My friend Jeff cleaned out his wine cellar not long ago and discovered a few bottles he didn't plan on drinking. So he did what he's always done with wines he doesn't want: he drove them to our house.
But the wines Jeff delivered weren't his usual clearance Châteauneufs or foundling late-harvest Seyvals. This time they were all first-growth Bordeaux--specifically, Château Latours. The catch? Every one of them was from a bad year. Actually, the proffered vintages ranged from merely bad to exceptionally, exponentially bad. In fact, one of the years was so bad that its label had been pasted on upside down.
Don't get me wrong: Jeff doesn't make a habit of collecting off vintages and oddball bottles. His taste--like his cellar--generally runs from great to very great. The only reason he had bothered to buy the '73, '74 and '77 Latours at all, he said, was to complete his collection, on the assumption that he'd stage a vertical tasting one day. "But," he admitted with a nonchalance that only a man with a cellar full of Dalla Valle, La Landonne and La Tâche could carry off, "I just never got around to it."