People are not going to like what I have to say here, but that is okay, this is not a popularity contest. I do not write about wine to gather as many friends or followers as possible. I write about wine because I love wine and while I know my palate sometimes strays outside of the mainstream, so be it. I know many other people share my tastes or at least a curiosity of what lurks beyond the familiar, so if I can help just those people, well I am fine with that.
Beyond disliking what I have to say about these Bordeaux-style blends, some might even say that I just don't get it. That is fine because if there is something here I'm missing, I'm happy to be missing it. I found enough wines to recommend quite highly, though some of the better-known wines tasted faired less well. I found them formulaic, indistinct, overly oaken and while generous, they just seemed to be over wrought.
Consider that these were buildings, I am simply expressing my preference to Tudor over the Baroque. I don’t mind solid wine as long as I can get a real feeling for all the elements of the wine. Dressing up a massive wine in excessive ornamental oak makes it very challenging to really understand that wine. Most of these Bordeaux-style blends have the potential for, if not the need of, some cellaring. While I do believe that can I forecast the future of many wines to a degree and I am happy to do so with my money, when it comes to spending your money, a higher standard is in order.
Photo courtesy Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr/CC
That is where the trouble begins. Do I fall back on popular conventions that oak does integrate and that certain wines have a penchant for ageing well? Or do I stick by what I taste and admit to you that I am not all certainty and seeing? It is a tough call and goes back to the introduction of this article. I am not here for everyone and I am certainly not here as a definitive authority. So it is with some regret that I admit to you that some of these wines might be fooling me. They might be great wines, but I just can’t see it. I see too much extraction, too much oak and too much winemaking for these wines to be great in my book. Adding in the need for some age just makes the entire calculus even more challenging.
There is of course a difference between what I like and what is good, especially if we are out hunting for the mythical “universal good.” I have stuck to my own guns and scored these wines primarily on what they are showing today. Yes, many have potential and I’ve noted that potential both in the written reviews and built a list of Top Bordeaux Blends to Cellar. As far as the point scores go, that easy shorthand that lets you compare wines, I have tried to make it work for how the wines are showing as opposed to how the wines may show at some indeterminate day in the future.
While I am loathe to turn this introduction into yet another screed on the 100 point scoring system, it is with this group of wines that the inadequacies of the system become most glaring. Many of these wines were built for the 100 point system, quite literally. If we were going to simply mark a series of check boxes when evaluating wine, I’m sure they would score notably higher than they have, but that’s not really what wine is about. Wine is fundamentally about pleasure these days. For anyone spending the tens of dollars a bottle these wines cost, it is all about indulgence.
There are all forms of indulgence and thus all types of palates, but for me a wine should be delicious to be worth buying. You can add on bells and whistles if you want and to a certain extent that may improve your experience with a wine, but once the wine becomes just bells and whistle, what are you left with? Marked off check boxes.