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06.28.2008

The Myth of the Monolithic Wine Palate

If you have more than a passing interest in wine, you've no doubt heard some form of this common complaint: wine critic Robert Parker's palate, with it's emphasis for 'hedonistic fruit bombs,' has ruined the wine world, because now everyone makes (unappealing/monstrous/one-dimensional/sweet/spoofulated/choose-your-adjective) wines that taste the same and have the singular goal of a high point score from Parker.

I have long maintained that this "sky is falling" point of view (perhaps best typified by the irresponsible polemic, Mondovino) and in particular the demonization of Robert Parker's palate as monolithic represents a sort of irrational fanaticism with little basis in reality.

My observations, for as long as I have been following the world of wine criticism, have led me to believe that, contrary to the whining and accusations of many, most of the world's top wine critics tend to completely agree with Parker when it comes to most of the top wines of the world.

And now there's actually been a study that seems to bolster my anecdotal convictions. Conducted by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University, this recently released study was commissioned to examine the hypothesis that the ordered ranking of Bordeaux Chateaux into First Growths, Second Growths, etc. that has been in place since 1855 may no longer be truly accurate. In the process of testing this hypothesis, the researchers have produced the only statistical analysis I have ever seen that compares the rankings of major wine critics across similar wines. And while it was not the purpose of their research, their findings on the correlation of scores between The Wine Spectator, Robert Parker, and Stephen Tanzer are quite remarkable.

In short: these three sources are in near complete agreement on which wines are the best, and they have been for three decades. This result utterly refutes the idea that somehow Parker's "skewed" palate has driven the wine market to a place that it would not have otherwise gone on its own.

Here's one of the charts from the report that pretty much says it all (click to enlarge):

ratings_by_chateau.gif

This graphic shows the ratings for nearly 50 of the top wines of the Medoc region of Bordeaux by these three critical sources. The researchers' primary findings about these ratings are nicely visualized here, namely that there are incredibly strong correlations between all three raters as to which are the better wines, as well as which wines are relatively better than others, as well as the fact that the differences between these raters are consistent. Parker gives higher ratings (by about one third of a point) than the Spectator, which in turn is about a point higher than Stephen Tanzer. Over 30 years of data, even in the cases where there is significant disagreement between these raters, that disagreement is rarely more than two or three points, maximum.

The only way this study could have proved my suspicions any better is if it had included scores from European critics like Jancis Robinson, Stephen Spurrier, Michael Bettane, and Michael Broadbent.

But luckily enough, there's a fairly easy way to answer that "what if?", thanks to a phenomenally useful site called Bordoverview.Com, which lists the scores for several hundred top Bordeaux wines across the past 4 vintages and across a huge range of critics, including Parker, Robinson, Bettane, and the Spectator. A quick pass through the data on that site should be enough to put a nail in the coffin of the myth of the monolithic palate once and for all.

A comparison of the top 20 wines from each of the critics from every vintage since 2004 yields an overlap of more than 60%. I didn't have the time (or the skill) to grab all the scores and run a regression analysis on them, but I'd bet good money that they'd show the same level of correlation, as well as internal consistency that was found by the Cornell study.

Of course, there will be people who will say, "well, that's just the top Chateaux of Bordeaux, what about California, or Burgundy, or Italy, or Australia?" It certainly would be great to do this sort of analysis on scores from the critics for all those regions. But the reality is that the majority of wine critics don't cover all those regions equally. Bordeaux, and the Left Bank in particular, is the ultimate benchmark for wine critics -- every major critic covers nearly every one of these wines every year, and these are ostensibly the best wines on the planet if only judged by broad historical market prices and demand.

So let's just put this one to rest, shall we? If anyone wants to persist in the argument that Robert Parker is ruining wine for the world then they need to answer the following question: how can that possibly be, when the rest of the major wine critics in the world seem to agree with him (nearly wine for wine) and when it appears that some have done so for decades?

I highly recommend you check out the report from Cornell, and that you spend some time playing with Bordoverview.Com.

Oh, and about that 1855 Classification? Looks like it needs a significant overhaul.

Comments (51)

Hank wrote:
06.28.08 at 5:43 PM

Alder, This is an interesting comparison, but does it really prove your point? To me, the only point conclusively proven is that these critics tend to like the same wines. It may be proven that these wines are the ones that stand out in the type of tastings that these critics perform (ie. tasting 60 Paulliac this morning and 65 Margaux after lunch). I would not call this way of tasting to be "real world" oriented, but rather "competition" oriented. So it proves that many of these wines "stand out" against their peers. Does that make them "better", though?
Important for me is to know what types of wines Parker, the Spectator, etc do like, and then use my own judgment of these wines in a real world setting (with dinner, for instance). Many times, I personally have found some of Parker's or the Spectator's recommendation too over the top. Impressive, but not really the kind of wine that makes you want to finish the bottle.
Does that make me a Parker hater? No, it just makes me a person who knows his own tastes and doesn't need to be led by some one else's. In fact, Parker has taught me (and many others) a lot about wine over the years, but part of teaching is to produce students who, eventually, can think and do on their own, without the teacher's guidance. For too many people (and winemakers), his words (or any other critic's words) are golden.
The perspective is what matters.

Alder wrote:
06.28.08 at 6:18 PM

Hank,

Thanks for the comments. A couple of thoughts in response. If this study actually proves that these critics like the same wines, then yes, that REALLY proves my point. People have been saying for years that Parker's palate is different -- more oriented towards a particular style of wine, a style which by implication is "unnatural" or "exaggerated." This study doesn't disprove Parker's affinity for any particular style of wine, but what it shows with some great clarity is that his likes and dislikes when it comes to the benchmark of Bordeaux aren't really any different than the two other major critical outlets in the US (and my claim is that similarity extends across the Atlantic to his counterparts in England and France).

As for "real world" tastings, if every wine critic tasted wines like most people drank wines, they'd only be able to review a couple hundred wines per year which wouldn't do anyone any good. It IS possible to taste a couple of hundred wines in a day and actually be able to evaluate them with a level of objectivity, no matter how "unnatural" that may seem to the average wine drinker. Yes, that means that wines are not had individually with a nice meal, but not only is tasting wines critically with a meal completely impractical, it also makes wines impossible to evaluate on their own relative merits. Real critical tasting designed to place a group of wines relative to one another by virtue of their quality needs to be done in a controlled setting, which by its very nature means that the setting will not be like drinking wine in the "real world" as you describe it.

As for which wines are "better," well when every major wine critic in the world says that the 2005 Chateaux Margaux is exceptional, yes, that DOES mean that this wine is better than others. That DOESN'T mean, however, that you have to like it, or that you have to share the same opinion.

I too have found some of Parker's, Tanzer's, and The Spectator's recommendations do not fit my palate. I agree completely that wine ratings and recommendations shouldn't be taken as gospel. Those who only buy the wines rated 95 and above by their favorite critic are not only robbing themselves of a lot of fabulous wine experiences, they're not learning to think critically about wine.

No one has a monopoly on what tastes good. In fact, no one can even definitively say what tastes good. Only you get to decide that.

Arthur wrote:
06.28.08 at 8:14 PM

Alder,

I seem to recall an article about critics engaging in a rating game. I do not remember the source/publication, but it was published within the last 12 months, I think.

The point that makes - as relevant to this discussion - is that the leading critics seem to be in competition with each other when scoring wines.
Thus, there is an element of them trying to be in line with each other as far as ratings go. This (somewhat) conscious and deliberate effort may be a strong confounding factor in this study at hand.
It is also not unreasonable to think that this is not a real phenomenon (I think Tanzer or Greg Walter of the Pinot Report was as cited as acknowledging it in the article I am thinking of).
The reason just about every car manufacturer seems to have a cross over or an SUV is because they want their piece of the market.
Hence, maybe they are all so concordant because they are succumbing to a “pack” mentality?

On the other hand, the article you reference here does indicate that there discrete trends and patterns to what each critic tends to prefer.

Still, an interesting study.

Arthur wrote:
06.28.08 at 8:25 PM

BTW. If it helps, I think the article may have been in the SF Chronicle or LA Times.

Brian wrote:
06.28.08 at 9:10 PM

Alder: I'm not sure I agree with you here (not that I am any kind of expert in anything) I wonder how your analysis would incorporate, for example, Decanter Magazine's critics, which reflect a somewhat different palate and perspective?? Or, for that matter, Wine and Spirits, which tends to my eyes to represent a middle ground between the Euro crowd and the Paker/Spectator/Enthusiast Axis of Spoof (lol... Just kidding!).

I'm not sure that demonstratying that three critics who have been COLLECTIVELY demonized by the Mondovino/Alice Feiring/Old World school are in agreement proves anything.

Alder wrote:
06.28.08 at 9:15 PM

Arthur,

Thanks for the comments. I'm unfamiliar with the article you reference. I'll do some digging. However, I have a hard time believing that the game as you describe it exists, especially because many of these ratings by critics, especially in the case of Bordeaux, come out so close to the same time after the spring En Primeur tastings. Also, I can hardly imagine Parker, Tanzer, or Robinson validating their scores against someone elses before publishing. I think these people have way too much integrity and self confidence to do something like that.

However, if that WAS going on, then it would explain the results of this survey, but it also wouldn't invalidate my point. Either way the data provide no basis for the stereotype of Parker as having particularly individual tastes that skew towards a certain type of wine, independent of the rest of the critical establishment.

Alder wrote:
06.28.08 at 9:26 PM

Brian,

As I mentioned, the study would more clearly prove my point if it incorporated European critics as well, but have you looked at Bordoverview? Go look closely at their ratings compared to Parker and Spectator for the last 4 vintages in Bordeaux and you'll see an awful lot of similarities.

Also, while I'm aware that Parker and Spectator are routinely lambasted in the same breath, I'm unaware of allegations that Tanzer is "in the same camp."

Jack wrote:
06.28.08 at 10:21 PM

That chart seems to show that Parker more often scores Bordeaux higher than WS and Tanzer.

Why not instead compare, oh, Parker's Cal. Central Coast numbers to that of, oh, Decanter?

You're really not even addressing the issue; Does Parker score 'hedonistic fruit bombs' (which really aren't Bordeaux!) like most other wine critics? Or is he the leader in loving these wines with high scores? And has this resulted in high prices, etc., for these 'hedonistic fruit bombs', the ones he's particularly scored high? You practically manage to skirt this whole issue of your post.

When you have free time (ho, ho, ho), why not correlate wines that have a large number of Cellar Tracker ratings with wines that Parker has given very high scores to? Wouldn't that be more interesting and relevant? (A quick glance shows that Tanzer's scores on Sine Qua Non are dead-on, while Parker's are much higher on some.) Seriously, has Jancis Robinson or someone else at, say, Decanter, given huge scores to, say, Alban?

Alder wrote:
06.28.08 at 10:45 PM

Jack,

Yes, the chart shows that Parker scores bordeaux about .33 points higher than WS, and about 1.3 points higher than Tanzer. But this point difference is consistent across all wineries, for all three reviewers, which means that it's a consistent methodological difference between them. But the fact that the scores are only one point different means effectively that all three of these reviewers have approximately the same evaluation of the quality of all these wines.

How many central coast wines does Decanter rate? Not many. Does Decanter even review Alban or SQN? Decanter's web site shows a single review of Alban's 1997 Viognier. Regardless, that is beside the point (as is whether Parker's ratings drive up the prices of wines).

Why is that beside the point? Because if you wanted to prove that Parker's taste for 'hedonistic fruit bombs' actually has an effect on the wine world, then you'd have to show that a) his tastes differed significantly from other reviewers and b) more and more wines were being made to his tastes.

In fact, what you'd see if the claims of the Mondovino crowd were true was a gradual divergence of scores, where more and more wines were being liked by Parker (and I'm talking about the man himself, not his "crew") and fewer and fewer wines were liked by those critics who supposedly have more "old world" tastes. And where you'd see this effect most pronounced, I believe, would be the place where Parker's ratings had the most effect on the fortunes of those making the wine, and that place is most certainly Bordeaux.

The fact that for decades Parker and Tanzer and the Spectator have been in lock step about Bordeaux means that Parker's palate can't be either as divergent OR as influential (on wine style) as people claim.

Now Parker may indeed rate some wines significantly higher than other critics, but let me ask you this:

If we were going to put to test the claim that a particular restaurant critic had wildly varying tastes from some group whose opinions we trusted, would we not want to look at how they rated the group of restaurants that a) was most commonly rated by all reviewers and b) was generally accepted as the best in the town?

Sure, that restaurant critic might rave about some Vietnamese restaurant that half of the other critics hadn't visited and the other half had mixed opinions on. But if our supposed "rogue" critic happened to rate the top restaurants in the town nearly the same as all the other critics, how could we possibly support the argument that that persons "taste" was skewed?

Yes, this study is limited to Left Bank Bordeaux, which is sort of the equivalent of "only the Italian restaurants" but that doesn't make the findings any less striking, nor any less damning of the arguments that Parker's influence has changed winemaking styles to more suit his tastes and not others.

Michael wrote:
06.29.08 at 1:56 AM

Alder,
I would argue that the 1855 classification is not necessarily outdated. It does not provide a strong indicator of quality - much of the last century has been witness to that - but it is a significant determinant of the price a producer can expect to demand. While Parker scores play a large role in this as well, some studies have found that adding a variable for the 1855 classification to regressions improves prediction of variability in price by about 15%. (See the lit review section of this paper: http://www.wine-economics.org/workingpapers/AAWE_WP01.pdf)

The same paper finds the average effect of a Parker score on a bottle's price to be 2.80 euros [for 2002 (no Parker en premier scores)/2003 (Parker en premier scores)]. My point is that, while modern critics can play a large role in influencing prices, this does not necessarily render the old classification meaningless.

It would be interesting to see if Parker (and other critics) have a similar effect on price for wines from other regions, such as the Rhone or Napa cabernets.

I read the Cornell article and, while I think that their finding of a high correlation between WS, RP and ST scores is interesting, some methodological issues could be driving some of their other findings (the authors mention the use of the highest rating from each taster, but there are others).

Syntax wrote:
06.29.08 at 9:55 AM

Alder...

I'm not certain that you've established (what I think to be) your central points. The fact that Wine Spectator and Tanzer closely mirror Parker's assessments on Bordeaux does not exclude the argument that RP has had a demonstrable effect on both producers and other professional tasters. I would argue that the 100-point numeric system that Parker is credited with having introduced has itself had a systemic effect, and anyone employing it is to some important degree comparing wines through a tacitly agreed upon "metric". (For comparison, compare critics who eschew scores, or those that employ a different system. Schildknecht, one of my favorite tasters, is a fascinating case study: his assessments have changed qualitatively since making the move from IWC to WA and abandoning his "two-star" system.) For better or worse, our age is one which seeks the quick and easy answer and assessments, and the 100-point scale provides that absent of any context. Of course, every critic would argue that the notes provided are more important than the score, that in some sense they provide the missing context, but few critics would be bold enough to argue that the notes are more important in regards to the bottom line than the score. And to read these notes is to see that they offer little or no context for understanding the wine.

This last point also implies another integral dynamic at work here: that wine publications compete--for influence, for readership, for dollars--just as producers do. And nothing sells publications more than 95-point enthusiasm!

Finally, I do think that other posters suggestion regarding comparison of wines other than Bordeaux to be well-merited. What one looks for in Burgundy, for instance, shouldn't be the same qualities one looks for in Bordeaux (or Napa Valley or Barossa). It's natural that tasters have strengths, weaknesses and preferences/biases, and (to overstate the point) looking for the same objective qualitative benchmarks in a Volnay that you note in a Napa Cab is not unlike comparing soccer and American football. Admittedly, the Spectator, IWC and WA--with their multitude of tasters--can now avoid this charge, with critics specializing and presumably possessing different tastes. I say "presumably" because it's disconcerting how much these big score wines the world over tend to have common traits, and more unsettling how limited (and similar) the vocabulary is that is used to convey the such apparently diverse sensibilities and tastes.

When a customer asks me what's the "best wine" in the wine shop or the restaurant, my pithy answer is: "For what?"

Alder wrote:
06.29.08 at 9:57 AM

Michael,

Thanks for the comments. I'm familiar with the paper on Parker's influence on prices, and anecdotally it seems quite likely that his scores influence prices elsewhere.

The 1855 classification was based on a strict rank ordering of wines based on historical market prices. If you do that rank ordering again with the past 30 years of data as these researchers have done, AND add in scores from critics as a "validation" of quality you'll see that there are quite a few Chateaux who belong in other classifications.

That doesn't mean that the existing 1855 classification is worthless however. The classification could still have the 15% effect you talk about in terms of improving accuracy of prices, even if it has significant problems being the sole predictor of price and quality.

Syntax wrote:
06.29.08 at 10:03 AM

Alder...

I'm not certain that you've established (what I think to be) your central points. The fact that Wine Spectator and Tanzer closely mirror Parker's assessments on Bordeaux does not exclude the argument that RP has had a demonstrable effect on both producers and other professional tasters. I would argue that the 100-point numeric system that Parker is credited with having introduced has itself had a systemic effect, and anyone employing it is to some important degree comparing wines through a tacitly agreed upon "metric". (For comparison, compare critics who eschew scores, or those that employ a different system. Schildknecht, one of my favorite tasters, is a fascinating case study: his assessments have changed qualitatively since making the move from IWC to WA and abandoning his "two-star" system.) For better or worse, our age is one which seeks the quick and easy answer and assessments, and the 100-point scale provides that absent of any context. Of course, every critic would argue that the notes provided are more important than the score, that in some sense they provide the missing context, but few critics would be bold enough to argue that the notes are more important in regards to the bottom line than the score. And to read these notes is to see that they offer little or no context for understanding the wine.

This last point also implies another integral dynamic at work here: that wine publications compete--for influence, for readership, for dollars--just as producers do. And nothing sells publications more than 95-point enthusiasm!

Finally, I do think that other posters suggestion regarding comparison of wines other than Bordeaux to be well-merited. What one looks for in Burgundy, for instance, shouldn't be the same qualities one looks for in Bordeaux (or Napa Valley or Barossa). It's natural that tasters have strengths, weaknesses and preferences/biases, and (to overstate the point) looking for the same objective qualitative benchmarks in a Volnay that you note in a Napa Cab is not unlike comparing soccer and American football. Admittedly, the Spectator, IWC and WA--with their multitude of tasters--can now avoid this charge, with critics specializing and presumably possessing different tastes. I say "presumably" because it's disconcerting how much these big score wines the world over tend to have common traits, and more unsettling how limited (and similar) the vocabulary is that is used to convey the such apparently diverse sensibilities and tastes.

When a customer asks me what's the "best wine" in the wine shop or the restaurant, my pithy answer is: "For what?"

06.29.08 at 12:36 PM

Let's face it, the overriding issue is not whether or not there IS a monolithic palate, but rather if a monolithic palate is PERCEIVED. This is my argument. Concerning Robert Parker, Stephen Tanzer, Jancis Robison, et. al. I never read or heard any of these critics make a public claim that their palate, their ratings and reviews were the end all be all of wine judgment. These people are simply in the business to sell magazines, online memberships, panel seats, etc. The problem is not that they (not to exclude all other wine critics, Alder lovingly included) have arrived at such a critical position that "makes or brakes" good wine or bad, the problem is that the common consumers are baaaaahhing all the way to their local wine retailer.

Ultimately these so called "monolithic" palates must agree with many consumers or there wouldn't be such an overwhelming positive response to said reviews. Now many arguments could be made based upon psychology (or sociology even) that would ask whether consumers really do have similar palates to these critics overall or if they are simply persuaded by the power of marketing suggestion. SYNTAX said it well: “nothing sells publications more than 95-point enthusiasm!” I believe neither of these possibilities can be ruled out and all must be considered. However, this isn't where it ends.

I've heard this critique of Critics argument among wine lovers time and time again, and it's has often flowered into countless conspiracy theories involving money exchange from wineries to critics for certain scores. Whether this be true or not doesn't matter to me. The attention on such an issue should not be geared toward endless complaints and finger pointing but rather toward the continually ignored positive. Consumers should be more encouraged to try new things for the sake of their own desires, not those of a magazine or critic. While reviews and publications/blogs etc can be used as great tools for becoming aware of something one may not otherwise be able to discover, or simply an entertainment for sharing a passion in wine, we must remember that just because it's in print doesn't make it law – it's only one persons view. There is a lot of energy directed at feeding the problem everyone here is complaining about, even if it's critical energy. Don't forget the old adage “all publicity is good publicity”.

It seems prototypical human for us to want to blame someone of power for our woes (and I'm guilty as well), but we can't forget the power of human passion. As the general wine drinking public (especially in America) is growing more curious and passionate about wine, the more open people become to alternate forms of education, simply look at the googles of wine blogs out there now (pun intended). But as people continue to explore the world of wine the more their palates change and deeper interest grows. A perfect example of this is the trend of australian wine in the american market over the last few years. Aussie wines saw a huge spike for a considerable amount of time that were touted in tandem with Robert Parker's love for these wines, which often get described as overly alcoholic fruit bombs. These wines of various price points and calibers have been receiving excellent scores for some time, and the American consumer responded. But the market for said wines has plateaued over the past few years, and the ability to sell these wines is gradually becoming more difficult. I know this because I see it everyday as a wine distributor who sells some Australian wine, which has stocked grocers shelves who are reordering less and less. This doesn't get me down though, it thrills me! Peoples palates are growing up, or at least staying curious and trying new things, slowly but surely. This is the energy we, as self proclaimed wine enthusiasts, should be encouraging. To waste our love and time on anything else would be counter to the whole spirit wine exists to encourage!

Drink on!

Arthur wrote:
06.29.08 at 12:43 PM

"Ultimately these so called "monolithic" palates must agree with many consumers"

That is probably true. I would rephrase t this way: "the scores of the critics validate the preferences of the mainstream consumers".

Alder wrote:
06.29.08 at 4:40 PM

Syntax,

First, thanks for the thoughtful comments. My point is not that Parker isn't as influential as people say he is (vis a vis wine prices, etc), my point is that if his taste in wines was significantly skewed towards hedonistic fruit bombs, which by implication are not something that the more "real/honest/old world/traditional/etc" enjoy, then there would be a measurable divergence of his scores from other critics over the years. If he really drives the market to make wines to his taste, and his taste is as "off" as some claim, then Bordeaux would be making more wines that he loves, but that no one else does. The scores from this report and Bordoverview.Com belie that assertion.

Your point about the influence of the 100 point scoring system is interesting, but it's just a yardstick. I don't think merely adopting that system can significantly change your qualitative evaluation of wine. Now, joining a publication like the WA with a culture and a particular point of view, now that most certainly would have an effect, as you have seen with Schildknecht, and your comments about 95 point enthusiasm are right on the money.

The trouble with comparing scores in other regions (which I agree would be fantastic to see) is that a lot of people don't review other regions systematically. We can't fairly compare, for instance, Burghound, Clive Coates, and Parker on Burgundy, because Parker has never really focused on Burgundy. We could compare Parker, Spectator, and Tanzer on California (plus throw in Wine and Spirits and Wine Enthusiast for good measure) but we couldn't include Jancis Robinson or Decanter as their coverage is not nearly as thorough.

Pantagruel wrote:
06.29.08 at 8:12 PM

Gotta agree with others.
All this proves is that RMP, ST, and WS have fairly similar palates as judged by their published record.

The myth lives on.

slaked wrote:
06.30.08 at 9:39 AM

Alder,
I read this post after reading your most recent post on "terroir," and while I don't want to conflate the two, I'd have to say that the best wines on the graph are generally the first and second growths. Is that not true? And I guess my question to you (and the group) is, if we accept at least for the purposes of argument that the major wine critics generally prefer 1st growths to seconds, seconds to thirds, etc., then what is it that makes the first growths better? Is it their parcel of land per se? The use of 100% new oak? Selection at the sorting table? A combination of all 3? To me, I can't understand that the same vineyards have been making the best wines in the world for 150+ years if it's not in the soil. And if the soil is what really matters, then why is it that many, if not most, of my favorite New World producers don't make estate wines, or do make estate wines, but manage to make 95+ point wines from the very first vintage, without any track record? I find this whole thing confounding. It's confounding !

slaked wrote:
06.30.08 at 9:42 AM

Alder,
I read this post after reading your most recent post on "terroir," and while I don't want to conflate the two, I'd have to say that the best wines on the graph are generally the first and second growths. Is that not true? And I guess my question to you (and the group) is, if we accept at least for the purposes of argument that the major wine critics generally prefer 1st growths to seconds, seconds to thirds, etc., then what is it that makes the first growths better? Is it their parcel of land per se? The use of 100% new oak? Selection at the sorting table? A combination of all 3? To me, I can't understand that the same vineyards have been making the best wines in the world for 150+ years if it's not in the soil. And if the soil is what really matters, then why is it that many, if not most, of my favorite New World producers don't make estate wines, or do make estate wines, but manage to make 95+ point wines from the very first vintage, without any track record? I find this whole thing confounding. It's confounding !

PS: this darned "captch" thing always tells me I've entered the wrong characters which is total BS.

slaked wrote:
06.30.08 at 9:43 AM

Alder,
I read this post after reading your most recent post on "terroir," and while I don't want to conflate the two, I'd have to say that the best wines on the graph are generally the first and second growths. Is that not true? And I guess my question to you (and the group) is, if we accept at least for the purposes of argument that the major wine critics generally prefer 1st growths to seconds, seconds to thirds, etc., then what is it that makes the first growths better? Is it their parcel of land per se? The use of 100% new oak? Selection at the sorting table? A combination of all 3? To me, I can't understand that the same vineyards have been making the best wines in the world for 150+ years if it's not in the soil. And if the soil is what really matters, then why is it that many, if not most, of my favorite New World producers don't make estate wines, or do make estate wines, but manage to make 95+ point wines from the very first vintage, without any track record? I find this whole thing confounding. It's confounding !

PS: this darned "captch" thing always tells me I've entered the wrong characters which is total BS.

tom farella wrote:
06.30.08 at 5:57 PM

Hmm. Chicken or egg, chicken or egg?

I can say that there is more of a formula if you want the score crowd to be happy. I know winemakers who don't drink their own wine that is tailored for scores. They make great cocktails, which is more closely aligned to the wine judge experience. Everyone LOVES those assurances from the arbiters of wine quality and fear of failure often drives the wine buyer's experience. It's too bad that wine **style** never comes into the equation and, therefore, wines are judged on a monolithic scale. The agreement between RP, WS and ST isn't so surprising.

Anyone read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" lately?

Alder wrote:
06.30.08 at 6:16 PM

Slaked,

Short answer to your question is that most (but not all) first growths are better quality wines than the second growths, which are better than the thirds. Now this report claims that the classification itself has some issues because the critics are consistently saying that, for instance, the Fifth Growth, Pontet-Canet is better than many second and third growths.

A score is not a validation of terroir, its a validation of a very good wine. There's a whole rats nest about whether those two are the same thing or not, and it's impossible to parse because everyone has a different definition of terroir. But Champagne is often cited as a wine that can be amazingly high quality, but not show any specific terroir.

So what really matters to the quality of the wine? Everything. Just because someone doesn't make an estate wine, doesn't mean they aren't getting kick ass grapes from a fabulous plot of land. Just because you don't OWN the terroir, doesn't mean your wine ain't got it! Great terroir is easily ruined by lousy winemaking, so the winemaking (in my opinion) matters a whole lot too.

What do the first growths have that a lot of others don't? Well some might argue the soil, but I know for a fact that one of the things they have is way more money than the second growths, which means they can buy the best help (winemakers, viticulturalists, etc. etc.) in the world, not to mention the best equipment (barrels, etc.) to make their wine with. That definitely helps.

I don't know if I've helped your confoundedness or not, but that's something to chew on.

Alder wrote:
06.30.08 at 6:22 PM

So a lot of you are nochalantly expressing no surprise that Parker, the Spectator, and Stephen Tanzer all seem to "have the same palate."

So let me ask all you people something. What WOULD it take to surprise you?

Who else would we have to throw into the mix on this question for your eyebrows to be raised? None of you seem to be addressing my claim that Robinson, et. al. seem to be singing the same song when it comes to Bordeaux.

Tell me what major critics agreeing with Parker, the Spectator and Tanzer on Bordeaux WOULD make your jaw drop?

Pantagruel wrote:
06.30.08 at 6:29 PM

Anyone out there bother registering at the Cornell website to view the source report? If so, can you tell us more about the critics' databases used? Particularly, I'm wondering from how far back the point scores were pulled.

Alder writes "In short: these three sources are in near complete agreement on which wines are the best, and they have been for three decades."

Yet the intro page linked says "An analysis of the ratings of vintages from 1970 to 2005 from three popular rating sources—Robert Parker, Stephen Tanzer, and Wine Spectator—provides a lens into the status of that 1855 Classification, as well as allows a comparison of those three raters."

This seems a reference to three decades of wine, not three decades of wine critiquing.
Were the ratings issued over three decades, or were they issued within the last year, or what?

Pantagruel wrote:
06.30.08 at 6:46 PM

"Who else would we have to throw into the mix on this question for your eyebrows to be raised? None of you seem to be addressing my claim that Robinson, et. al. seem to be singing the same song when it comes to Bordeaux.

Tell me what major critics agreeing with Parker, the Spectator and Tanzer on Bordeaux WOULD make your jaw drop?"

Your claim is just that: a claim, and nothing more.
Here's what would make my jaw drop. Get together all the critics you list by name in this piece. They don't all need to be in the same place at the same time. Sit em down over the course of a week or so, and ask them to assign point scores to a series of wines tasted double-blind. The wines should be a mix of those often tasted and assessed by the group (cru classe Bordeaux, etc), and lesser wines. The wines should be presented and tasted in a manner consistent with the precepts of sensory testing, including: serving the wines in a randomized pattern; serving them all in the same type of glass and at the same temperature; labeling each glass with a randomly chosen 3-digit number only; ensuring that many of the wines are served several times over the course of a day, and over the course of the week; etc.
Collect, collate, and compile all the scores and use standard statistical analyses to reveal trends about things like consistency, agreement, etc.
Do that, and my jaw will drop.
Do that, and show irrefutably that Broadbent and Parker have very similar palate preferences and I'll eat my shorts.

Jeff Butler wrote:
06.30.08 at 9:04 PM

"As for which wines are "better," well when every major wine critic in the world says that the 2005 Chateaux Margaux is exceptional, yes, that DOES mean that this wine is better than others. That DOESN'T mean, however, that you have to like it, or that you have to share the same opinion."

With all respect, Alder: Actually, this DOES NOT "mean that this wine is better than others"; it simply means that "every major wine critic in the world says that the 2005 Chateaux Margaux is exceptional." If, for example, I don't like it, then it is clearly NOT "better than others." Apologies on the pedantry here, but the overarching point is important to keep in mind: simply put, that there is no objective measure of quality.

Regards,

Jeff

Alder wrote:
06.30.08 at 9:23 PM

Jeff,

Of course you may grant no authority to critics based on the interpretation that everything is completely subjective. I think I probably share your basic philosophical outlook on reality, however, I take a pretty practical approach to dealing with the world. Just because there is no objective measure of quality doesn't mean that there isn't a heck of a lot of agreement on the subjective measures that exist.

When every major music critic in the history of the world says Mozart is better than some hack composer, I grant them that authority. While in theory everything may indeed really be relative, trying to negotiate the world with a strict insistence that such is the case will make your life pretty hard and mean that you spend a lot of time arguing.

Alder wrote:
06.30.08 at 11:17 PM

Pantagruel,

So I guess just analysis of the empirical score data out there in the world isn't good enough, eh? You realize that none of those critics taste wines truly blind except in limited entertainment circumstances, so what you're talking about is a total fantasy.

But get me a research grant and I'll give it a shot. Until then I and the rest of the world will have to settle for doing regression analysis on the data that is readily available. Now if only I knew where I put that calculator from high school.

Did you actually look at the Bordoverview site?

Pantagruel wrote:
07.01.08 at 12:54 AM

"You realize that none of those critics taste wines truly blind except in limited entertainment circumstances, so what you're talking about is a total fantasy."

You may think I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

Just joshin' with you, Alder.
But, yes, the fact that none of these folks are tasting blind more or less invalidates ANY discussion of consistency, agreement, etc.
Beyond the opportunity for introducing a fudge factor, there is definitely such a thing as an "house palate" in wine-making. People who taste together see the group preferences begin to converge around a middle. I imagine that the larger wine critic community, especially the American one, could experience the same phenomenon. Which is why I was wondering whether the Cornell U numbers really tracked the critics results back to the beginning. I'd expect less agreement in the early days of point-scoring, and greater agreement now.

Did I check out the Bordoverview site?
No.
I don't really need to consult with some site to learn the effects of the critics' pronouncements, or whether or not professionals are in tight agreement as to what constitutes quality. I see that every day of my life.

07.01.08 at 10:36 AM

Alder,

I have said for some time that there seems to be a certain degree of agreement among wine critics. I find that the same wines are always getting the same sort of relative scores from these tasters.
In the case of Tanzer and Parker they publish there own publications but in the case of the Spectator, James Suckling is a hired gun. My question is this; Is there pressure at the level of the publisher to hire tasters that fit a certain profile?
The whole profession of 'wine critic' would lose validity if all of the tasters had no agreement. If Parker had a very different palet than Tanzer who was different from Suckiling who was different from who ever else then people would likely draw the conclusion that wine quality is subjective.
IF consumers were to have that realization, that these pallets are no more 'right' than thier own, then who would buy the magazines? A certain degree of agreement is needed to validate the whole notion of wines being rated.
There is much speculation as to weather consumers agree with Parker or just begin liking what Parker likes, because he is an expert. The bottom line is that 'bigger is better' is a safe direction to go. Wines that are 'less obvious' require time and experience to understand. Fat ass fruit bombs are simple they are what they are.
Being a Pinot producer I have to wait for consumers to go through thier 'Big Wine' phase before I can really reach out to them, they simply don't get the point of a wine that is; "light", "thin", "delicate" etc. However once they do move away from 'big wines' they rarely hold then in the same regard they once did.
My point is this; are Parker and the others appealing more to experienced consumers or to consumers new to the wine experience? In my opinion the nature of thier palets are likely to rate, highly, wines that make more sense to 'newbies' than to experienced tasters.

07.01.08 at 7:11 PM

I would like to make several disparate points (no pun intended) here.

1. The above-charted critics are talented, experienced tasters and when they taste a Lynch-Bages blind, it's quite likely they know it's a Lynch-Bages. However dispassionate the tasters try to be, this knowledge might just influence their scores.

2. In the above chart, Wine Spectator is actually not Wine Spectator. It is James Suckling, who has a marked preference for big, dark, inky reds, be they Brunello or Bordeaux.

3. Oz Clarke and Michael Broadbent recently decried homogenization in Bordeaux, with the former saying he was "enormously worried" by the trend and the latter saying, "they're all being made in the same style now – you can't tell the difference between a St-Estèphe, St-Julien or Margaux. They're making Pomerol wines in the Mdoc." Neither are represented at Bordoverview.com See http://www.decanter.com/news/164745.html

4. Speaking of Bordoverview.com, I see a great deal of difference between Jancis Robinson's points and those of Suckling and Parker. Quite often she'll rate these 2007 wines at 15.5 or 16, which calculates to 77.5 to 80 on the 100 point scale -- whereas Suckling and Parker rate the wines a full 10 points higher! Big difference!

5. We all have our prejudices and idiosyncrasies. Parker clearly prefers the big big wines from most regions, but that formula becomes discombobulated when he hits Chateauneuf du Pape. Here, he likes quite a lot more of the traditionally made (though not necessarily rustic) wines.

6. Finally, it's important to acknowledge the undertow of conformity. It's in our nature to accept conventional wisdom, and if enough people say that Wine X is great, even if we harbor doubts, we then harbor doubts about the doubt. In other words, homogenization of taste is often subconscious rather than conscious, and for every winemaker who explicitly wants to appeal to some critic or market trend, there may be one or two or three others who want to ensure that their wine is both good and right, and are influenced silently by the contemporary notions of what is good and what is right. I can never know a person's true and full intent, but I can at least taste his wine.

Alder wrote:
07.02.08 at 8:49 AM

Wicker Parker,

Re #1 - All these critics have given low scores to top chateaux when the wines aren't good. That speaks to some level of objectivity.

Re #3 - Many of the people who complain about homogenization will also admit that a) the wines of Bordeaux are better than they have ever been and b) a lot of the difference between wines in the past had to do with some being crap while others were good. I'd love to be able to compare Oz' and Broadbent's scores to others.

Which brings me to #4.

It doesn't matter if Jancis' scores are different than Suckling's or Parker's it just matters how they sit RELATIVE to all the others. In the study mentioned above, Tanzer's scores are definitely different than Parkers, but the two rate the same top wines highly, and the lesser wines lower, in ways that are consistent within each of their scales and relative to each other.

So now you've forced me to be late for work (;-) so I can run the following comparisons:

Of Parkers top 10 wines, which range in score from 96 to 98 points:

Jancis Robinson scores only two of them below 90 points, and 8 of them 94 points and higher (converting using the recently published scale in World of Fine Wine).

Decanter scores four of them around 90 points (or a bit lower) and the rest of them around 96 points or higher (again converting using the same published scale)

Wine Spectator scores all but one 95-100 points.

Michael Bettane and Thierry Desseauve score only one below 90 points and the rest 93/94 points and higher.

Now lets look the other way:

Jancis Robinson's top 10 wines?

Parker scores all but two higher than 95 points (and the two he scores lowest are, surprise, the two that Jancis also scores lowest)

Spectator scores more than half 95-100 and all of them higher than 93 points, except one, which again is Jancis' lowest scoring wine.

Decanter gives all but three of them 96 point ratings or higher

And Bettane and Desseauve rate all the wines except two within a half point of Jancis' ratings (all above 93/94 points) and their two lowest wines are, surprise, Jancis' lowest scoring wines.

I didn't have time to compare more than ten, but this is a significant level of agreement for people who supposedly have very different tastes in wine.

Bernie Bearnaise wrote:
07.02.08 at 9:06 AM

Alder,
Contrary to trend I am in alignment with your supposition that the monolithic Parker Palate is a myth. Why he is bashed and blamed for everthing in the vinyard except the weather is a mystery to me. The recent Decanter issue confirmed the barrel tasting reviews of Parker vs. the en primeur pricing and made an average value of Parker points to Pounds on scores above 90 points. While Parker is ubiquitous he is still human and his reputation is based on Bordeaux. Decanter's article also said that Parker actually reinforced the existing hierarchy. There is historic 1855 Left Bank Bordeaux and there is in my opinion post Peynaud Bordeaux. 1982 to present represents a lot of old chateaux passing to new hands and new methods. Michel Rolland probably could be blamed for some of the homogeneous characteristics moreso than Robert Parker. For instance new oak barriques are very expensive and only the top growths can afford to use them 100%. The graph is almost identical and if you were to handicap for the different critics weighted values then they're just about congruent. I'd say that puts the final wooden stake in the heart of Parkerization.

For me nirvana is St. Julien on the left and Chateau Ausone on the right. I envy Parker in that he has access to these pricey nectars as his profession.

Pantagruel wrote:
07.02.08 at 3:42 PM

Bernie:

"Contrary to trend I am in alignment with your supposition that the monolithic Parker Palate is a myth."

I agree as well.
This is a myth in several ways.
Firstly, though he's got strong preferences he's hardly a one trick pony. So, to say that he only likes one style of wine is wrong.
Secondly, I don't really know of anyone who suggests his palate is monolithic, so it's a myth in that sense as well. Or a strawman, if you'd like.

"he is bashed and blamed for everthing in the vinyard except the weather is a mystery to me."
It's a mystery to everyone, because nobody is blaming him for everything. He's targeted because he is the most influential wine critic on the stage today. So he's a stand-in for a group of people who move markets because his word has more power than most to do so.

Yes, Parkerization is alive and well.
But it's not quite the rampaging beast that some suggest. It is one trend amongst many.
Should Parker get the blame for it? As you say, the people on the ground, in the cellars and vineyards, should probably take the lion's share, since they decide whether or not to bow to such influences.
But surely a self-styled advocate should accept some responsibility for the adoption by others of principles and practices he so vigorously supports.

Rich wrote:
07.07.08 at 9:10 AM

Just a notion, but a professional wine critic who is doing their job tells you which wine is superior to others, not which wine they "like better" than others. Naturally, their personal preferences may influence their feelings, but they should be able to tell you which wines are superior and why they are so. That, perhaps, explains the consistency among the professionals you have cited.

Arthur wrote:
07.07.08 at 1:36 PM

Rich:

Unfortunately, the major critics DO rate based on personal preference and enjoyment. The fact that they taste in large flights only compounds the problem. It has been mentioned that (blind or not) this way of tasting is prone to contrast error and results in a drift or tendency towards a particular style (which usually is most discrete) to be rated higher than others.

Alder wrote:
07.07.08 at 8:10 PM

Arthur, if critics did not take personal preference and enjoyment into account (in addition to their significant objective evaluations of wines which are a large part of any reputable critics assessment of a wine) we wouldn't need multiple wine critics, we'd only need one, and that one could be a machine.

No critic alive has ever claimed to be the authoritative arbiter of what is and is not a fantastic wine. Just as no movie critic, opera critic, or food critic can claim a monopoly on good taste.

Arthur wrote:
07.07.08 at 8:16 PM

Alder,

Critics rating and reviewing based on preference is one of the problems with wine these days.

I think you are going to an unnecessary extreme with the machine reference. A common point of reference would not not obviate the need for multiple critics because there is no way you, Robinson or Parker or anyone can cover all the wines of the world.

Plus, with a reliable reference touch point, consumers would not need to "follow" any reviewer and they would not have to "calibrate" their palate to anyone's preferences. But then we would not be able to sell subscriptions, ad space, etc.

Alder wrote:
07.07.08 at 8:34 PM

Arthur,

We come to the impasse where you believe that wine can be evaluated purely on objective criteria, a stance I completely disagree with. And while you might think the machine analogy is extreme, it is certainly the logical extension of what you're talking about. You've even gone so far as to admit that the only purpose for multiple wine critics in your view is because to be able to taste all the wines of the world isn't humanly possible.

But if wine can be evaluated without any of the subjective preferences and enjoyment of people, then that means we could develop sensors and computer programs to do it faster and more reliably.

Wine will never possess a common point of reference any more than any of the arts have. Pretty much everyone (whose opinions matter) agrees that Picasso kicks butt, so does Mozart, so does Martha Graham, and so does Lafite Rothschild, but none of that consensus is based on the objective reference point criteria you seek.

Arthur wrote:
07.08.08 at 10:03 AM

Alder, I think you pushing the envelope with what I intended when I said that multiple critics are a necessity because one could not taste all the world's wines. But I wonder if there is something in particular that bothers you about the ideas of 1)computerized machines assessing wine (because it's soulless, artless?) and 2) the idea that we are not all that unique as individuals?

Just because people cannot *verbalize* why something is more beautiful or of greater appeal does not mean that there is no objective and reproducible reason for it.

Enter the Fibonacci sequence, music theory and the inherent tendency of our brains to respond in more positive manners to different/specific shapes, sounds, sequences of sounds and proportions, colors, aromas and flavors. Even in cinematography, there are rules that indicate which shots etc will have more pleasing or interesting results. Yes rules are *occasionally* broken, but the persistence of certain works tends to hinge on them following those rules.

(These phenomena are so universal that the line: "You're unique, just like everyone else" becomes less sarcastic and more poignant the more of them one discovers).

A final note: I do not think that this inherent commonality of response to anything esthetic validates the Heideggerian view you follow. Rather, it buttresses the connection between the invariable properties of a particular wine and human physiology, and supports the notion that there is a basis for objective and reproducible assessment.

Alder wrote:
07.08.08 at 11:14 AM

Arthur,

I don't think I have a problem, per se, with the notion that a computer could review wines, I just happen to believe that it's truly impossible for a computer to do so BECAUSE part of a wine review SHOULD be about the enjoyment the wine provides, and that enjoyment is a process which while produced by the measurable qualities of the wine, is wholly separate from them.

Arthur wrote:
07.08.08 at 12:04 PM

Alder,

As you have said, *enjoyment* is a personal experience. Why should what you enjoy dictate what anyone else enjoys?

If there is only a factual description of the wine (like a description of a dish on the menu) then the customer can decide which dish/wine they want without a critic telling them how much they enjoyed it.

Whether that description is generated by human assessor or a mechanical one, becomes irrelevant. What is key, then, is that there is no preference being dictated.

Alder wrote:
07.08.08 at 12:22 PM

Which critic of any kind in the world dictates what others will enjoy? How do you equate factoring enjoyment into the review of a product or an experience with dictating what others will enjoy?

I don't want my wine reviews to be purely factual any more than I want my movie reviews to be mere plot summaries and shot by shot descriptions, my restaurant reviews to be mere lists of the dishes on the menu and the ingredients of each entree, or my music reviews to only list the beats per minute, key signatures and rhythmic patters of the song.

I couldn't possibly form an opinion of whether I would enjoy any of those things from the purely objective criteria one might list about them. Only after the critic has told me that the sum total of those elements is a "delightful" or "heart warming" or "stirring" or "kick ass" experience, can I possibly figure out whether I'm interested.

Why? Because if I had $5 for every time I read a plot summary of a movie, or the ingredients of a dish on the menu and then was horribly disappointed by what I got as an experience, I would be a rich, rich man.

Leif erik Sundstrom wrote:
07.08.08 at 2:12 PM

Alright, enough! Alder you go to your room, and Arthur you to yours. Time out! I won't stand this kind of bickering anymore. It's coming to arguments over details that are too trivial to separate the family. Please, calm...

Arthur wrote:
07.08.08 at 2:32 PM

Alder:

"How do you equate factoring enjoyment into the review of a product or an experience with dictating what others will enjoy?"

In so far as novices turn to you, me, Robinson, Parker, laube or Suckling, any endorsement of a wine dconstitutes an indication of that person's opinion of what is quality to those who do not yet know much about wine. That is how a critics relation of personal enjoyment dictates preferences

Alder wrote:
07.08.08 at 6:23 PM

Arthur,

I think you're inappropriately conflating the tendency or phenomenon of people not thinking for themselves and the role that critics play in any aesthetic discourse. It doesn't seem rational to me to blame the subjective components of critical opinion for some of the ways that novice consumers choose to use those opinions. Plenty of non-novice consumers find those opinions extremely useful as tools in broadening their awareness of wine.


Arthur wrote:
07.09.08 at 12:27 AM

Alder,

That's just the thing. The CalTech fMRI study you wrote about earlier this year in fact suggests that novices may be susceptible to the suggestions of critics. I think the study points to a very real phenomenon, so I don't think I am over estimating the influence of critics.

Alder wrote:
07.09.08 at 12:42 AM

Of course people are susceptible to suggestion. But that's no reason to suggest that if somehow critics could just purge the subjective aspects of their criticism that everything would be much better, and somehow consumers would make more personally relevant and informed decisions.

Arthur wrote:
07.09.08 at 12:57 AM

Considering all the bemoaning about homogenization or Parkerization (or what have you) I think it may offer a better alternative for many. It may work. It certainly is not being tried right now.

Chris Robinson wrote:
07.14.08 at 2:17 AM

Alder, surely the point about Parkers palate preference applies more at the edge, mainly very high alcohol wines, whereas most of the wines you list would only average around 13.5% alcohol over multiple vintages and would be generally consistent in style. It is at the edge, with garagiste style wines and the new style Bordeaux wines like "Pavie Moderne" and a number of St Emilion's, where the alcohol levels exceed 14.5% that the issue of monolithic palate comes in. Parker is absolutely brilliant on fine wines, it is on these blockbusters that his opinion differs from European-palated wine writers. Witness the unbelievably disproportionate insults that were thrown at Jancis Robinson over Pavie ratings, just because she pointedly disagreed with Parker, describing the wine as not being wine-like, more like Ribena, a blackberry Vitamin C cordial in the UK. It seems recent tastings of garagiste wines (Decanter) confirms these are not vin de garde despite Parker's perceptions of many of these as long keepers at original tastings. It is with these wine styels that we see huge palate differences between European and US writers. I once served some top Granges to a bunch of Bordelais and Rhone wine makers and they just couldn't recognize these as wines. This palate difference is therefore pretty "real". Even sommeliers in the US are now noticing Parker high score/high alcohol wines are losing appeal as wines on restaurants lists. Is it the "wines that go better with food" issue or something else? As someone who has a 16% alcohol Primitivo off our vineyards I notice people love it in the beginning of tastings, but the bottles at the end of tatsings, that still have un-consumed content, are usually these wines. Parker may well be out of touch with a drinking audience that no longer adores big, high alcohol wines, who knows? But let no one query his Bordeaux palate, it is second to none, having bought en primeur from his notes over many, many years, but never blockbuster St Emilion's. Why - easy I have a European palate bias!!

Alder wrote:
07.20.08 at 7:03 PM

Chris,

It's taken me some time to get a chance to reply to your thoughtful commment, but I definitely wanted to respond.

I guess the real question is: what defines the core, and what defines the edge? More specifically, what percentage of the top wines of the world would the critics agree on, and what percentage are on "the edges?" If Parker and the rest of the critical establishment pretty much agree on most of what are the "best wines in the world" then it's hard to justify the claim of his palate being both monolithic and only oriented to the big wines (not that you're making that claim yourself).

If the "palate difference" only exists when it comes to a small percentage of wines, then it seems we ought to simply acknowledge it for what it is, an enjoyment of a certain style of wine not in exclusion of all others (as is claimed) but simply in addition to all the other styles and types he (or any other critic) enjoys.

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