibble, good response.
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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- n

Postby Otto » Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:25 pm

Very interesting question. I tend to call spoofed whatever wines I think lack the vague words "sense of place" and seem (another vague word) "modern". I don't like the vagueness of my terms so I'm glad you made me think.

Domaine de Chevalier has been called spoofed in the recent vintages. I recently tasted the 2002s but only found the 2nd wines spoofed - the firsts I thought were perfectly recognisable Graves. Young Bordeaux will be oaky so that in itself I won't called spoofed. If there however is very much oak and very much what to my taste is over-ripe fruit (i.e. what the major critics call ripe fruit) then I'll call the wine spoofed. Hence, I didn't find the 1st wines, red or white, of Dom de Chevalier spoofulated, but rather promising young Bordeauxs. In fact I was genuinely excited to find another Graves apart from Haut-Bailly which seemed to please me very much.

Good points above, I'll have to start digesting them. :)

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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoof or not to spoof

Postby Mike Conner » Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:36 am

Gents (at least to this point),

I appreciate the thoughtful responses (and sorry David for the puking 'puter). There is much to take into my brain and try to give it time to ramble around (much like my posts).

I'll acquiesce to the "its too early" theory to say whether the spoofolation won't allow the suspected wines to age as their elder brethren have (at least most of them). And, I suppose there is little coorelation between CA Cults and Bordeaux to draw any early conclusions? Not that I have tasted many of those either (a few not too long ago, but none with more than a few years age on them - I had very mixed results on those). I certainly understand there are as many folks on either side of the CA Cult see-saw (again, leaving pricing issues out for the moment).

So, I gather that it is still too early to point fingers (the middle finger?) at the points givers? And no possibility of answering the dichotomy I still believe I see?

Good to know there are still a handful of "non-spoofed" Bordeaux out there. I've gotten almost as much enjoyment out of wines like '88 Duhart-Milon as I have the big guns that I own. Especially knowing what I originally paid for wines such as that. Just did not buy enough of that level of wine (or, rather, did not have other Bordeaux that I could drink to help me keep my hands off those that I did purchase...).

Otto did bring up an important aspect that I didn't really mention in my post... the idea that some "sense of place" should be discernable in the bottle of Bordeaux (at least get a hint) and not just some modern cookie-cutter wine. I'm certainly not stating that all Bordeaux has to fit a specific list of flavors or otherwise to receive its label, but a Bordeaux ought to not taste like a CA Cult or some cab-shiraz blend from Australia.

(don't get me started with the first MoCool that I attended when lots of those cookie-cutter shiraz [with lots of points] were poured in my glass - it has kept me from trying and buying Australian wines for my cellar - I have none)

Thanks,

Mike


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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby Dale Williams » Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:45 pm

Hoke, you're probably right, but I threw tht in because someone on old WLDG had marked the introduction of widespread temp controlled fermentation as the beginning of the end for Bdx (with last "real" vintage being in 70s). I do think there are still some old style producers who ferment in old barrels or concrete, does that sound possible?

David, I think you have a good point about no one knowing how they will age.

So I used my post for the base of making lists of my impressions of which wines were more traditional and which more modern (I decided not to use the perjorative term "spoof"). I'd be interested in seeing how people agree and disagree. I tried to only include wines I've tasted in last few vintages (so no Ausone, Petrus, etc) but in several cases these opinions are based on one or two tasting portions

More or Less Traditionals
Vieux Chateau Certan
Certan de May
Leoville-Barton
Figeac
Trotanoy
La Louviere
Meyney
Haut-Bailly
Magdelaine
Latour
Lafite-Rothschild
Haut-Brion
Cantemerle
Lanessan
GPL
Talbot
LMHB
L'Arrossee
Cheval Blanc
L'Evangile
Lafleur

Moderates (many modern techniques, possibly seem rather modern in ripe vintages and rather traditional in less ripe vintages)
Mouton-Rothschild
Margaux
Angelus
Pavie-Maquin
du Tertre
Ducru-B
Cos d'Estournel
Lagrange (St J)
LLC
Calon-Segur
Lynch-Bages
Pichon-Baron
Pontet-Canet
Gloria
Palmer
La Conseillante
Gruaud-Larose

Moderns
Leoville-Poyferre
Pavie
Pavie-Decesse
Monbousquet
Smith-Haut-Lafitte
Giscours
Troplong Mondot
Bon Pasteur
Hosanna
La Confession
Nenin
Roc de Cambes
Peby Faugeres
Quinault l'enclos
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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby Dale Williams » Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:49 pm

PS I intentionally left off a couple of chateaux where I specifically heard there was a style change after my last sample ( DDC for instance)
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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Aug 16, 2006 2:00 pm

I think you have it mostly correct Dale. I would add Montrose to the traditional category. I know there are some who think they have gone modern, but from what I have tasted over the last 10 vintages it has more to do with the freakish 2003 vintage than anything else. The 2000 Montrose is hard as nails. I would also move L'Evangile to moderate, as the 2000, 2001 and 2002 all seemed pretty ripe to my taste (2000 expectedly so) but still easily identifiable as Bordeaux. Lastly I have always, and to this day found Ducru to be very traditional.

Just my take, and as I said, a fine job of breaking it down Dale.
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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby Dale Williams » Wed Aug 16, 2006 2:03 pm

Funnily, looking at my own list, I buy more of the traditionals, but some from each category. I've bought since 2000:

More or Less Traditionals
Leoville-Barton 2001, 02, 03, 04
Trotanoy 01
La Louviere 00, 01
Meyney 00, 03
Magdelaine 01
Haut-Brion 01
Cantemerle 00, 01, 02
Lanessan 00, 01, 05
Talbot 00, 02

Moderates
Pavie-Maquin 00, 01, 04
du Tertre 00, 01, 02, 03, 05
Cos d'Estournel 02
Lagrange (St J) 00, 01, 02
Gloria 00, 02

Moderns
Leoville-Poyferre 01, 02
Pavie-Decesse 01
Monbousquet 01
La Confession 01
Roc de Cambes 00, 01
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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Aug 16, 2006 2:06 pm

David, where would you place Gruaud Larose? One of my favs. In fact, one of the few clarets I put away.
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Re: So, help me understand. . . . Bordeaux - spoofed -vs- non-spoofed?

Postby David M. Bueker » Wed Aug 16, 2006 2:12 pm

Same here. I am all over the map, with buys like:

Leoville Barton: '00, '01, '02, '03, '04
Leoville Poyferre: '00, '01, '02
Pontet Canet: '00, '01, '04 (must...resist...the...2003...)
Pavie: '01 (1 bottle just to see for myself what the heck is going on there)
Mouton: '02
Latour: '01
Pichon Baron: '00, '01
Lagrange: '00, '01
Leoville Las Cases: '01, '02
Smith Haut Lafitte: '01

etc.

And as for Gruaud Larose, I would call it traditional. I don't buy it though. Too variable.
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