I didn’t like ’97 Gloria as much as many other ’97 Bordeaux that I also purchased in 2000, so I didn’t drink another bottle until Saturday night. It has gotten really lovely. The ‘97s don’t develop the depth and complexity that clarets from the heralded vintages do, but they become much more like the great ones than early drinking portended. There is delicacy and grace and a touch of true breeding.
Tannins are standing out a little bit too much in some of the ‘97s, now, indicating to me they are in the autumn of their existence. I used to think that tannins integrated with fruit to create complexity with age, but now I understand that tannins mostly just preserve the fruit so that it can go through its separate chemical changes. As the fruit goes to wherever it eventually ends up, the tannins in a great concentrated year form longer chains and fall out of solution (or get too long to be tasted) in the same trajectory as the fruit’s evolution. In less concentrated, lower acidity years, such as 1997 and 1999, the fruit can run out of its changes faster than the tannins fall out; that’s what I think is happening with many of the ‘97s at this point. If I am wrong in this analysis, I would be happy to be enlightened.
So, I may buy a couple more Glorias and other ‘97s that I find drinking especially well and drag out their evanescent death. I feel a little bit sorry for those wine lovers who paid too much attention to the early critics that decried the vintage for its inflated cost and lackluster performance and didn’t get to enjoy the unique little ride.