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Sep 4, 2011 06:50 PM

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:

        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?


                  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 Ch√Ęteauneuf-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 Ch√Ęteau 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.