As I write these columns and delve into the intricacies of what makes a wine taste as it does, I am sometimes hit by the thought that I am not answering the reader’s most pressing question; which is, often, where can I find a good wine with character for under (say) £7? I can’t give that sort of recommendation, because I write too far ahead of publication for there to be much chance that the wine will still be on the shelves when The Whistler reaches you. What I can do is use a recent discovery of my own to point to certain principles. Continue reading Wine Scores – should we trust them?
There cannot be many wine lovers who aren’t aware of the phenomenon that is Robert Parker, the American wine critic. For nearly 30 years controversy has raged around this man who, it is said, “makes and breaks the market” for fine wines. The pro-school point to his independence and integrity in relation to producers, his ‘ordinary bloke’ anti wine-snob stance, his awesome work rate – this is a man who can taste 10,000 wines a year and still write cogent notes and run a successful business, his wine review The Wine Advocate. The ‘not so keen’ school talk about his soulless scoring system – all wines tasted are graded out of 100, the ones collectors seek out are his 90+ wines; his mono-themed palate which favours huge testosterone-packed wines with ultra ripe fruit and high alcohol; and overall the sheer audacity/unfairness that one man’s palate can determine the success of a wine when, to most of us, it is perfectly obvious that taste is a subjective area and heavily influenced by location, ambience, food and company etc.
Continue reading Pleasing the Emperor