Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What do point scores mean to me?

Lots of talk of this subject as of late. Good points made on both sides of the wall. Me? I am solidly aground in my use of them. I think they work well for my needs and give me a yardstick to judge all wines that cross my lips.

When reading others notes I really have no use for the points UNLESS I know the tasters preferences. Descriptors are more important to me than point scores 98% of the time.

I know what I like in a wine, but does that mean your button pushers are the same? No way.

I agree with BS, professional critics scoring schemes are different, but not. You must find a critic you align with, and only then feel comfortable relying on his scores can you purchase on his recommendation, but remember, there is nothing like tasting for yourself and making your own judgement.

Let's not abolish points just yet. They have a place, even if it's under your own roof.

But what the hell do I know?

"Where did all my Bordeaux go?" or 'Where's the fruit?"

I started 'this thing of ours' in 1981. Wine was relatively inexpensive and bargains were plentiful. The 'boom' had not hit yet, at least not the boom which has brought us to today's conditions.

I enjoyed Bordeaux from the left bank (more CS based than Merlot). I was able to get wines like 1978 Beychevelle for $11 and 1982 Lafite Rothschild futures for $300...a case!

It took some time, but I was able to build up quite a nice collection. Moderately rare Bordeuax going back to the teens (1918 Calon Segur) by tapping some of the great cellar auctions like Delmonicos in NYC. I had amassed many top vintages of the 40's, 50's, 60's and 7o's. I remember bidding on a pair of 1926 Mouton Rothschilds. When the bidding went above $200 for the pair I stopped. I also remember bein offered a newly Chateau re-corked 1934 Lafite on sale at Sherry Lehman for about $150. By time I went back to to the shop, it was gone. I found I had filled my Eurocave quite nicely.

California Cabernet was a very different beast then; monolithic and primary for the most part. Lingering in the back of my mind I had always felt there was something I was missing in all the wines I drank.

Somewhere around 2001 I awoke and realized; I did not like Bordeaux. To me it was funky, barnyardy, missing fruit and just plain amiss. The whole concept of 'secondary nuances' flew past me. In contrast, many of today's California Cabernet's are full of deep red/black fruits, wonderful lush mouth feel, and just all around enjoyable. I happen to like my Cabs young; 5-10 years is perfect, and I am not shy about opening my 2004's either. Why wait? If I enjoy them now, what's to gain? (I love when I see tasting notes proclaiming "wonderful, 95 points! I will wait for my other 5 to get better." Better? There is a high probability they will be disappointed.)

What to do? What to do?

I sold ALL of my Bordeaux and restocked with my beloved newly rediscovered Cabernet. Not just any Cabernet, pure Napa Valley elixir.Don't cry for me...I did OK.

TN: 2005 Saintsbury Pinot Noir Carneros

This pinot noir is well worth its 23 dollar price:

It is somewhat pale in color, but intense, with crimson edges. The nose reveals fresh crushed pebbles & sour red cherries. The palate continues on with the cherries and pebbles with the addition of : tar, leather, violets and a hint of strawberries. The acid level seems right on and the medium texture tannins are well balanced and smooth. A great effort from the entry (I believe) level Pinot in the Saintsbury line. I have had Gevrey-Chambertains costing 3x the price that were not as expressive and enjoyable. Isn't that the real meaning of QPR? 92 points. ($22.99)

TN: 2005 Lucia Syrah Susan's Hill

USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
(11/23/2007)This is a more 'complete' wine when compared to the 2004. The color is deep and dark, almost blue/purple on the edges. The nose is blueberry, blackberry, camphor, and more. On the palate there was the sexiness spoken of, as well as a lushness I don't not usually associate with Syrah. A beautiful deep fruited Syrah that will just get better in the next few years. The tannin and acid level are spot on. A super long finish completes the package. Note to self; get more.
(94 pts.)

TN: 2004 Scholium Project Syrah Scythia Donati Vineyards

USA, California, Central Coast, San Benito County (8/24/2007)Not decanted as long as usual. Super dark purple color. This is one of the smoothest syrahs I have ever come across. Pretty blueberry pie on the nose as well as bruised purple fruits; plums are the highlight. A wonderful integration of tannins and acid create an ultra refined mouthfeel for a syrah. The finish goes on 'til midnight, or at least 40 seconds. Glad I got 5 more in reserve. (93 pts.)

TN: 2002 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon

USA, California, Napa Valley (8/24/2007)The nose on this is phenomenal. Dark fruits & chocolate shoot upward from the glass. Medium color. The palate reveals wonderful cassis, dark cherries, and cocoa. There is an amazing mouthfeel which exhibits the purest expression of cabernet you can find, all wrapped in a wonderfully meshed tannin jacket. This is just so elegant and classy; words are difficult to describe it. 30 second finish sums things up nicely (95 pts.)

TN: 2004 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain (8/24/2007)Decanted 1 hour. Sweet red fruits, cherry pie. Over extracted and very unbalanced. Not flawed, just not.....nice. High acid and never yielding in any sort of 'cabernet as I know 'em' type of way. If this is the new world, stop it, I want to get off.n/a

TN: 2002 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq C├ępages

USA, California, Sonoma County (11/24/2007)Pretty medium ruby color. The nose is all about casis and blackberry with some anise. Quite intense. The palate reveals beautiful pure cabernet qualities of currant, sweet dark fruits, wonderful slight cocoa, and tar. There is a very intense oak quality but this has the fruit to carry it. If I have any complaint its the somewhat high acid level, but its negligable. This is a very elegant intense bottle of wine. A superb finish brings it all home. This was a wonderful deal at $37.00 from Winestilsoldout.com. (91 pts.)