Is a 96-point wine really a 96-point wine? Who said it is, and is it a 96-point wine to everybody? The answer is simple…It’s a 96-point wine to the person that said it’s a 96-point wine…PERIOD! But yet some of the most notable wine publication “bibles” not only believe it, but they put it in writing in their large page glossy magazines. Even stranger, they publish the ratings with a short synopsis of “their” tasting notes. Really? Did everybody smell or taste the tar, lead pencil or crushed granite? How about the decomposing moss on a forest floor? Of course not. What’s even more unusual than their rating is that they then note that there were 12 cases produced by some Chateau de Fluff Fluff in France selling for $1500 per 750 jug! So what’s the purpose other than to say “I give this magnificent wine 96- point”? With only 12 cases being produced in France no less, I’ll never taste it, and neither will you. But do you care? I sure don’t.
Just to prove my point about the all-mighty palate, and if you have the chance, take a gander at some of Gary Vaynerchuk’s tasting videos, which can be found on YouTube and his Facebook site. I respect this guy because he comes up with the most, let’s say unusual nose and taste perceptions of wine. He’ll say something like “Do you remember the smell you got when you walked into the high school locker room after sixth period gym class”? Now I have never got that from a wine, but he did, and is he wrong? Absolutely not. As I always note when I talk about wine or discuss a wine with a winemaker, or even friends… “This is what I taste, but you might taste something else. I like it, but maybe you won’t”. Why? Because there are thousands of different tastes and smells in regards to wine, and nobody has the exact same nose or palate as that guy who says it’s a 96-point wine. I myself have a palate that’s hyper-sensitive to vanilla, and I sense it more than some others, but does the next guy at the tasting bar? Who knows?
So, what’s the crux of my blathering? It’s very simple…Don’t base your perception of a wine, or purchase a wine on some useless rating by somebody with no sensory relation to that of yourself. Wine critics have a job to do, and some get paid handsomely for it. Some are extremely knowledgeable, well-schooled and respected individuals. I myself have great respect for them as individuals, fellow cork-heads and their vast knowledge of wine and wine regions. My problem is, and always has been, that their proclamations from on-high from the mountain top about wine, is that all their knowledge doesn’t trump another person’s palate…or wallet.
One of my favorite wineries produces a fantastic Cab, at least for my taste. I took a friend there and they said it was way too heavy for their taste. For me it was perfect. If I were to give this wine a rating I would probably say it was 97 or 98 points on the Mr. Wino rating scale. The San Francisco Chronicle gave it a 92, and a blogger friend of mine gave it an 88. I’m sure my friend would have given it an 80 or less. So who’s right, and after hearing these assessments and their ratings, how would YOU decide on whether to purchase the wine or not? The answer is that the only true way would be to taste it for yourself before you plunked down your hard earned dinero.
Speaking about the Almighty Dollar, many times people will rely on their wallets, as I noted above, over ratings or even varietal, when it comes to purchasing wine. How many times have you heard a friend or somebody shout out to pick up a “cheap” bottle of red or white wine for dinner on their way home from work? Over time they may get accustomed to a monetarily pleasing, let’s say Two Buck Chuck. They like the price, and maybe they really like the wine. But are they missing out by not tasting a $3,000 bottle of 2011 Screaming Eagle? Once again, I’d say possibly…maybe…or even who in the Wide Wide World of Sports really knows…or even cares! But wait! How come so many critics say it’s the crème de la crème of Cabs and the best juice on the planet? Here’s one for ya…How many people do you know that’s tasted this grand aviary cocktail from the vines of Napa? I always get a kick out of the answers I get when I ask the question, and I usually get something like “I know this guy whose bother-in-law met this lady in Maui that said her dad tasted it and said it was great”! I guess you can’t get any more of an intimate review than that! I myself haven’t tasted this very possibly over-price nectar of the loudmouthed bird. In my humble opinion is its just supply and demand created by well-known wine critic’s 96+point ratings. But I would like to give it a whirl someday just to see what the big deal is with this “cult” juice.
My overall point is that you seek out the wine, you buy the wine, you smell the wine, you taste the wine and you drink the wine. So, who is the best wine critic in the world to rate that wine? It’s not that 96-point guy, it’s not the synopsis of the 12 case critics, its surly not me, or even your best friend or somebody else’s friend soaking up Mai Tie’s in Maui. So, if you say anybody other than yourself…I have an outstanding vineyard that produces 96-point wine to sell you…cheap!