Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Blind tasting can be so enlightening.
I love how people can criticize a person for reviewing wines poorly in a blind tasting...
http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/sho ... p?t=212949
First of all, how come people cannot accept it when an ESTABLISHED critic scores wines on the low to really low side?
Second, I love how Peuker comes out and has something negative to say and ties it back to German Riesling.
I am not bashing anyone, I am just amazed that people can question a respected critic, who tasted the wines BLIND. In addition, Greg Dalpiaz had a very low score on 1998 Sandrone Cannubi as well.
Heck, Parker gave 2005 Haut Brion 85 points in a blind tasting last month.
Wait, aren't most of these people the ones who complain and cry when there is negative reaction to the scores of a certain Robert Parker???
Apparently I'm lazy, have a narrow agenda, and offer little in the way of content and substance (RMP)
I agree, except if the taster is a prat.
Hmm... I've had the Sandrone recently and I'd stick it in the high 80s. The 96, though, was mediocre.
I think the reaction isn't at all surprising, esp since most of those people will be using Parker's scoring definitions: http://www.erobertparker.com/info/legend.asp
Given that definition where 75 is average and 56 is unacceptable and given the critical reception of those wines by other critics I think it's reasonable to question the scores. Outlier scores (high or low) will always draw commentary. I've not read Gilman's take on this (I don't subscribe) but my first question would be whether the scores really mean what they would in the Parker scaling and if so, whether second bottles were tasted. Even Del Piaz, whose palate I respect a lot, doesn't come close to Gilman's rating - yes 80 is v low for the Sandrone but saying it's 80 (above average) is very different from saying it's 56.
Dang Rick, I think that's right
Actually, having just read the thread, I find Greg's response to be somewhat BS - hopefully he ventures over here to comment. But just for the hell of it, I compared the differences in Greg's blind scores and John's blind scores for the six wines in Miron's original post - on average, John scored the wines 15 points lower than Greg did (and in three cases, the difference was at least 20 points). Now given the fact that the wines were from the same blind bottles, and both Greg and John are presumably knowledgeable tasters, just what is a wine drinker supposed to conclude from these disparate scores?
Sorry, but having both purchased and consumed wine with Greg, I'd have to conclude that John's scores have a built-in bias that forces me to dismiss them and conclude that Greg's are the more accurate.
I'd take a wild leap and conclude that taste is subjective, and your perception aligns better with Greg than John.
Then we're back to 'ccritics are useless' territory. Don't score wines if your tastes are really that subjective. Look, I'm no apologist for scoring, but a 56 in any 100 point systems goes beyond a slight disagreement into 'this is shit' territory. The entire utility of one person's scores and notes to any other people is that they're a reasonably representation of the wine and that the scores reflect not only "I like this" but some ability to weigh the various things that make up a wine and sum them up. For example, I hate the high extract style of Pinot. Hate it. But if I were giving scores to it I'd want to evaluate it on more than "I like it/hate it" and look at the wine's nose, palate, finish, complexity, balance, etc. Certainly personal opinion has to play into this, but a scoring system implies that there's a system at work, not just whims.
I just don't think a critic should simply go "Hmm, I think this is about a 91" but should be able to present some rationale for a score. That might be a certain number of points for nose, finish, etc or it might be more vague, but I'd hope it's not just "I like it, give it 88".
Dang Rick, I think that's right
I find it interesting that there is so much angst over points. Most of the responses ignore the actual note written by Gilman. If you actually read the notes, you understand exactly why he did not like the wines. Aren't we supposed to read the notes rather than just the scores?
Funk is its own reward.
Greg, given that only the scores were linked, how would you propose we do that.
And Jim, I would buy your point if Greg had said 87 and John had said 84 (or even 81, for that matter) - that is a difference that I believe most tasters would say is believable based on the difference in one's subjective palate preferences. But when Greg (who from my prior experiences is a very conservative scorer, especially when it comes to modernist-styled Barolo), rates a wine 89 points, which for him means this is a very nice wine that is a pleasure to drink, and John rates that same wine, from the same blind bottle, with 68 points, which I have to assume without having access to his complete TN means something equivalent to "Do Not Put in Mouth", how do you suggest one reconcile that observation. While I do agree that winetasting is ultimately subjective, I don't believe that it is so subjective that we can literally go from this wine is quite nice to this wine is utter shit with the same bottle of wine unless one of the two tasters had a bias against the style or was clueless (and I am by no means accusing John of the latter).
Well, that's a lot of my point. With just the scores listed -- with no explanation, even general, of why he didn't like the wines -- it's just a troll. It should be seen as such and folks should move along to something worth reading rather than going into a tizzy over something that they cannot possibly understand without more.
If you actually read the notes, Gilman makes clear that he thinks that the poorly scored wines are marred by over-oaking. Divorced from this explanation -- not to mention Gilman's (apparent) general bias against heavily oaked wines -- the scores don't tell us very much.
Funk is its own reward.
Actually it is not hard. You go and register on www.cellartracker.com for free. Then you go to the subscription management page and turn on a free 2-week trial which lets you access ALL of Gilman's past reviews.
I am not sure if these referenced reviews were just published, and if so they won't be integrated for a few weeks:
http://www.cellartracker.com/proissues. ... the+Cellar
-Eric LeVine (ITB)
It rhymes with wine...
Ahh, here is the article: http://www.cellartracker.com/proarticle ... rticle=161
Again, ANYONE can check these out for free with a 2 week trial.
-Eric LeVine (ITB)
It rhymes with wine...
Does it even matter how low the scores are? These are expensive wines we are talking about. I don't consider myself a point "ho" but I am not buying a $100 bottle of wine that is not considered at least "outstanding" by people with palates that align with my own, unless I have personally tasted a particular wine and have experience with how the wines age, etc. Practically speaking, what is the difference between an 85 or a 55 for an expensive wine? There is so much talk about scoring systems and the meaning of the 100 pt scale-- but how many of us are willing to finish a bottle of wine that we would rate at 80 points?
Let's face it, few of us buy sub-90 point wines unless we have tried them and know something about the winery. Just ask the retailers. For that matter, I wonder how the 2007 CDP's that "only" scored 90 or 91 points are selling?
I think the explanation we're dancing around is that in some people's scoring systems, 56 is "this is shit," while in other people's scoring systems, the "this is shit" range is pretty much anything under 89. If Gilman had written, "This wine is shit. 89 points," nobody would be bitching.
I have now read the reviews and he lays out his case very well. One of the wines he calls the "most successful of the modernists" based on the aromatics then goes bat shit crazy that they put that wonderful raw material in bondage with way too much oak. I agree wholeheartedly that that deserves punishment scorewise if you are a points guy.
Imagine if someone took Miles Davis; Kind of Blue and remixed it with a big thumping disco beat down the middle and orchestra stab samples on the chord changes....you'd be giving that a 56 too!
É prohibido prohibir!
I read through this thread on eBob earlier today and found it interesting. Clearly this has to do with style. If you look at all the wines he gave unfavorable scores to, they are all new oak style wines. Not really shocking, and appreciate the fact that this was a blind tasting.
Two things that I don't think folks should miss.
This is 1 man's opinion
It's not a legendary vintage (a la 96 or 01)
Everyone has the right to score something 56 points, hell, 7 of us did the other night with my second bottle at dinner ;)
ITB, Wine Library in NJ.
"You really aren't looking for wine reviews after all. You're looking for validation and your petty attacks on John because he awarded a wine a shocking low score are pretty damn ridiculous."
Trust your palate, people-John Gilman does.
Bumpy monkey butt
Roberto - wouldn't you be calling that the latest groundbreaking sounds from Brazil?
Not in the least. Miles had to reach out to Hermeto Pascoal and Airto Moreira to get where he go to in the Bitches Brew era. They were already there...
É prohibido prohibir!
He did not like the wine. He scored it so. He explained himself pretty well in his review. The tasting was blind.
Too often, I see notes like, this wine sucked...86 points.
I have now read all of the review and I think this guy is my new favorite English language wine critic. He tells in detail EXACTLY why he gives the scores and I agree with him on all of it. Especially "this wine does not even taste of nebbiolo, let alone Barolo. Ugh!". A real straight shooter who doesn't let previous reputation color his views. Where have I heard before that that is a good idea?
É prohibido prohibir!
We should all appreciate a guy that pulls no punches and a guy who justifies his reviews.
People questioning him have not read the reviews, nor do they care to know the critic in question. But they defend critics who lie about how they taste wines, who they go on vacations with and who pays for their meals and wine trips. Gimme a break.
Sorry, not a bash against the critics, but against those breaking John's balls without knowing the facts.
I will take the honest critic, thank you.
I would be happy to send anyone the newsletter with the 1998 Piemonte feature if they do not want to go to Cellar Tracker and sign up and read the article there. The wines that scored very low for me at that tasting scored low because I found them technically flawed to the point where they no longer provide any enjoyment now and will most likely continue to dry up further because of their excessive and uncovered wood tannins. As I noted with the Clerico Ginestra '98, aromatically the wine was very promising- marked by its new wood but not out of balance and with great, classic Barolo elements going on in synch with the wood- black cherries, licorice, road tar, lovely soil tones- this was good Barolo on the nose and I had no issue with its new oaky aromatics. But on the palate the wine was screamingly dry and astringent to my tastes- with the wood sloppily applied and searingly dry from the mid-palate back. To my palate, it was so astringent and bitter that I could not spit it out fast enough.
Similarly, with the '98 Sandrone Cannubi Boschis, I scored it even lower as I could not even find any signature nebbiolo or Barolo aromatics or flavors- scents of charred marshmallows, rotting cherries, muddy soil tones and oak resin are not elements that I equate with Barolo. Granted, we all knew this was a 1998 Piemonte tasting, so even though the wines were served blind, we were all looking for nebbiolo signature attributes. But as I mentioned in the tasting note, I had been served a bottle of the '98 Cannubi Boschis a couple of years previously (double blind in that instance) and the wine had shown somewhat better and was scored higher as a result. But this most recent bottle to my mind it was beginning to really slide into decline and had gone past the point where it will deliver any drinking pleasure and was on its way to the grave. And to my mind, its problems were clearly problems generated in the cellars (I see no reason not to give the Sandrones the benefit of the doubt and assume that they used nebbiolo to make the wine, and then somehow contorted it so out of shape through the use of roto-fermenters or cultured yeasts or extraction enzymes or raw new oak or micro-oxygenation or all of the above), that is why the wine scored so low.
Some folks are under the impression that I do not like new oak in my wines, and that is simply not the case. There are tons of 100% new oak wines that I love and have loved over the years- Henri Jayer, Domaine Dujac, Domaine Rousseau's top bottlings, Chateau Figeac, DRC, La Mouline (pre-1995), Chave's Cuvee Cathelin, Le Pin etc, but what I always believe is that new oak is a very difficult vessel to use successfully, and these days for every producer who can handle the wood well, there are scores who botch up their wines with the oak. Why is it that Jacques and Jeremy Seysses of Domaine Dujac (to simply cite one obvious example) can use a very high percentage of new wood and have their wines age brilliantly, whereas so many other Burgundy producers using the same amount of new wood make wines that implode with bottle age? Because it is really hard to use it well and not damage the wines' ability to age. And this is especially important in less well-endowed vintages like 1998 in Piemonte.
In the realm of modern Barolo, I started out as a fan of the genre in general, as IME, most of the modernists really got going with their new style in the 1982 vintage. As an example, I liked and cellared Elio Altare's Barolo bottlings from 1982, 1985, 1988 and 1989 and really liked them- though I think that over time it became pretty apparent that the wines would have aged even more gracefully with less new wood, as the oak element tended to "pinch" the wines on the palate a bit as they aged. But they developed lovely secondary elements on both the nose and palate, smelled of Barolo framed with new wood, and were quite enjoyable in their idiom. Likewise, I have cellared and/or drunk Sandrone's Cannubi Boschis in 1978, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1989 and 1990, and really liked in particular the '82 and '85. Again, these were new oaky Baroli- but they were Barolo. In contrast, the 1978 Sandrone, which was made in a much more traditional style, was not as good as the '82 or '85 IMO, and I much preferred his "modernista" styled wines from these later vintages of the '80s to his slightly rustic '78.
But neither of these producers have stood still, and they have changed markedly the style of their wines in the last decade from the wines they released in the mid-1980s, and these changes need to be commented on. It is my strong perception that producers like Sandrone and Altare are sometimes given a free pass today precisely because their wines from vintages such as 1982 and 1985 were so good- as if their success in the past is in some way a good barometer of how these now remarkably different young wines from these producers will evolve with bottle age. Now I have never visited either Altare or Sandrone, so I cannot tell you what may or may not have changed in their cellar regimen say between 1985 and 1998, but I have tasted both eras in their respective youths and with bottle age, and I can tell you that they have unequivocally changed over this period of time. The wood is much stronger in the wines in the mid to late '90s, and the wood tannins are not covered and integrated into the body of the wines the way they were in the mid-'80s. In addition, the Sandrone wines today do not share the same classic Barolo flavors they had in '82 or '89- the fruit is markedly different and the signature of soil has vanished in the new vintages. If someone tells you differently they have simply forgotten how the wines tasted back then (or never had those vintages)- as the differences are striking.
Now some people may of course love these new styles, and I am happy if they have the wines in their cellars and can enjoy them. My job is simply to observe the positive or negative attributes I find in the wines and report on them as accurately as my abilities will allow- this is what my subscribers pay for my newsletter for in the first place. Taste is subjective, and we should all make sure we drink wines that we like. But liking the new style is one thing and reviewing the wines without commenting on the new style is another matter. The styles of the wines at Sandrone and Altare (just to use a couple of examples) are dynamic and constantly evolving (as they should be- one would not want them to stand pat- but we can differ as to whether their changes are for better or worse), but it seems to me that a lot of their press coverage has built up this inertia that judges the wines in the cellars here year in and year out seemingly based on the reputation of the vintage in Piemonte, without mentioning that "gee, the 1996 Sandrone does not taste a whole lot like the 1982 did at a similar age." And if one dares to question the new style- both as a genuine expression of Barolo and its potential for positive evolution in the cellar- then one must have some sort of personal vendetta for the producers, because everyone else wrote such nice things about the wines.
Just for the record, I did not score the 1998 Cannubi Boschis from Sandrone 56 points- I scored wine number 8 or whatever it was at the tasting 56 points- it just happened to be that when the foil came off it was a Sandrone. Similarly, as a blind tasting recently of '96 Barolo and Barbaresco, wine number 11 turned out to be the '96 Sandrone Cannubi Boschis- which happened to show better than the last three bottles I had of the wine. So I will score the wine higher in the next note I publish for the wine, because it showed better- rather than leaving my score the same because I had already scored the wine previously and now have a history with it. I guess I just forgot to pack my inertia when I hit the road.........
Your honest perspective should earn you more subscribers, not more bashings of your tasting notes.
It is not the palate that concerns me, it is the integrity of the wine critic.
The fact that you do not hide or rush anything under the rug or pull punches, speaks volumes about who you are, in my opinion.
I agree with you that the excessive use of new oak in late '90s Barolo has proven to be largely unsuccessful with age. What is your take on the more recent (toned down) efforts?
The bottle I had of the 98 Sandrone Cannubi over Labor Day weekend simply didn't taste like what John mentions. I'm at a loss to figure that out - aside from bottle variation or a damaged wine in John's case. It just wasn't a 56 point wine. Definitely more open on the nose and generic on the palate, but simply not a DNPIM wine or one that I couldn't wait to spit out. I guess I'll have to chalk this up to different bottles.
Dang Rick, I think that's right
Your post was perfect, explaining your POV yet without being defensive at all. A class act.
Tasting blind is tough and all you can do is go with your palate, experience and gut. Nice job!
If people take issue with this, pay no attention. I know that's not easy, but I hope you can turn away and know that you stuck to your guns. Integrity ... priceless.
Thanks for the detailed analysis. I especially appreciate your efforts to review wines with some bottle age. Also, I appreciate your thoughts re how barolo styles have evolved (for better or worse). More of this type of multi-vintage meta (?) criticism would be very helpful in trying to evaluate potential purchases, especially as prices continue skyward.
Funk is its own reward.
Wait, John, aren't you just a nutter who's looking for attention? You mean, you actually thought about the wines? Ha! Nah, excellent post. Most enlightening. I don't know how people can't appreciate something that's been legitimately thought through, even if they disagree with it. I don't know if I'd agree with your ratings, but I appreciate the perspective.
Wow, the mad rush to salute John for his well-reasoned TNs and integrity misses at least my entire point - I don't have a problem with someone scoring a wine 56 or 68 points if that what they honestly feel. My problem all along has been with the amazing disparity between John & Greg on these same wines - as I said before, in three instances the scoring was more than 20 points apart. At least IMO, that differential exceeds any reasonable bounds of potential subjectivity.
In other words, given that they both sampled the same wines on the same night from the same bottles and managed to come up with an AVERAGE scoring diversity of 15 points, one of them got it wrong.
You guys can now continue to salute John's amazing integrity.