For some reason (maybe I look trustworthy?), I’ve had a disproportionately large number of conversations with winemakers in which they divulge to me that they are upset about a myth/misunderstanding/half-truth/whatever being perpetuated by members of the wine media.
This could be things such as –
1) inaccuracies regarding long-held notions about a growing region, or
2) the supposedly (but grossly oversimplified ) poor performance of an overall vintage or a particular grape in a particular place, or
3) someone getting the historical facts about a producer’s or region’s history wrong, etc., etc., etc.
The not-so-subtle implication in those conversations is that wine media are abusing their positions of power in perpetuating these inaccuracies, misinformed opinions, and the like.
Far be it from me to disagree with these moderately-pissed-off folks. In the vast majority of cases, they have excellent points (hey, do we need yet another example of a wine from a supposedly “poor” vintage outperforming and outlasting wines from a supposedly “superior” vintage?). And they are usually much bigger than I am (even the girls).
BUT (and you knew that was coming)…
These same people (most of them, anyway) fail to see the hypocrisy in which their legitimate complaints are steeped. And as we’re about to see, those complaints are absolutely dripping in it, like a pair of feet are dripping with juice after they’ve have been stomping Port grapes in the lagares all day…
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It’s been too long since we had a 1WD TV episode, and so today I give you a hastily-recorded (but carefully considered!) take on the arguments both for and against the inflation of wine ratings by popular wine critics (yes, there is a good argument against it!):
1WineDude TV Episode 58: The Arguments For and Against Wine Ratings Inflation
Mentioned in this episode:
Today, I thank YOU for being you and putting up with my freakish take on wine reviews, I make good on losing a bet, and I ramble a bit about why wine reviews aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. This one’s raw, but it’s from the heart. So watch, if you’re so inclined, and then just vote already, will ya?!?
1WineDude TV Episode 51: On Wine Reviews
[ Editor’s note: this article is not an easy one to follow, because the topic is not an easy one to get your head around; intrepid readers will want to stick with it, though, because I think the conclusions are fodder for some amazing discussion on their implications on wine criticism. ]
The world of wine critique is fraught with logical contradictions.
Case in point: take this excerpt from a recent interview with critic James Suckling on Liv-Ex.com on the topic of evaluating wines while they are still in the barrel, as is often done during En Primeur in Bordeaux (emphasis mine):
“The key thing to remember is that the nose isn’t important at all. I learnt that from Daniel Lawton, one of the great negociants of Bordeaux. The important thing is the texture – the quality of the tannins and how they relate to the acidity and alcohol – and then the finish. Wines with long seamless finishes are really the great wines. It’s not all about power. It takes a long time before you can taste En Primeur properly. There’s a hierarchy in Bordeaux that helps as you can kind of figure out what should taste good. But to really understand how wines evolve you need a good 10 years of tasting.”
The logic issue here is that we know scientifically that the vast majority of our sensory experience in tasting wine comes aromatically and retro-nasally. So one (but not the only!) interpretation of the above quote is that En Primeur ratings are meaningless, or at least limited in value to consumers, because the aromas – and therefore the majority of the wine’s sensory experience – cannot be fully evaluated. The contradiction being that the wine world largely treats those ratings as not having any such limited usage.
Issues like that one crop up all over the place in the wine world, if you’re willing to look hard enough. And so it should be of little surprise to many of you when I tell you that the act of rating wines falls squarely into what is commonly called “bad science” in the scientific world…
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