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Wines with biggest rating differences!

Years ago, I bought the 1988 Mouton Rothchild based on Wine Spectator's perfect 100 pts rating. After investing in the wine, a few months down the road, I was stunned to see Robert Parker gave it a meager 88 pts! A whopping 12 pts difference from two supposedly 'authoritative bodies'!

A few days ago, I once again encountered a wine with such huge rating discrepancy. The wine is the St. Urbans-Hof Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Kabinett from the great 2009 vintage. My brother-in-law loaded up on this wine based on a 92 pts rating and strong recommendation from the LCBO product consultant. ( who claimed it was better than the glorious rich and aromatic 2008 which we had ). Two days later, the wine critic of our major newspaper - Toronto Star, Gordon Stimmel wrote ' this is one wine that I will not touch at any price! Weird smell of 'cardboard', the wine is only worth 84 pts!!' Wow! Another rating difference the gap of the Grand Canyon! Whats going on?! Someone's on drug before tasting?!

I'm curious to hear from fellow vino-chowhounders, what other wines they have encountered that has such huge rating differences?!!

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  1. Sounds like Mr. Stimmel had a corked bottle. Probably unfair to give it an 84. The community notes on cellartracker are generally favorable, including from a couple of tasters whose opinion I trust. I wouldn't worry about the purchase.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sleepercar

      Fellow chowhounder skylineR33 tried a bottle recently and experienced the same 'weird sensory sensation'! Coincidence or underlying problem with this wine??!!

    2. At dinner last night a friend of mine who is a wine distributor told me of a Forman Cab Sauv many years back the the Spectator gave it a 92 and Parker a 76. He had his wine stores advertise it with both reviews showing. They sold out almost immediately as people had to compare for themselves.

      1. This very same topic with the very same wine has come up earlier on this board:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/304891

        Parker likes concentrated, inky wines, usually in the New World "fruit bomb" style. So, it's not a surprise that he didn't like the Mouton-Rothschild, which is made in lighter style. In regards to the second wine, it sounds like the Riesling was corked. The LCBO buyer got a clean bottle; the Toronto Star critic got a corked bottle. But it is very surprising the critic couldn't pick out a corked bottle and didn't ask for a new bottle to review (protocol in this situation).

        So, really no mystery in either case, except for the doofus wine critic.

        12 Replies
        1. re: maria lorraine

          Thanks ML, you are always worth the price of admission!

          1. re: maria lorraine

            Out of curiosity, can a wine be 'corked' if the bottle is 'screw capped'?!

                1. re: zin1953

                  OK................I do know that TCA can get into wine in barrels and from other sources around the winery operation: From Wikipedia - "when naturally-occurring airborne fungi are presented with chlorophenol compounds"........ which occur in many pesticides and wood prerservatives", for openers. So when Amcor (the $12Billion owner of the Stelvin screwcap) says (on their website) "The aluminum screw cap guarantees an absence of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA)".... are they just not telling the truth or is there some rationalization for that statement?

                  1. re: Midlife

                    What is the full sentence, and is it from Amcor's website, or from wikipedia?

                    I would say that Stelvins guarantee the wine will not be tainted from a TCA-contaminated cork. But if, for example, the wooden beams in the winery's building are contaminated with TCA, and that gets airborne and into the wine, a Stelvin "ain't gonna do diddly" about that! ;^)

                    1. re: zin1953

                      The full quote from this section of the Amcor website FAQ on their Stelvin closure is:

                      "The aluminum screw cap guarantees an absence of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA), the chief cause of cork taint, resulting in a significant reduction in wine spoilage. It conserves the aromas, flavor and freshness of the wine just as the wine maker intended."

                      I see the point you're getting at but it does say that Stelvin GUARANTEES the absence of TCA, not that it guarantees the absence of TCA only from corks. Sloppy writing?

                      Note: The Wikipedia quote was only about other sources of TCA.I thought I'd been clear on that. I also found similar info about the other sources (such as wood) on the site of The Wine Institute.

                      1. re: Midlife

                        Obviously I have no idea what the writer of that statement was thinking at the time, but I'd venture to guess it's sloppy writing based on the single-minded focus of replacing corks with Stelvins, as opposed to any deliberately false and misleading statement on their part. That is, using a Stelvin will guarantee a 100% absence of TCA . . . from cork (in other words, our Stelvins won't contaminate the wine like your corks do), but it won't protect the wine from taint PRIOR to bottling.

                        1. re: Midlife

                          <I see the point you're getting at but it does say that Stelvin GUARANTEES the absence of TCA, not that it guarantees the absence of TCA only from corks. Sloppy writing?>

                          Could end up being expensive sloppy writing for them.

                2. re: maria lorraine

                  Do we need to file this one under "You'd think experienced tasters would be able to tell if a wine was corked".................. certainly if enough to be 'cardboard'? So........................... what's this all about?

                  1. re: Midlife

                    That is the only conundrum here -- why the wine critic did not pick out the TCA.

                    Related to cork taint vs. cellar taint, as I've previously written: TCA is caused by an interaction of airborne fungi with chlorine compounds. It is formed in the air of the winery, thus can infect the wine in the fermentation tank, or through the wood pores of a barrel, or possibly (rarely) through the cork. TBA is formed in the same way (airborne fungi) interacting with wood preservatives that are used on the wood surfaces of winery. It smells very similar to TCA and most people cannot tell the difference. This is how TCA or TBA can infect a wine that is not bottled with a cork.

                    However, corks can be purchased already infected with TCA -- this is the way a TCA infection occurs from the cork itself.

                    So, what is the ratio of cellar taint to cork taint? When a winery buys corks from reputable cork dealers, I'd wager the greater percentage of tainted wines comes from cellar taint. BTW, I have attended numerous professional seminars on TCA, TBA, TeCA and the entire family of haloanisoles, so I consider myself fairly informed, but not infallible.

                    And yes, that is sloppy writing (i.e., overstatement to make a sale) on the Amcor website to infer that using Stelvins would eliminate TCA. They should know better.

                3. Charles,

                  I probably do not measure my wines on someone else's point system, so will miss many of these.

                  Going back some years, I do recall some Wine Enthusiast ratings in the 90's, where either Parker, or WS gave that wine something in the low '80s. Cannot recall now, which side I went with?

                  Hunt

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    "I probably do not measure my wines on someone else's point system, so will miss many of these".

                    This, exactly. I don't bother AT ALL with ratings. Taste is subjective. Even if you find someone's palate that you tend to agree with, it's never a 100% match.

                    Actually, rephrase. I do use ratings- I almost always stay away from a high Parker score.

                  2. In 2007 I drank the 1998 Domaine Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Wine Spectator gave it a 72. The wine was fine. nothing great. Nothing to merit that low of a score. Parker gave it an 89, by the way, which was probably a little too generous.
                    In 2008, I had a 1986 Château d'Arche Sauternes that critic Robert Broadbent gave one star on a five-star scale. In fact, he had tasted it recently as 1995. It would be an exaggeration to say this wine was rocking, but I took it to a gathering of CellarTracker! users and everyone who tried it liked it. this was a wine that was quite nice. I gave it an 89. Parker rated it 88, by the way.
                    Broadbent is supposed to be the ultimate Sauternes critic, by the way.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: SteveTimko

                      >>> . . . Robert Broadbent . . . <<<
                      Uh, do you mean MICHAEL Broadbent?

                      1. re: zin1953

                        Robert Broadbent was a photographer I knew growing up. I don't think anyone would trust his wine judgment.

                    2. Charles, I would be happy to point out such specific examples IF there an occasion arose where upon I relied on ratings to purchase my wine. I do not, and I would be hard-pressed to tell you what the heck ____________________ rated that bottle of ______________. I don't care now, nor did I* even when I was in the wine trade! I make my purchases based upon my own judgement, my own tasting of the wine, and (in some cases) the opinions of specific individuals whose palate i know and trust. In some cases, that means friends of mine; in other cases, it might mean a winemaker or a retailer that I know . . .

                      Now, about that asterisk up above . . .

                      When I was in the retail wine trade, I knew that if Parker, et. al. gave a wine an impressive sounding number of points, I could probably sell a ton of it . . . but I did not AUTOMATICALLY buy it for my store simply because of a high score in _______________. I had a criteria for purchasing wine for my stores, and it was (almost) always based upon my own personal tasting of the wine in question.

                      Now, let's be realistic -- I didn't have to, for example, taste the new vintage of Dom Pérignon to know that I could sell Dom, so some wines were, in a sense, on auto-pilot . . . or "auto-buy," I guess, is a better way to put it. But far more often than not, the wines were already IN STOCK by the time the scores from Wine Spectator or the Wine Advocate were published. Aside from barrel samples, which I find to be relatively useless anyway, if one waits for Parker, et. al. to publish their scores, the wine is already sold out, and has been for months!

                      As for the time I spent importing wines on the grey market, Parker, et. al. were a GOLD MINE for me! I'd offer a parcel of wines for sale, publish the Parker scores, and the wines would be sold out in hours -- and that was weeks, or even months, before the ship carrying the wines docked in port!

                      All I can tell you is that, when it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah from California, I find myself avoiding Parker's highest rated wines like the plague! I much prefer wines he rates in the, say 88-90 range than wines he rates 94-100. The same is true for his palate v. mine when it comes to Australian reds, and red wines from the Rhône (albeit northern more so than southern).

                      Cheers,
                      Jason

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: zin1953

                        Jason, it took me a while (primarily prior to your contributions on this site) to come to grips with the "Rating Game". Figured out fairly early that salesmen's hype/promo along with Wine Speculator etal were utter BS, then started applying that to my local sources with interesting results.

                        One of our (local) big box places, Old Doc's (similar to Liquor Barn, etal, but much better than BevMo) were totally driven by the RP/WS/WA scores.As a result they thought their Sh*t didn't stink, needless to say myself and my rebel cronies have moved on without them.

                        The fall out from this is that "we" have developed incredible relationships with a few of our local independents (Stan at Grapetray, D'Arcy at Sam's Deli) that not only search out and stock our interests BUT give us great discounts as well.

                        Our pal Stan has started a tasting group just for our little socai group (6-12 people). We can choose the varietal, vertical or cross vinyards, whatever, he gives us wholesale price on the bottles and we give him feedback on what we will buy (and reco to our other pals)

                        Bottom line, I avoid Parker, Speculator, and the rest, and rely on knowledgeable, lovers of the craft such as yourself, to help steer my ship. This isn't an isolated situation, start talking to your local folks, you will be amazed.

                        1. re: zin1953

                          Jason, I totally agree with your write-up and reasoning. However, to layman and amateur like myself, who are not member of the 'trade' and might not have a chance to do barrel tasting or sample the wine before buying, we have no choice but to rely on the judgement and tastes of 'experts'! With prices of some first growth Bordeaux...etc rising to the stratosphere. If one is willing to dish out mega-bucks to purchase some, be it for own tasting or investment purposes. I think it is human nature to try to obtain the best?! However, if a similar scenario like the '88 Mouton happens again to say the 2009 or 2010 vintage, I will be mighty upset!!! Not only that! But, by the time one discovers the discrepency, its too late to buy some other ones to compensate for the wrong choices, since all the great ones would have been sold out by then!!
                          Bottom line - fingers crossed and hope for the best??!!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Charles, you seem to be missing my point -- almost completely! ;^) For example:

                            You write, "However, to layman and amateur like myself, who are not member of the 'trade' and might not have a chance to do barrel tasting . . . "

                            Whereas I wrote, "Aside from barrel samples, which I find to be relatively useless anyway . . . "

                            You write, "However, to layman and amateur like myself, who are not member of the 'trade' and might not have a chance to do barrel tasting or sample the wine before buying, we have no choice but to rely on the judgement and tastes of 'experts'!"

                            Whereas I wrote, " I make my purchases based upon my own judgement, my own tasting of the wine, and (in some cases) the opinions of specific individuals whose palate i know and trust. In some cases, that means friends of mine; in other cases, it might mean a winemaker or a retailer that I know . . ."

                            OK, let me make that last bit even more clear: in the above quotation, I was referring ONLY to wines I buy for MYSELF, for my own cellar, my own pleasure. It was not until I wrote "Now, about that asterisk up above . . . " that I was referring to what I did in the trade. In other words, I retired from the wine business in 2002 -- I rarely go to "trade tastings" anymore, but when I do, I rely on my own tastings of the wines offered there to order wines for myself. Otherwise, like ANY consumer, I rely on recommendations from "specific individuals whose palate i know and trust. In some cases, that means friends of mine; in other cases, it might mean a winemaker or a retailer that I know . . . "

                            OK, perhaps not everyone has friends who are professional winemakers, but then again, I'm not waiting for "John" to say "Hey, get my new Cabernet -- it's great!" OTOH, if a winemaking friend of mine in Sonoma tells me about a great bottle of French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian or other wine that they had (but didn't make), and they think I'd like it, I'll go look for it . . .

                            Charles, you are I differ greatly on two points. This does not mean one of us is right and the other wrong; there is no "right" or "wrong" involved. You and I just have two VERY different ways of doing things.

                            1) >>> If one is willing to dish out mega-bucks to purchase some, be it for own tasting or investment purposes. <<< I have NEVER purchased wine for "investment purposes" in over 40 years of buying wines. Every single bottle I ever purchased was bought for me to drink, or as a present for someone; never with an eye towards investment or profit.

                            2) >>> I think it is human nature to try to obtain the best. <<< I don't know what that means in the context of wine. Charles, the best wine on the planet is the one YOU like the most. Period. And whether I like the same one or not doesn't change that fact that -- to you -- THAT is the very best wine. You have YOUR taste buds in your mouth -- not mine, not Parker's, not anyone else. Just yours. And no one can tell your taste buds what tastes best. Only your taste buds can do that.

                            Clearly you are in a tax bracket where buying First Growth Futures is economically feasible. OK. That's fine. It's your money, and you can spend it however you choose (obviously). If buying 2010 First Growth Bordeaux is something you wish to spend your money on, hey -- go for it!

                            In all honesty, I could afford it, too. However, experience has told me that -- for MY palate; for MY enjoyment -- there is no way that those prices are even remotely close to being worth it to me. (Again, Charles, that's TO ME, and clearly this is an example where "YMMV" is the rule of the day.) I would much rather -- indeed, I would prefer to drink; I would derive more enjoyment from drinking a great bottle of wine from the Northern Rhône, from Burgundy, form the Douro or the Rioja, or even a red Bordeaux from a "lesser" estate -- and buy more of them -- than I would get from a 2010 Mouton or Lafite . . . even if I were around to drink it at its optimum maturity.

                            But as I've said before, I'm a dinosaur, and I remember when 1st Growth Bordeaux was $20 on the shelf (not futures). When 2nd Growths were $8-15, and Firsts were $20, I could see the logic to pricing. But when wines like Brasne-Cantenac, Cantemerle, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Malescot-St.-Exupery, and more are all UNDER $100, I have a very difficult time understanding why First Growths are $1,000-$2,000 a bottle . . .

                            Cheers,
                            Jason

                            1. re: zin1953

                              "But when wines like Brasne-Cantenac, Cantemerle, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Malescot-St.-Exupery, and more are all UNDER $100, I have a very difficult time understanding why First Growths are $1,000-$2,000 a bottle . . . "

                              The First Growths are priced that way so those who are lucky enough to profit off flipping them can drink Brane-Cantenac, Cantemerle, Grand-Puy-Lacoste & Malescot-St.-Exupery to their hearts' content...... ;-)

                              1. re: Eugene Park

                                And thus my qualifying as a dinosaur, as I have no idea who came up with this logic, nor why anyone would want to play into the hands of those who control that particular game.

                              2. re: zin1953

                                <But when wines like Brasne-Cantenac, Cantemerle, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Malescot-St.-Exupery, and more are all UNDER $100, I have a very difficult time understanding why First Growths are $1,000-$2,000 a bottle . . . >

                                Come on, Jason! you know it's largely the Chinese market. They are so enamored of the big names, they'll pay whatever they ask. And the owners of the First Growths are enjoying the $$$ as they play into their hands. It stinks, but it's reality.

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  Actually, it's not the Chinese market. That's just an excuse used by the Bordelais to drive up prices. Not even the Chinese are buying.

                                  From Bloomberg News:

                                  "Last year, Asian buyers snapped up a third of the Berry Bros. Bordeaux 2009 futures allocation. Only 5 percent of the merchant’s 2010 wines have gone to the region, Staples said. "

                                  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08...

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    I agree. Personally I think that speculators -- people buying as investment -- have driven up the prices much more substantially over the long run than the opening of new Asian markets. And now that the Bordelais have gotten used to the money rolling it, it's hard to stop . . . .

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      Who thinks they may have reached their saturation point?

                                      1. re: ChefJune

                                        Every time I've thought so in the past, I've been proven wrong, so I've stopped guessing . . . I just buy wines that I like AND can afford (no shortage of those!), then sit back and watch the -- uh -- show . . . .

                                    2. re: Porthos

                                      En primeur - - no.

                                      Vintages that have come to market - - I'd argue yes. Lafite anything has gone crazy, and I believe that most everyone who is buying it is either doing so on behalf of the Chinese market, or is speculating with the Chinese market as the final destination. When the 2000 Lafite is going for double, sometimes triple, what the 2000 Margaux is at auction, we know it's not "personal taste" driving demand.

                                2. re: Charles Yu

                                  <However, to layman and amateur like myself, who are not member of the 'trade' and might not have a chance to do barrel tasting or sample the wine before buying, we have no choice but to rely on the judgement and tastes of 'experts'! >

                                  Charles, you DO have a choice. Your palate is the only one that counts to YOU. And establishing a relationship with a reputable wine merchant or two in your area is a much better way to learn to discern you personal tastes. Those merchants are interested in your business and your recommendations to friends, not to mention their own reputations.

                                  This is the way I started my wine journey, and it is not nearly as expensive nor as frought with "mines" and mistakes as if you follow any (necessarily impersonal) wine publication's recommendations.

                                  You will learn who are the better producers, who are the more reliable importers/distributors... tons of invaluable advice no publication is going to reveal They are in it for the money, pure and simple.

                                  Over time, through personal conversation, your wine merchants will learn what you do and don't like, and can make appropriate recommendations for new wines for you to try.

                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                    ««However, to layman and amateur like myself, who are not member of the 'trade' and might not have a chance to do barrel tasting or sample the wine before buying, we have no choice but to rely on the judgement and tastes of 'experts'! »»

                                    FWIW, I'm a fellow layman and amateur like you.

                                    Barrel tastings can be useless. Thanks to friends, I have had the opportunity to taste verjus immediately following crush as well as wines in barrels at various stages. My impressions have ranged from "how can something this good turn into a wine this bad?" to the exact opposite. I hope that you have an opportunity to taste from barrel yourself, but approach it as just something fun to do.

                                    Judgement and taste of experts: do you like what they like? No? Then why follow them? They each have personal preferences so someone like Parker would do fine if I was looking for something that's heavily extracted and with high ABV. I actually did use a Parker tasting note to buy the La Barroche Pure because I wanted to see how a French winery makes an Australian-style Grenache, but would I use him as a reference for the wines of Burgundy, Germany, Austria, Alsace, Canada or New Zealand? No…

                                    Bottom line: keep tasting. It's nice to have the odd trophy bottle here and there, but at the end of the day it's still grape juice with a little alcohol so better to have something you like rather than something someone else says you should like.

                                    I have a small list of wines that I try and buy vintage after vintage because I like the producer and the wines (some vintages are duds, some are spectacular), but I try and stay open to "interesting" bottles that I might not have had an opportunity to try yet.

                                    I find those by listening to good sommeliers (they are few and far between), the retailers and importers who I've dealt with over the years, and my oenophile friends. The latter two know my personal idiosyncracies and will taste many more bottles that I ever could so they'd have a better chance of suggesting something quaffable than a tasting note.

                                  2. re: zin1953

                                    Yep Jason--for me if I see Parker rate a Bordeaux from the 70s or 80s in the 81 - 87 point range, I know it'll be a good honest claret, probably not too intense, but complex, tasty and one that I'll be very happy to have in my glass, especially at the price it'll trade for with that rating!

                                    Do you mean that your palate and his align more in the northern than southern Rhone? I find I can't rely on him to match my preferences in either. In the north, I find the wines he likes to be generally too syrupy and overoaked (an issue for me everywhere), and I think he does not have a great track record in evaluating the longevity of wines that age on their acidity--look at his drinking windows for Gentaz, for example. I find it hard to take seriously scores like 88 for both the '93 and '92 Chave, and 89 for the '91 vintage--sadly for me, the market has disregarded that one!

                                    For the south, I find that almost every wine he champions other than Rayas and Bonneau is a one-dimensional, overbearing monstrosity. I'd be curious to see how he'd rate wines like the '78 and '90 Rayas today, which I think are fabulous but red fruity wines with high acidity aren't exactly in his wheelhouse these days.

                                    1. re: craig_g

                                      >>> Do you mean that your palate and his align more in the northern than southern Rhone? <<<

                                      Uh, not what I said . . .

                                      "All I can tell you is that, when it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah from California, I find myself avoiding Parker's highest rated wines like the plague! I much prefer wines he rates in the, say 88-90 range than wines he rates 94-100. The same is true for his palate v. mine when it comes to Australian reds, and red wines from the Rhône (albeit northern more so than southern)."

                                      Now , I *think* what that means -- or at least what I meant -- was that when Parker rates/rated a wine 94-100 from California, from Bordeaux, from Australia, from the Rhône (especially from the north), I avoid them like the plague. Don't take that and run with it: I'm not the biggest fan of his Southern Rhône ratings either, but I have found that I agreed with him a few more times in the South than in the North.

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        Some of the better wines I've had have been cursed with a Parker score of 89.

                                  3. Thank you all for your expert feedback and advise! Much appreciated!

                                    I do recognize the importance of ' constant tasting ' to expand one's knowledge base and improve/educate one's taste buds. I also appreciate the advice of striking up a friendly relationship with local wine merchants...etc ( in our case in Toronto, it will be so called 'product consultants' of the local LCBO stores. However, based on my experience and interaction with some of them, their knowledge base is much less extensive than one would led to believe! ).

                                    However, there do exist scenarios that the above might not apply?! For example, if I am to invest in a bottle or two of expensive and slightly obscure trophy wines like Guigal's Cote Rotie La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque or Gaja's Bararesco Costa Russi, Sori San Lorenzo and Sori Tilden. Their rarity and prohibtive cost would prevent me from performing the ' drink first, compare and then buy later ' option! Furthermore, I doubt any of those ' government employed' consultants would ever be allowed to taste test all those super-expensive and rare treasures! ( upper management/buyers may be, but 'floor level' employees? I don't think so! )

                                    Now, in any given year ( except may be 1985 for the Guigal's when all three were rated 'equally' perfect ), there will always be a 'stand-out' wine or two amongst the brethens, be it the Guigal or the Gajas or Leovilles....?!! Not only is this 'standout' taste better, the 're-sale' value is also more, as reflected by the $200+ more per bottle between the 1990 La Landonne vs La Turque in recent wine auctions! So, without the chance of taste first, buy later and insufficient feed back from store consultants. For someone with limited budget and a will to obtain the best, isn't tasting notes from the Parker's, Wine Spectators, Decanters..still the only way to go?!

                                    But! with huge decrepencies amongst these 'experts' a normal occurrance, guess its back to my previous comment: ' Fingers cross and hope for the best'!

                                    ( I actually did that to the 1989 Bordeaux years ago!. At that time, a 'poor me', was willing to dish out money on 'one' wine. I narrowed down my choices to the similar priced and similarly rated Margaux and Haut Brion. I ended up chosing the Haut Brion.... Thank God! Recent auction price of the HB almost tripled the Margaux!! )

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      Charles, a few comments if I may . . .

                                      To start with, I cannot speak to people employed by the LCBO; I haven't shopped in an LCBO since 1974 or so. I do, however, know a number of people employed by Vintages (or former Vintages employees now back with the LCBO "proper"), and they are among the most knowledgable people I know in the wine trade.

                                      Secondly . . .

                                      >>> For example, if I am to invest in a bottle or two of expensive and slightly obscure trophy wines like Guigal's Cote Rotie La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque or Gaja's Bararesco Costa Russi, Sori San Lorenzo and Sori Tilden. Their rarity and prohibtive cost would prevent me from performing the ' drink first, compare and then buy later ' option! <<<

                                      . . . name one wine in the above quote that is "slightly obscure". Are you seriously suggesting that the "La-La's" are not among the most sought after wines in the world? Or that Gaja's single-vineyard Barbarescos are not valued throughout the world?

                                      PLUS, Charles, look at the production volumes . . . Gaja's TOTAL production annually averages less than 30,000 cases per year, and THAT'S divided among 18 different wines. Guigal? La Landonne typically totals 800 cases annually, and La Mouline and La Turque normally run between 300-400 cases each. Compare these figures to the production at Château Lafite Rothschild (35,000 cases total, with 20,000 of the Premier Cru), or Château Léoville-las-Cases almost 17,000 cases of the grand vin and over 20,000 cases of their second label), etc., etc., etc.

                                      Third . . .

                                      >>> For someone with limited budget and a will to obtain the best, isn't tasting notes from the Parker's, Wine Spectators, Decanters..still the only way to go?! <<<

                                      Charles, with respect, a) IF you have a limited budget, why are you buying these wines in the first place? b) the "only" way to go? Heck, no!

                                      >>> Now, in any given year ( except may be 1985 for the Guigal's when all three were rated 'equally' perfect ), there will always be a 'stand-out' wine or two amongst the brethens, be it the Guigal or the Gajas or Leovilles....?!! <<<

                                      Uh, no. There is more than one great wine on the planet in any given vintage. That said, Guigal has received more 100 point ratings by Robert M. Parker than any other single wine producer. As of 2009, this meant 21 wines, consisting of seven vintages of La Landonne (1985-2005), nine vintages of La Mouline (1976-2005), and five vintages of La Turque (1985-2005).

                                      >>> Thank God! Recent auction price of the HB almost tripled the Margaux!! <<<

                                      As I said above, you and I view wine VERY differently -- the idea of buying wine for anything other than consumption would never occur to me.

                                      Cheers,
                                      Jason

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        Oops! Didn't realize why I used the word 'obscure' in my write-up?! I was meaning to say 'hard to obtain'.

                                        When I talked about great wine in any given vintage. I was referring to 'only' those producers like the Gaja's or Guigals who made different wines of the same varietals from separate vineyards and then see how one could pick out the best of the brethens before buying, citing the fact that due to terroir, there might be a real 'stand-out'?!

                                        Yes, guess we view wine pretty differently. In my case I purchase them for consumption and when the opportunity arises, sell some of them as investments since there's an annual LCBO wine auction now in tow

                                        1. re: Charles Yu

                                          Charles, forgive me if I am mistaken, but it *does* seem that -- throughout many of your posts here on CH, not just in this thread -- that you often (if not always) look towards the potential investment value of your wine purchases. What I would say to you is that ANY of the "La-La's," ANY of Gaja's single vineyard Barbarescos will ALWYS have significant resale value, if that's your concern. NONE of them will fail to provide a "return on investment," presuming you buy them at release on the primary market.

                                          Now, will some give you a higher return than others? Sure. Will it vary by vintage? Of course. But it also boils down to far more than JUST "Parker numbers." La Turque and La Mouline will usually sell for more than La Landonne at auction not only due to high quality, but also because their production levels are (approx.) 50% of La Landonne -- ergo, more difficult to get. The same goes for Gaja's Barbarescos -- at auctions, the smaller crus cost more than the larger ones.

                                          Both Guigal and Gaja are known for "declassifying" their wines if not up to their standards -- finding a BAD Gaja is rather difficult to do. But you know something? A wine like the 1963 Château Lafite is extraordinary valuable, even though it may be the worst wine that estate produced in the decade . . . so, too, 1968 Château d'Yquem -- a wine that the Marquis de Lur-Saluces apologized for making in the first place . . . .

                                          Cheers,
                                          Jason

                                          1. re: zin1953

                                            Thanks again for your insight, Jason!!! Have a NICE day!!

                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                              Charles,

                                              I make my living in the wine auction business, and I would make one comment: if you purchase a wine for investment, you're making the statement that either the producer (if you buy on release) or every other participant in the auction market is not just wrong, but SO wrong that you can overcome the buyer's and seller's commissions, cost of dealing with physical inventory (insurance, delivery charges, cellarage, and risk-free rate of return).

                                              Obviously, I think the auction market is a great place to buy and sell wine; otherwise I wouldn't have this job. But I have great reservations about anyone's ability to buy wines everyone knows about and lock up a profit.

                                              1. re: craig_g

                                                Thanks craig_g!
                                                By investment, I'm thinking more in the line of selecting and purchaing wisely from futures and selling some surplus through auctions down the road. So far, I've made some surprising and unexpected profits on the 2000 Bordeaux like the Leoville Barton.