Sierra missed – the saga of Sierra Carche 2005

What happens when a reviewer tastes a good bottle, but some consumers buy what appears to be a completely different product? Think it couldn’t happen? Guess again and behold the saga of Sierra Carche 2005.

sierra carche label l
Last fall, Wine Library, the Springfield, New Jersey wine retailer, sent out an email offering for a wine that seemed to be the wine lover’s dream: a fantastic quality-to-price ratio. The wine on offer was the Sierra Carche 2005, a blend of Monastrell with Petit Verdot and Malbec from the off-the beaten path Spanish region of Jumilla. Jay Miller, a critic at the Wine Advocate, described it as “Inky purple, the wine offers an array of scents which jump from the glass… structured wine with gobs of flavor, terrific intensity… It will provide pleasure through 2025.” He awarded it 96 points. The suggested retail price was $40; Wine Library was offering it for $29.99. Robert Kenney, a New Jersey wine consumer, was so enthusiastic upon seeing the email that he ordered several six packs.

But Kenney’s euphoria turned sour as soon as he pulled a cork. He later wrote on the forums at erobertparker.com that “I have consumed 6 bottles already, praying that with each popped cork, a different genie will emerge…so far, no such luck…slapping 80 points on those bottles is generous.”

Kenney describes himself as an “unabashed fan of DrBigJ,” as Miller is known. But Kenney was so disappointed with the wine that he corresponded with Miller and FedExed Miller one of his bottles last fall for him to taste and “see if indeed it was indicative of the wine that he had tasted and scored highly.” Kenney wrote last week that “During a ten month period I had exchanged seven emails with DrBigJ, reminding/imploring him to taste the sent bottle…to no avail.”

Then a consumer in Pittsburgh, Bob Hudak, posted that he had found the wine for $38 at the PLCB, the state-run store in Pennsylvania. On July 5, Hudak wrote of his experience, “Considering that it was a Dr Big Jay 96 pointer in the WA, I figured I buy 6 bottles. I opened my first one this weekend. Big mistake. The wine had virtually no aroma at all. You couldn’t smell a darn thing. With time and air, some stinky aromas that were off-putting became noticeable.”

Kenney chimed in on the thread as did several other consumers with their negative experiences with the wine. (The wine’s scores on cellartracker.com were not all bad although several reviewers took the time to note flawed bottles and one gave it a 74 but the modal score was around 90.)

On July 14, Miller posted to the forum that he finally opened the bottle Kenney had sent him and declared it “undrinkable.” Miller contacted the importer of the wine, Mark Clinard of Well Oiled Wine Co., who replied, “We have had similar problems with this wine and had a meeting in March with the winery to find out what the problem is. There was clearly some substandard product shipped by the winery and we have had to take back a large chunk of this wine from the market because it was rejected by the trade. I apologize on behalf of the winery for this apparent bait and switch. Going forward we are searching for a different winery for this brand.” He posted his cell phone number and asked that those consumers with problems contact him.

Brandon Warnke, Vice President of Operations at Wine Library, posted that anyone who bought the wine through the store could return it to them for a full refund.

Jay Miller then wrote: “this is about the worst thing that can happen to a critic, to be tasted on a fraudulent wine, publish a note, and then have readers spend their good money on a fairly pricey wine only to find out that it’s plonk or worse. Its reminiscent of the furor over Las Rocas a few years ago that nearly killed that brand. It’s a bad situation all around.”

Bruce Leiserowitz, a consumer, then asked specific questions of Miller, who replied:

I’ll do my best, Bruce.
1. The wine was tasted at the usual venue where RMP and I taste with importers, The Oregon Grill in Hunt Vally, MD. Present was Mark Clinard and his partner in the Well-Oiled Wine Company, and Mark Noah, the sommelier who pours wine for Bob and myself. The wine was tasted from bottle; it was not presented as a barrel sample.
2. I can’t respond to this question except that Mark Clinard said that there were three different bottlings of this wine and that some of it was sound. A few people on the Board have given the wine excellent notes while others have had problems. The logical guess is that these discrepancies were due to the differrent bottlings. The wine that Robert Kenney sent me was not defective int he sense of brett, mercaptan, or any winemaking issue. It was just mediocre wine like you might expect in a cheap jug wine. As I said, pretty close to undrinkable.
3. I’ll take the blame for not tasting the wine right away. I just didn’t take it seriously since this was the only complaint that I knew about (until very recently when Bob Hudak and a few others reported their bad bottles).

For some history, go back and look what happened a number of years ago with Las Rocas. It obviously took a while for it to percolate up that there was some bad wine out there. Once it became clear, after being alerted by RMP who received some feedback about bad bottles, the importer Eric Solomon took responsibility. –MrBigJ

He also then added, “I meant fraudulent only in the sense that what I tasted in Robert Kenney’s bottle was a different wine than what I tasted with Mark Clinard at The Oregon Grill.”

This was the first vintage of Sierra Carche, which is owned by Guy Anderson in the United Kingdom. Guy Anderson Wines describes its business: “As one of the UK’s leading brand creators, …. [w]e are constantly researching and learning what people look for when choosing a wine…. We have a strong track record of producing innovative new wine brands…. [B]rands created by Guy Anderson Wines such as Fat Bastard, Mad Dogs & Englishmen and Gran Familia have found success in markets around the world.”

But there was still little known about the actual winery and vineyards producing the Sierra Carche. The importer’s page states that there were 20,000 bottles produced (the above label showed a number out of 16,000). There is scant elaboration on the vineyards.

In the absence of a reply from the Sierra Carche importer, Well Oiled Wine Co., Victor de la Serna offered some additional information. (De la Serna is a Madrid-based authority on Spanish wine and founder of elmundovino.es.) He writes:

I can give some information on this subject. Bodegas y Viñedos de Murcia is not a winery, but the commercial arm of the Casa de la Ermita group of wineries in southeastern Spain. This is a still quite recent (1999) group which began in Jumilla with Casa de la Ermita (DO Jumilla), was expanded with Casa de las Especias (DO Yecla) and Dominio de la Peseta (DO Alicante), three adjoining appellations sharing the same monastrell-dominated terroir, and there’s also, I believe, two more companies, Casa de la Ermita USA and Altos de la Ermita, the latter for upscale wines. The rapid expansion caused the raising of quite a few eyebrows in Spain. The group has been the subject of ‘for sale’ rumors for several years now – but business troubles are unfortunately not uncommon these days among Spanish wineries, so this is certainly not an isolated case.

There have been a couple of other similar cases of lot variation in the past few years involving inexpensive Spanish wines that were highly rated in the WA – always a risk, IMHO, with wines produced by large-scale wineries which can easily increase production of commercially successful brands. Sierra Carche seems to be a different case in that it’s a more expensive wine, but it does come from a very large winery.

Humberto Dorta, a wine consumer residing in Pennsylvania, corresponded with an official at the PLCB about the wine. Here is the reply from the official:

Thank you for contacting the PLCB and bringing this matter to my attention. Please be informed that the Bodegas Murcia Sierra Carche 2005 was not “dumped” on the PLCB as you have described. The importer, Well Oiled Wine presented the wine to my office in the Spring of 2008. As a long time business associate with a new import company. Mr. Mark Clinard of Well Oiled knows the purchasing power of the PLCB. He presented a volume purchase opportunity which we believed at the time would be a great fit for the Chairman Selection program.

As we do with all Premium Collection store proposed wine purchases, my buying team and I sampled the Sierra Carche 2005 which was rated 96pts from the Wine Advocate magazine and quoted with a price of $40.00. We found the wine to be outstanding, in spite of its youth it was showing deep black fruits and some pencil lead. The PLCB price was negotiated to $29.99 for a 700, six bottle, case purchase. The PLCB order arrived in August of 2008 on the first container of this wine to the United States. Only 525 cases of the wine had arrived which went to the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh markets. The Central PA order of 175 cases arrived later and was rejected due to it’s late arrival. The 525 cases sold through at $29.99 without any incidents of excessive customer returns.

Effective July 1, 2009 the wine was given a liquidation price of $18.99. There were approximately 150 bottles remaining at that time. As I stated the PLCB received wine from the first container of this wine to the US. I believe that subsequent shipments of the wine may have contained questionable juice. In the spring of this year, my office was offered the Bodegas Murcia Sierra Carche 2006 which we declined. I will personally pull a bottle from our remaining 2005 inventory to see if there is any cause for concern. Again thank you for passing the information along to me.

An email yesterday morning to importer Mark Clinard seeking clarification about the winery, the three lots, the production volume, and possibilities for customer refunds was not returned. Reached on his cell phone yesterday morning, he said he had no comment at this time.

Late yesterday someone posted to the fourms at wineberserkers.com using the handle BVM winemaker.

We produced a single tank of 180 hl for Sierra Carche 2005 and a sample was submitted to the Wine Advocate for tasting in November 2007. We bottled the full quantity over two days and labeled 20,000 bottles for Well Oiled Wine Co order (lots 8113 & 8114) and we reserved the remnant (3,600 bottles) into clean skin stock (lot 7033). Following the wine’s successful reception among customers and reviewers, we shipped the remnant lot 7033 to additional markets including 1050 bottles to the US. At the request of Mark Clinard at WOW Co following the complaint by the Wine Advocate, we re-tasted the wine and while we found no problems, we also sent samples for analysis at an independent laboratory. We will report the results as soon as they are available. In the meantime, in keeping with our policy on all wines delivered to any customer, BVM will honor any returns of Sierra Carche 2005.

The saga of Sierra Carche is a fascinating and still unfolding tale. One of the largest questions is what protections do consumers have? Have you ever been like Robert Kenney and bought a lot of wine based on a score without trying it? Do you think that wine stores should honor returns of this wine, as Wine Library is doing? (Not all states may allow returns and some may limit the length of time that a shop could return a wine to the distributor.) Although there appears to be nothing illegal with what has happened, and, if real, the “BVM winemaker” has offered returns of all wine so consumers like Robert Kenney can be made whole assuming the three tier system allows it.

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48 Responses to “Sierra missed – the saga of Sierra Carche 2005”


  1. Slight quibble — Víctor de la Serna is not an importer. As well as being one of the top authorities on spanish wine, he is a journalist for elmundovino and the owner of the spanish bodega Finca Sandoval.


  2. Doug – Yes, I did not mean to imply that de la Serna is an importer but rather that the importer of Sierra Carche did not reply and de la Serna offered some information. I have edited that sentence for clarity.


  3. Hi Tyler,
    Great summary. It all goes back to wine being made on a specific lot of land, and the winemaker bringing out the character of the land. This means that the amount of production you can get is limited.

    As soon as you begin to market labels without backing it up with a specific site, the risk of situations like this increase. Let’s be quite clear about it; legally I doubt whether this would be considered fraud. Chivas Regal could put lousy Scotch into their bottles and not commit any crime, so long as it comes from Scotland. The brand would suffer, but they can do it. The point is, that unless you have a brand to protect, the incentive to make multiple lots when the first receives 96 points is pretty strong.

    If a wine is submitted to the Advocate in future, to keep things kosher, the importer should stipulate in a legally binding document that this is the only lot will be sold in the marketplace. Period. That gives you a legal basis to go after the producers who screw around with the system.


  4. A few things that Tyler left out…

    1) Miller reported on 2006 Sierra Carche instead of 2005. The importer and Kenney had to correct him on Robert Parker’s BB. He was insistent it was 2006, until 48 hours later, he said that he had tobe 2005 because they told it was.

    2) Miller acknowledged that his tasting methodology (tasting in a restaurant with the importer pouring the wines for him) is no different than that of Robert Parker’s.

    3) The alleged winemaker’s story refutes anything that the importer has claimed as fact to date.

    4) Wine Library was never contacted by the importer, nor was the PLCB, who up until yesterday was still selling this wine.


  5. It’s too bad really. The customer who brought this particular issue up is apparently someone who doesn’t know that much but who wants to learn about Spanish wine and has relied on a single critic, who is also learning about Spanish wine, for guidance. That in itself is not “wrong” but it lends itself to some disappointments along the way.

    This particular customer also appears to be a bit unique in that he contacted and at his expense, sent a bottle of the same wine that he found to be quite different from what the critic rated. I doubt that many people would have done that as opposed to simply chalking up another loss. Had he not done that and then continued to pursue the issue, nothing would have happened

    To his credit, Robert Parker has demanded an answer from the importer by today because he realizes that the integrity of his publication is at risk. But he himself only recently learned about the issue. Again, if Mr. Kenny hadn’t been so persistent, none of this would have come to light. The integrity of the Wine Advocate would still be at issue, because apparently a number of customers are quite dissatisfied with the wine, but it would have been nonetheless a silent chipping away at what has been a great publication.

    One wonders how often this has happened in the past with nobody raising hell.

    The irony is that the tasting methodology that Robert Parker long ago outlined for himself is a pretty good hedge against being scammed. Buying at least a few wines at retail, so the provider never knows if you are tasting his own bottle or a purchased one, and tasting them blind against their peers, would not be perfect insurance, but it would be a good start.


  6. [...] Sr. Dias Blue iban dirigidos primariamente a Dr. Vino están en lo correcto. Hoy Tyler ha publicado una entrada que es, a mi juicio, verdaderamente fascinante. Narra la “saga” de un enoproducto de Jumilla muy altamente puntuado por Jay Miller en [...]


  7. Hi Tyler,

    This is a fascinating story. I took the liberty of putting up a synopsis of it in Spanish on my blog, La Otra Botella with links to your piece for those among my readers who can read English. Thought this would be very interesting seen from the Spanish side of things and look forward to some debate over there, particularly regarding the crucial questions you raise at the end.

    Best,

    Manuel


  8. As disappointing as this situation is, the same thing has been going on for years and there is virtually no way to stop it. Reviewers, of which I am one, get bottles to taste. We have no way of knowing how many of those wines are bottled in more than one lot, but it is widely known that many wines are made that way.

    The wine can be as available as Ch. Ste. Michelle Riesling, which at $10 is a pretty good wine, but there are 1.5 million gallons of that wine. There is simply not much chance that this wine is bottled in one lot. Now, I am not accusing Ch. Ste. Michelle of anything underhanded. I am simply pointing out the obvious.

    The Mondavis were never coy about the fact that their Fume Blanc was bottled in several lots. They were pretty clear to argue that the lots were of equal quality. But here is the thing. They were also clear to state that the first lot was the one whose fruit allowed it to stand on its own while the last lot was the one that needed oak to fill in its holes.

    It does not even help to buy the wine at retail because what is in stores is also the first bottling. And no one at the writer or consumer levels has any idea when lots change or how many lots exist.

    I cannot name the winery because of legal reasons, but I was asked to testify in a law suit in which a winery sued another company over wine lost in an accident. It turned out the winery had sold out of the wine in about eight months and simply went out on the open market and purchased wine in bulk and bottled it as their own under the same label. In discovery, it was found that the lost wine had 20% Chenin Blanc purchased at wholesale at a price way below what labelled grape would have cost.

    Unless wineries are required to identify separate lots, whether they are bottling wine in California or Spain or Morocco, these kinds of events will continue to happen. Sometimes it will be only a slight difference in character as in the Ste. Michelle and Mondavi examples above, but the potential for mischief when anybody can bottle several lots under the same label is real and the Sierra Carche is not the only bad example.

    There is one more aspect to this situation that has not been explored. The wine in question was tasted in a restaurant with the distributor present, not in a blind tasting on neutral turf. Who knows whether the wine would have rated very differently if tasted blind against its peers.


  9. Very informative article. This Robert Kenney should be a detective!!!


  10. Unfortunately, Robert Kenney is the true victim here. After buying cases of this wine, on the recommendation of Jay Miller, Robert tasted a few bad btls. Rather than go public with a bad TN, which most of us would have done, without issue, Kenney shipped a btl to the critic who bestowed this wine 96 points and asked him to restate the wine. Kenney did this in a quiet manner and without fanfare. He handled this very respectfully. What transpired next is sad and very unprofessional. Kenney was ignored by Miller, whom Kenney had been very vocal about previous to this in a positive fashion. Now, Miller has no one to defend his actions going forward except Robert Parker.


  11. “Unless wineries are required to identify separate lots, whether they are bottling wine in California or Spain or Morocco, these kinds of events will continue to happen.” – Charlie Olken

    All EU member states are required to indicate the LOT number on food products (that of course includes wine) as of 20 June 1991.

    It does, however, require some detective work to find that number on a wine bottle as it can be printed on the front or back label, on top or the side of the capsule. Some producers even “try to hide” this information/number by printing it in the same color as the label or capsule color. (I wonder why?)

    In a few cases, it is possible to make assumptions about the number of lots a vintner produced if you manage to taste every single wine of a particular winery. Example: Kuenhof, a very small producer in Alto Adige, makes four white wines which are labeled: Sylvaner L1, Veltliner L2, Gewürztraminer L3, Riesling ‘Kaiton’ L4. It is obvious that Mr. Peter Pliger only makes one single lot of each wine (I know this to be true.). The same lot numbers repeat on his labels with each new vintage. Some wineries prouduce 10, 20, etc. different lots of the same wine.

    I have been selecting wines by lot numbers since 1992 – a year after lot numbers started to appear on every bottle of wine – when I discovered that ‘bottle variation’ often is just the result by mixing up different lots. Due to the lot numbers I’ve been able to offer my clients the wines I tasted and selected on my wine buying trips – not only VERSIONS of it.

    Back when German wineries made wine in ‘Fuders’ it was very simple to keep track of lot numbers. If you bought more than 1,440 bottles you ended up with 2 different lots (Fuders) as one barrel (Fuder) produced just about 1,440 bottles. As a result, bottle number 1,441 had a different AP Number as it came from another/next cask. So in a way, German vintners were the first to separate different lots of the same wine with lot numbers on their labels (the last digits of the AP number give you the lot number and bottling year: 0599 = lot 5, bottled 1999).

    IMHO, it would be a good idea if other countries, outside of the EU, would start to come up with a similar bottle lot identity system. — That will be the day.


  12. Hi Manuel, thanks for the kind words on your blog! Marta too, glad you liked it.

    Mark, James and Charlie raise great points about transparency and traceability. The labeling of lots is potentially very helpful to the consumer, especially in a situation such as this. That’s very interesting, James, about looking for bottle variation and lot variation.

    When do you think we will see lot numbers on American labels? If so, will they have to be 100% accurate given that the highest threshold for accuracy of other claims on labels is only 95%?


  13. Btw, this reviewer in Quebec says that his Sierra Carche 2005 is a blend of Syrah and Merlot! I wonder if the SAQ would accept returns?

    Jumilla 2005 Crianza Sierra Carche. Très – très – beau vin rouge espagnol, fait à parts égales de Syrah et de Merlot, bien coloré, élevé en fûts de chêne français et américain, et qu’on pourrait prendre à l’aveugle pour un vin du sud de la vallée du Rhône. Le bouquet est ample, très fruits rouges, épicé (le bois), la bouche charnue, corsée, avec des tannins solides, mais enrobés, qui ne sont pas sans rappeler Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 14% d’alcool. Sérieux (62 caisses). S, 11034919, 32,75$, *** 1/2, 17,7/20,$$$1/2, 2009-2014.


  14. Dr. Colman, how cynical of you! Maybe the sample tasted in Quebec is indeed a syrah and merlot blend. Lot variation, maybe? ;)


  15. Some updates: financial columnist Felix Salmon has posted a lengthy piece about Sierra Carche over at his blog on reuters.com.

    Also, the winemaker of Sierra Carche, Marcial Martinez Cruz, has posted on the forums to admit there was an error and lot 7033 was actually not Sierra Carche (it was another reserva wine) but was labeled as such. Then he categorically denies that what Jay Miller deemed “undrinkable” was from this lot, however. Bottles from all lots have been sent to a lab for analysis. Returns will be honored and he instructs consumers wishing to return the wine to email screturns2005@yahoo.com if they have any difficulties


  16. [...] This phenomenon, dubbed “the Sierra gap,” (no, after the Sierra Nevada mountains, not Sierra Carche!) comes from the 2008 Wine Market Council survey. Fully 63 percent of Californians think that [...]


  17. Tyler:

    On Tuesday the winemaker of Sierra Carche, Marcial Martínez Crúz, posted on Wineberserker’s bulletin board that there was 18,000 liters of wine in a tank to be bottled as the 2005 Sierra Carche. That amount yields 24,000 regular size wine bottles (750 mL) if you do not take into account losses during bottling. According to Marcial, the whole lot of 18,000 liters of wine destined to be the 2005 Sierra Carche was bottled in two days.

    The first 20,000 bottles of the 2005 Sierra Carche were assigned as lots L8113 and L8114. The remainder of the bottles, 3,600, was held by the winery without labels (clean skin stock) and they were assigned as lot L7033. 1,050 of those 3,600 bottles were sent to the US after “the wine’s successful reception among customers and reviewers”.

    Last night A.Kohn posted on Parker’s board that his bottle was from lot L7033 but the label stated bottle 20,081 out of 21,000.

    Today Marcial posted on Wineberserker’s and Parker’s bulletin boards that 2,400 bottles of the winery’s special selection were labeled incorrectly as 2005 Sierra Carche lot L7033.

    At this point there are three lot numbers, three total production numbers (16,000, 20,000 and 21,000) and too many questions left unanswered.

    It appears that this story keeps getting more convoluted every time someone from the winery or Well Oiled Wine Co makes a statement. We will se what happens with this saga.

    SALUDos,
    José


  18. There’s one easy solution:
    Critics should buy all the wine they review,
    From places where ordinary people can too.


  19. “There’s one easy solution: Critics should buy all the wine they review,From places where ordinary people can too.”

    Unfortunately, it is not that easy. See Charlie Olken’s comment above: “The Mondavis were never coy about the fact that their Fume Blanc was bottled in several lots. They were pretty clear to argue that the lots were of equal quality. But here is the thing. They were also clear to state that the first lot was the one whose fruit allowed it to stand on its own while the last lot was the one that needed oak to fill in its holes.”

    In regards to European wines it would help if every serious review would include the Lot number. Of course, if you deal with a cellar that labels the wrong bottles with the wrong labels and only discovers the ‘mistake’ after a consumer goes online and spills the beans, a lot number becomes worthless. There’s only thing left that will protect consumers: A government official “bringing this cellar up to the required EU code”.


  20. There are reasons why critics should buy wine, but the existence of multiple undisclosed lots of wine under the same label is not going to be solved by that process.

    Not until all lots of wine are identifed by lot number and bottling date and that information is included in the relevant review will we get on top of this problem. When that happens, and wineries fess up to their practices, consumers will no longer be taken for rides by the “first lot” syndrome in which the marketplace and the review community gets the single best lot of wine that is going to appear under that label.

    Buying a wine when it first appears is no guarantee against changed character in subsequent bottlings. And folks, if the system ever changes, will you really want to read reviews of seven lots of somebody’s $12 Chardonnay?


  21. What a mess. No one seems like a winner from the event that transpired. It’s unfortunate that it likely stirs consumer distrust at that. While I’m more of the type to taste something before I buy vast quantities, Robert should never have been faulted for his enthusiastic purchase.


  22. Charlie and James – thanks for these comments. Very interesting observations.


  23. [...] recent saga of Sierra Carche exposed some cracks in the process of wine making, wine reviewing, and wine buying. For those who [...]


  24. I saw this wine at Costco about 8 months ago and bought one bottle. It was one of the best wines, if not the best, I ever had. I recall it was of the “20,000” lot. I then searched for it again and bought two more bottles from the lot L7033 or “21,000”. I have not tried these. I did find 6 more bottles with production numbers 381-386 out of “20,000”. I drank one of these and it was the same as the first bottle. I’m thinking I’ll be dissapointed by the 2 bottles in L7033….


  25. Why post anonymously, Grandma?


  26. [...] daily email, or free monthly updates by email (right sidebar). Thanks for visiting! Remember the saga of Sierra Carche? Here’s a reminder from our earlier coverage: “What happens when a reviewer tastes a [...]


  27. [...] if the study is somewhat backward looking as consumers are getting more independent. Consider the Sierra Carche incident; if Robert Kenney would have just accepted that it was a 96, he would have drunk it and [...]


  28. I’m drinking this wine right now. It’s bottle #04640 of 20,000 purchased from Wine Library in May of 2008 for $29.99. I will admit, the smell is very off-putting – a very strong scent of what I can only describe as sweaty, taco spices. (Strange, I know.) There is zero fruit on the nose – the spice and alcohol on the nose overpower everything. On the tongue, though, it’s actually not bad. Because of the smell I immediately expect to taste a ton of black pepper and soil, but there’s actually a lot of blueberry, sage, a little bit of earth and then the pepper and spices show up on the finish. It is a very odd wine, and it certainly is not a cocktail wine nor a wine you can spring on someone who knows nothing about wine. I bet it would drink pretty well, though, with a spice-rubbed steak or even some pulled pork.

    I’ve had a bottle previous to this and based on both experiences I would buy this wine again, albeit I think it tastes more like a $18.99 wine and a 88-90 pointer than a $29.99, 96 pointer.


  29. @JoeSommelier,

    Based on your note, it sounds like you had the same awful stuff we did. The fact that you would consider that junk a 90 point, $20 wine, is mindblowing to me.

    I would love for you to put it in a lineup of 10 90 point (NOT JAY MILLER) wines that cost $20ish.

    I am sure you would regret your purchase.

    Sorry to be so blunt.

    FYI, we drank our Sierra Carche with great Filet Mignon and it still sucked, with or without food.


  30. @Daniel Posner

    Well, I guess you showed me didn’t you?

    I came back to this wine after an hour of it being open and drank it with turkey tacos. The off-putting smell had dissipated and was replaced by mild accents of blueberries. The taste profile changed a little from when I first opened it in that the wine became more one dimensional, but I still think overall the wine was sound.

    Was it a great wine worthy of 96 points? No way. Was it a drinkable wine with some enjoyment? It was, actually. Upon further reflection I don’t know that I would pay more than $12 – $15 for this wine. Then again, I rarely buy wine at that price point unless its for guests that no zero about wine.

    BTW: eat a man steak next time – Filet Mignon is for girls. There; now I showed you and we are even and I feel better about myself.


  31. JoeS,

    You are getting closer to reality…still a 90 pointer?

    Sorry for being brutally honest. Have you checked out Dr. Vino’s part II of this wine from September?

    A good read…


  32. @ Daneil Posner

    90, 88, 65, who cares? A rating is not going to change my opinion of the wine. I treat ratings as nothing more than a guideline as do my clients. I’ll check out Dr. Vino’s Part II but it still won’t change the experience I had with this wine. Perhaps it just shows I have a shitty palette – oh well.

    I don’t mind the honesty at all. I’m a big boy – I can handle it.


  33. I just think that you are being over generous with your notes/score. But that is just my opinion, you are clearly entitled to yours.

    Dr Vino and I had 4 btls of this stuff, served blind. Interesting to read. It sounds like 3 of our btls match your descriptors.

    And FYI, you gave it a point score, not me.

    I do not score wines.

    Thank you for responding.


  34. @Daniel Posner

    Touche – I did give it a score but only in the context of the original Jay Miller score of 96.

    I read Part II – I wouldn’t say the descriptors given match mine. I didn’t taste burnt rubber or “roadkill” (not that I would know what that tastes like anyway). Perhaps my palette is not as evolved as those involved in your blind tasting. Cest la vie. There’s too much history surrounding this wine, though, to ever recommend it to anyone so I guess belaboring the point is an excercise in futility. There way too much great wine out there to drink anyway.

    Thanks for the spirited debate.


  35. Wine Library is not refunding the Sierra Carche 2005. I have asked for their refund policy and they have not responded. They were very quick to hype this wine now I can’t even get a response. beware


  36. John Fields,

    Did you contact Brandon Warnke, Vice President of Operations at Wine Library, who posted on erobertparker.com that anyone who bought the wine through the store could return it to them for a full refund?


  37. I have sent 2 emails to help@winelibrary.com which is the adress they say to use on the website but I will send a copy to him.
    Thanks


  38. John Fields,

    I called WIne Library today (11/12/09) and within two seconds they told me to return the wine for a full refund.


  39. Brandon Warnke at Wine Library got involved and I received a full refund upon the return. I’m glad to be doing business with them again.


  40. Zachy’s is selling the wine as I write this, on February 8, 2010. It showed up on the shelves in the last week. Zachy’s also has been selling the Pico Madama for months, with the 95 rating from Jay Miller.


  41. Tommy

    Many stores still show this wine on Wine Searcher.

    I guess the importer forgot to contact some of them.

    They should use Robert Parker’s wife rating of 93 points on this one!


  42. [...] taster Jay Miller and the Sierra Carche debacle? You can get an idea of the whole saga here and here but to save time, basically Jay Miller tasted and rated a wine that was not representative [...]


  43. [...] and the Pacific Northwest too) had to end in tears for someone. It began several years ago (the old Sierra Carche affair) and since then it seems that wherever Miller put his feet, someone had laid a jaw [...]


  44. [...] quite match the availability of source material? Otherwise nonexistent or limited bottlings that impress critics or competition committees but don’t reach the public in identical form? Both old and ongoing [...]


  45. Having a bottle now– bottle 03760 of 20000. Opened 6 hours. It’s okay. Not flawed. Good color . Not much nose. Tannins gone. Some fruit. Better than first two bottles drank 18 months ago. Don’t think it will improve. Not worth the $30 I paid when released at Wine Library.


  46. No Nose

    No tannins (no structure)

    Some (read no) fruit)

    Why would you open for 6 hours before consuming?


  47. 2006 Reignac-Bordeaux
    Bottle variation. I first drank this wine before the good reviews and blow-out discount prices.
    Had the wine on three other occasions.
    One was another killer example of a restrained, refined wine at a daily drinking price point.
    The other two had a noticeable, almost overwhelming nose of burnt rubber and wet locker room towels.
    Green stemmy flavours that did not evolve or dissipate.
    Slight rubber aftertaste.
    The wine seems to be a crap shoot between very good and marginal. Had it two more times. One very good and one very bad.
    Is anyone else having this occur?
    Is this an example of lot variation or a possible scam?


  48. Lin Port

    I had a btl this past week (off a wine list in DC).

    My experience was very similar to yours, without decanting.

    This wine is D E A D…dead dead dead!


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