December 2, 2023
Food & Drink News Opinion

IN VINO VERITAS: All in a label’s work (Part II) – Morgan Vanderkamer

As you peruse a wine list you may find yourself flicking through an endless sea of pages and wines you don’t recognize.

As you scan through some of the figures beside certain wines it may leave you begging the question: who would pay such a price for a bottle of wine?

In the same breath, for those of us creating wine lists, these bottles represent something really special.

These are the bottles that have found their way to our cellars with an unmisseable story, an identity that can’t be cloned, for those wines from iconic vintages they encapsulate the prestige of what grapes are capable of producing.

Why does vintage matter? Each year the weather brings a changing tide for grape growers and wine makers.

It’s a stamp of how the wine will be defined that year. With varying weather comes varied vintages. Hence some are good, others not so good, while some are outstanding and seemingly only come, if you’re lucky, one or two times per decade.

As Mother Nature would have it, variances in weather give wines a slightly different identity every harvest. In the fine wine world exceptional vintages command a higher price.

Recently I was given a gift of one of those iconic wines from an outstanding vintage.

The 1982 harvest in Bordeaux was a very memorable one, almost perfect from start to finish.  I was filled with an immense excitement when I received this bottle, its not everyday you get to revisit such a special time in wine making history.

The bottle is gritty with old dust, the label is in excellent condition given its 38 years of age and the wine is no different.

From the first sip you know the wine is of exceptional quality. The fruit is dark and rich, but not sappy.

The oak used on the wine has developed into leather, sandalwood and dark spice aromas. The acidity is bright and the wine is very much alive.

The wine has a very long finish, long enough to carry you through to the next sip. It’s debatable, but I prefer these wines on their own without food.

There is something magical about experiencing the evolution of such a wine in the glass; it gives a snapshot of how the wine has changed over the past three and a half decades in the bottle.

Wine is constantly evolving, it is living in each bottle, keg, barrel and tank; no other beverage can make that claim.

Wines for everyday drinking can now come from all corners of the globe. We can appreciate the opportunity to try the wines that grace our shelves and wine lists and when the time or chance comes to taste something truly sublime we know it is something that we don’t taste everyday and it leaves a lasting memory on our palate.

Many of the best wines, of course, get better with age, but there is also a perfect time to uncork their greatness, and the time was now for the 1982 Figeac. In a few years time it might lack its lustre or maybe, as many Bordeaux’s do, live on with a lot of life for decades to come.

Worst case scenario you wait all that time and its corked, flawed or maybe it never gets drunk.

Spending big money on a bottle doesn’t define its worth. There are many labels that are special that won’t set you back too much, but are they just another wine?

Is one Malbec just the same as the others. What makes them worth your while? If given the opportunity would you only drink fine wine?

NEXT WEEK: In part III of our special series, MORGAN takes a deeper look into the glass of wines for everyday; superlative and approachable. 


Morgan is sommelier and co-owner of the award-winning Barrow’s Keep restaurant in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.
For more information or to make a booking, log on to:
Phone: 085 250 7461


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *