Wine Spectator Cabernet Issue
Is it me or did anyone else notice what a joke this issue has become? I'll cite just one example I found:
Smoking Loon Cabernet - 85
Chimney Rock Elevage - 88
Justin Isosceles Reserve - 83
There seems to be a distinct disconnect I can't quite understand.............
Being a former Sommelier and currently a restaurant owner I have to agree that WS is one of the most inaccurate rating systems I have ever seen, but then again look at everyone following the "Parker 100 Palate" to overly extracted alcoholic Paso Robles Syrah, Australian Shiraz and Napa Valley Cabernets. Although I believe that these are all great examples of the top wines in the world, it doesn't every example of 200 case production or less deserves over 95 points. In reality every publication is skewed one way or the other.
Reality is we have made these publications as powerful as they are because we all keep buying them and believing them. I am as much to blame as the next guy!
I haven't seen the issue, but what VINTAGE YEAR is this from ???
Also, how are the scores determined? Is there a blind tasting panel or just a single tasters opinion ?
It's entirely conceivable that any great cabernet could score an 85 in an off year and much lower in a disastrous year....
Great cabernet is one of the most vintage-specific wines out there, IMO
re: Chicago Mike
I have no idea what year, per se, but let's say 2004 is probably where it is centered. Maybe lots of 2005? Doesn't really matter. WS scores on CA are basically the exclusive property of James Laube. They are not done by committee. WS claims that all wines for review are always tasted blind.
That's what my recollection was... that they are tasted blind... and for all the "big issues" i thought a panel is usually involved, perhaps it's only Laube here, which seems irresponsible for such an important publication to reflect only one person's opinion in it's tastings... lastly, IMO for a reasonable tasting at least several bottles of each wine should be available to the panel as you can always have a bad bottle... perhaps someone can dig out the details of this particular report, exactly how they did their tastings and reached their scores
FWIW, just checking the editors of this issue (Nov 15 07), there are no less than 6 articles that comprise this issue on cabernet.....I find cabernet articles by Laube, but also by Worobiec and Sogg, and perhaps there are others.... Worobiec and Sogg make references to "we found these values...", etc... sort of intimating that more than one person's palate was involved perhaps ?
They also talk about "recent tastings", indicating that these ratings are probably a compilation of various tastings they've done for some time, rather than one massive "sit down and taste" event... and there is great likelihood that over the course of "recent tastings", there was more than one taster.
Just throwing this out as a possibility, I'm travelling and don't have the issues right in front of me...
re: Chicago Mike
Yeah... I'm not looking at the magazine right now, but in the past it has always been just the prime reviewer... just as Suckling is the only person who gives official Bordeaux reviews. At the end of each review you should see a "JL". Irrespective of the articles, I'm pretty certain that "JL" will appear at the end of every note -- or be assumed to be true, at any rate.
The reasons for the Wine Spectator's demise is: a) James Laube has "lost his touch"; b) the Wine Spectator is more concerned with the ad revenue from that four-color Rolex ad and other lifestyle issues than they are serious about wine; c) the Wine Spectator was never very serious about wine to begin with since Shanken purchased the publication and changed it from a bi-weekly newsaper to a slick, glossy magazine; d) your palate has evolved/changed since you began readiing the publication; e) all of the above.
I tend to agree with you (assuming your conclusion is "all of the above") but I do think it is especially worth noting, at least to me, that in the past couple of years Laube has gone off the tracks in a way that other reviewers there haven't. That said, WS is a "lifestyle" magazine, for sure and I know few serious wine drinkers who take the reviews in WS as seriously as they take Steven Tanzer or Gambero Rosso or Decanter, or a few other other dedicated wine magazines...
I belive that is 3 examples....
Look, accoriding to many many people, Laube has lost his touch. What do you want me or anyone to say? This is a commonly agreed upon point on the WineSpectator forums, themselves. Who knows why this has happened? But it has. I strongly suspect his job at WS will be re-assigned in the next few years, but in the meantime, Tanzer, Parker, and most importantly, private reviewers on wine forums all can offer advice on CA Cabs...