with Debra Meiburg
For wine regions with tricky climates, such as Bordeaux, the year's weather conditions greatly affect a wine's quality, evolution and price. Memorising vintages is no easy task and the fact Bordeaux comprises two separate areas - the right bank and the Medoc, or left bank - each with its own distinct weather, complicates matters further. They say wine is liquid poetry, so on the right is a poem to help you remember.
If committing this ditty to memory is too daunting, pour a large glass of Bordeaux and focus solely on the first line of each refrain.
2005 is wine with jive,
Elegant and fine, this vintage will thrive.
2004 got decent scores,
It's classic old-style, not yet ready to pour.
2003 saw heat extremes,
With ripeness and pricing both quite obscene.
2002 is classic and true,
Though the right bank suffered as weather was cool.
2001 should not be shunned,
Fresh, pure and focused, this is bargain fun.
The year 2000 is hailed as grand,
Ripeness and colour triggered undue demand.
1999 is even and fine,
Though some say it's lacking texture and spine.
1998 is simple mid-rank,
Austere in Medoc, but plush on the right bank.
1997 charms like a wren,
But drink it up soon - don't hoard 'til the end.
1996 has all the right tricks:
Dense, focused and ripe, the critics' top pick.
1995 is a wine with drive,
Fine texture and fruit, pour this one with pride.
1994 earned variable scores,
The right bank fared better, but all worth a pour.
1993 is a friendly bee,
Cheering and pleasant, but about to flee.
1992 was thin and dilute,
So drink it up soon or give it the boot.
1991 lacked sufficient sun,
Ditch this tough vintage for something more fun.
1990 Medoc is quite pretty
But the right bank's superb, a regal beauty.