Monday, September 28, 2009
Wine By The Numbers
In a wine shop you always see little cards or advertisements for various wines stating, '83 pts by Robert Parker' or '96 pts by Wine Spectator'. But how does that really relate to your tastes and the type of wine that you buy? Some people use it as the gospel while I just use it as a guide to try a different producer for a grape or region that I already like. There are some people that come into wine shops with Wine Spectator in their hands, pointing to a specific wine. If the store didn't have that wine, that didn't want anything. There is no other area of our lives where consumers completely and totally take the advice of another. If we buy a car, or television, or diamond ring we would do a little research on our own, talk to some salespeople, try out a few different options or styles... Why not with wine?
At Great Gatherings in Annapolis, I had the pleasure of getting schooled on the whole rating system by The Wine Coach, Laurie Forster. She explained exactly how Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator taste the wines and assign values to certain aspects of the wine in order to come up with the final score out of 100. So instead of taking other peoples opinions, The Wine Coach let us taste 4 wines, assign them our own scores, and then compare them with the 'official' wine scores.
Wine #1 - Manciat Poncet Macon 2007
I started off with a bit of a bias on this one because I love white Burgundies. It scored fairly high for me on all categories except the aroma. There wasn't too much jumping out of the glass with this one, just hints of apple and lemon...typical from the Chardonnay grape of this region.
My final score - 96
Wine Spectator's score - 86
Wine #2 - Yalumba Valley Viognier 2007
Now this one has aroma! A perfumey, peach nose with hints of oak and spice. I doubt this will get much better with age so this one didn't score well in that category for me.
My final score - 93
Wine Spectator - 91
Robert Parker - 76 (Yikes!)
Wine #3 - Alamos Mendoza Seleccion Malbec 2008
Great aromas and flavors on the malbec. Loved the spicy vanilla on the long finish. There were pretty heavy tannins here and a bit of aging may smooth them out some. But I wouldn't hold this for longer than a few years.
My final score - 96
Robert Parker - 96
Wine #4 - Cline Ancient Vines Mourvedre 2007
Earthy aroma with dark fruits, but not a very strong aroma. The Mourvedre lost some points there. The flavors and finish were great with a 'juicy' mouthfeel of plums and blackberries with hints of sweet spice. This wine was made from old vines in California, which means they were at least 20 yrs old I believe. Trying to guess how well a wine will age is always a bit tricky and definitely gets better with practice, practice of tasting wines of different years. But I didn't think this one had that much age-ability, like you can drink it now or you could age it a bit.
My final score - 91
Wine Spectator - 88
Laurie Forster did a fantastic job with this seminar. And not only did she give us the opportunity get to taste some fine wines, we also got to rate the wines based on our own tastes. She really brought home the fact that only we can accurately know what we will and will not drink. The Malbec that Robert Parker scored as a 96 another person at the seminar scored it in the 70s. He gave the Viognier a 76 and Wine Spectator scored it at 91, even the wine 'experts' don't have the same opinions! So this just goes to show you that your tastebuds are your tastebuds and if you like the wine, it's a good wine.