Some thoughts on the Norwegian fine wine market. In England they have Good Ordinary Claret, a wine name I simply love. You may even find Extra Ordinary Claret. In my market, Norway, we used to drink ordinary claret as well, sometimes good, sometimes probably not as good. Claret was what you could get here for at least two hundred years. If you drank red wine, it was likely to be ordinary Bordeaux. You could get the great stuff as well; Lafite was prominent on menus from the late 19th century. The odd Burgundy could show up as well.
Italian wines have been a much more recent phenomenon, the broad selection have arrived after 1995. So one wonders how 1961 Barolo is so much more widely available here than 1961 Bordeaux that is still widely available, relatively at least, almost everywhere. Well available, these vintages of Nebbiolo is not for sale much at the Monopoly, actually has never been in most if not all cases. A 1958 Giacomo Conterno Barolo are so widely tasted by some people that they are only mentioned in a sideline together with say a 1961 Gaja Barbaresco or a 1958 Rinaldi Barolo. The description is down to a good bottle, not as good as the bottle two days ago or something like that. Today one states as follows; “Of the Nebbiolo’s, the 61 and 58 G. Mascarello and 70 G Rinaldi impressed”. That’s all he could be bothered with writing about these common wines. But they do write full notes on a 2010 Burgundy 1er Cru, even if it’s available at the Monopoly, and should therefore be less of a rarity. These old bottles are popped and poured seemingly daily, while Bordeaux of similar age is hardly ever seen. In any market, at least where wine is not made, Bordeaux should always be the most prominent, the one most tasted, simply because they make more wine, at least when you talk of old vintages.
For years and years now a never ending supply of old wines from Piedmont have reached the lips of thirsty Norwegians, there seems to be an unlimited supply, like a fountain were you can get more all the time. And the tasting notes used to be so common that you saw them nearly every day. Last winter there was a comment in Decanter from one of the buyers at BBR I think it was, in London, which stated that old Piedmontese wines were difficult to get. BBR should go to Norway then. In the last issue of Decanter (October 2014) Maureen Downey, states that “Rudy’s (Rudy Kurniawan, a fine wine fraudster) wines are in ridiculously good shape for their age. As a result, the entire nascent Asian market, and all the US collectors who have only really gotten into old and rare wines in the past 12 years, incorrectly expect old wines to look new, unblemished and shiny with high fills, dark colour and youthful corks”. Maureen is one of the world’s foremost experts on faked wines.
Many of the Norwegian bottles are described as youthful. A youthful 1961 Gaja was drunk a week or so back and described as could withstand another fifty years of ageing. I didn’t taste it, but this is not an uncommon remark made by those who do. If they decide to describe it further or fully at all. These are not once in a lifetime wines here. Further many have very high fill, which is actually pointed out quite often that these wines have much higher fill than similarly old Bordeaux, the rare times Bordeaux is opened next to them. Further on there are some unblemished labels to be seen, looks fresher than the latest release of the same wine, fifty years younger.
When I taste similarly old Piedmontese wines, I have hardly used the description of youthful, tired or tiring is more common. But whatever the source, be it the real stuff, a mix or fraud, there simply is so much to go around, and has been for years now, maybe even more. In Norway we have Good Ordinary 1958 Barolo.