An interview with ‘Robert Parker’s Bitch’ comes to a conclusion I reached a while back with my own palate. Wine is highly subjective, and while lots of people can recognise a real great (everyone I know who tasted Xtant or Silver Oak loved it), I’ve had some wines that The Advocate/The Spectator rated highly that I dumped out.
It’s interesting to learn what it is they seem to like, and now it makes sense that I don’t like some of the things they do.
In the documentary, which features interviews with veteran winemakers and balanced-wine crusaders Randy Dunn and Tom Eddy, the critics are charged with having palates that wield too much power.
More to the point: They like bold, ripe, high-alcohol wines — probably because they hit you over the head and stand out in tasting lineup. As a result, they give wines made in that style coveted scores of 90 points and higher. So, winery owners frustrated with a distribution system that keeps them at a distance from their consumers may pressure winemakers to produce a big Parker darling — or not let the cellar door hit them on the way out.
This helps me understand why sometimes I don’t like some very highly rated wines, as I like a little less fruit and alcohol, and am now drawn more to “old world” style wines (although most of what I buy and drink is from the ‘new world’, and certainly much of it is more of that style). This fruit bomb/high alcohol trend has turned me off of Aussie Shiraz, for example, and I’ve been avoiding California Zins recently too (although Sobon’s is fantastic, and it’s still on the fruit forward side).
I think the key out of all of this is for people who enjoy wine to not take it so seriously, and find what they love based on their palate and the recommendation of a trusted wine merchant. Beltway Fine Wines, for example, has a policy that if they recommend a wine and you don’t like it, you can bring it back.
Reading the big name tasting guys might be interesting, but I wouldn’t base my purchases soley on their opinion.
Link via Lain Bradford on Twitter