Expectations. They color everything.
Last night I sat down in my TV room with a good friend and a bottle of 1999 Haut Brion to watch the Mayweather–De La Hoya fight I’d Tivo’ed the night before. All day Sunday I avoided any media because I didn’t want to know the outcome. Seemed like everywhere I went a newspaper popped into my line of sight. Every time I turned on the radio a sports report was just coming on.
In any case, while watching the fight we sipped on this somewhat young Bordeaux. My friend was disappointed:
"God dammit…these fuck’in Bordeaux are so overrated I can’t believe it. I’m dumping all my 2000 in a couple years."
This is no small threat. My friend went nuts with the 2000 Bordeaux vintage and has a number of cases, most of which are 1st growths and other highly desirable bottlings.
His problem is that he’s got a "California Palate".
"Where’s the fruit? Can someone please show me a Bordeaux that has a bit of fruit that isn’t stuffed full of the smell of wet band aids and tastes metallic?"
He should have known. Bordeaux, for all the talk of an "International" style of wine that is supposed to be
taking over the world, really is quite different than CA wines. They simply don’t have the fruit that CA cabs can muster. They tend to be lower in alcohol. And they tend to have more of a herbal and "gout de terre" character. Yet, I don’t think my friends is alone in being disappointed when they taste these wines and find that they are nothing like CA Cabs.
Of course there’s a lot going on here that gets one to a point of exasperation. This wine, which was his, is not cheap. You’re hoping for a good experience from a wine the you back a bit. This "hope" is often enough to alter what your expectations are for the wine and alter your memory of the wine.
For my part, I enjoyed the wine. No, it didn’t have the kind of fruit you might find in a 1999 Napa Valley Cabernet. And yes, it did have bret and the wet band aid character that often comes with it. What I enjoyed was that it WAS different from what I normally imbibe given my access to far more CA cabs.
But it made me wonder how many of those folks brought up on juicy, ripe, fruity CA cabs will dismiss red Bordeaux as a disappointment when they start to investigate them? I suspect many will.
That said, the fight was a good one. It went well with the Schubert Riesling and Guilliams Spring Mountain Cabernet Franc…as well as the Haut Brion.
I expected De La Hoya to do well. And he did, though losing in a split decision. However, I didn’t expect him to keep up with Mayweather who is so damn fast and agile, while De La Hoya is a puncher and aggressive. But then again, De La Hoya is a DIFFERENT kind of boxer from Mayweather.