When I was half way through a blind tasting of 42 wines from Rioja, a thought struck me: why do magazines still organize their correspondents along regional lines? Some of the Rioja wines I was tasting had regional character and they, obviously, could be evaluated alongside some of the other wines from the region.
But some of the wines were so extracted, bathed in lavish oak, and made in a new world style and clearly seeking Parker points and high prices. These wines, it seems to me, should be evaluated against other such wines. Araujo versus Aro if you will.
In fact, we could carry the logic even further and change labels to state what really matters for these wines. See above.
We wine tasters are not the only ones tasting under blind conditions–consider this excerpt from the excellent August 13 New Yorker article about fraud in the Italian olive oil market. But we’re more social, since many wine tasting panels don’t isolate tasters in cubicles but actually welcome discussion among the tasters. Also, I’d gladly slurp–sorry, do a strippaggio–with wine instead of EVOO any day. To Italy, after the jump: Read more…
Who wrote these words:
“The tannin has become more supple, the texture is sensational, and the wine is like a towering skyscraper in the mouth without being heavy or disjointed.”
a) Santiago Calatrava
b) Donald Trump
c) Robert Parker
d) the DC Madam
OK, people, did you really think that numerical wine ratings were objective? This gem has just been transmitted to the Dr. Vino Mobile World Headquarters, from Robert Parker’s interview earlier this year with the Naples (FL) Daily News:
For most people, I think, giving 100 points is almost setting up a situation for the people who are reading it … to be disappointed because you have somebody who’s well-known and has credibility saying it’s perfection in wine. And there’s always the issue: Is there perfection in wine?
I’ve always tried to explain it saying that, you know, I’m a very passionate person and an emotional person. I really think probably the only difference between a 96-, 97-, 98-, 99-, and 100-point wine is really the emotion of the moment. (emphasis added)
He admits elsewhere to being a supertaster, but here he says he’s no cyborg! There you go: relativism in ratings! That’s what I just mentioned in the comments section to Jay Miller, a critic at the Wine Advocate. Join the fray with your comments! Or see Jay Miller’s comments on the science of olfactory analysis.
Jay Miller, critic at Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, entered the fray with a couple of comments yesterday. Since these postings received many reader comments initially, I thought I would flag his reactions for you here since sometimes new comments can get lost.
Here’s the thread on grade inflation in wines. He comments about the trend and specifically discusses his recent reviews of Spanish wines, which included many high scores.
And here’s another one when I met him and tasted some Argentine wines with him.
Here’s a taste of his comment:
The palate fatigue argument, frankly, is total hogwash. The principal difficulty for amateurs is maintaining concentration, mental fatigue, not physical fatigue. Someone mentioned doing no more than 12 wines; that’s 30 minutes work. You taste, you spit, you write a note, taste again, spit, add (or not to your note) and on to the next wine. When you’ve had practice doing this, it’s simply not difficult.
But he concludes with this compliment: “Anyway, I like this site. I’ll try to get back more often.” Always welcome!
House of Mondavi’s crumbling foundation
“But by early 2004, Robert Mondavi Corp.’s reputation for high-quality wines had eroded, and the House of Mondavi was rent by conflict. His hand-picked successor, son Michael, had been removed as chairman, and the Mondavi family was on the brink of losing control of the company. Indeed, behind Michael’s ouster was a closely guarded secret: Robert faced a personal financial crisis that threatened to embarrass him and destroy his legacy.” [WSJ, with video!]
Are wine ratings pointless?
“A wine gets rated one time — a nanosecond in its life cycle,” says Sebastiani winemaker Mark Lyon. “From then on, its fate is determined. Aren’t wines always evolving? Shouldn’t they be rated every year?” From a story by W. Blake Gray in today’s SF Chron
“Boxed wine really does keep for six weeks, but would we keep one in our refrigerator for that long? There are so many interesting, affordable wines on the shelves that we’d rather taste several wines than one in a big box.” – John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter. But what about the low low price per glass if you can find a good one?!? [WSJ]
Do futures have no future?
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to play this game? I hope 2006 will not be a success. I hope it will really show the Bordelais the shortcomings of the system.” -Jancis Robinson in a podcast on Bordeaux futures, aka “en primeur”
So has he jumped the shark?
“BusinessWeek, US Airways in ad deal: Magazine will put Welch and wine columns in skies” [SF Chron]
Consumers who suspect they may never escape the omnipresence of wine god Robert Parker and management gurus Jack and Suzy Welch will soon have one more reason to think so: Starting next month, columns by Parker and the Welches will be laminated onto airplane pull-down tray tables as part of a deal to sell advertising on US Airways planes.
Last week I had the chance to taste with Jay Miller, Ph.D., whose duties include vast swathes of the wine world ranging from Australasia to Iberia to the Pacific Northwest. I met with him to taste wines of Argentina. Dr. Jay and Dr. Vino, mano a mano. Or at least Riedel a Riedel.
I didn’t have to travel to Monkton, Maryland. The setting was actually the Argentine Consulate in midtown Manhattan. I walked into the palatial room, which must have been 40 x 25 w 12 ft ceilings, complete with friezes. On one side, Jay Miller was seated at a table with two settings. On the other side were hundreds of wine bottles, even more hundreds of Riedel glasses, and a small flock of people to pour. Read more…