Decanter World Wine Awards: Gold Medal & 5* - How good and reliable an indicator?
Living in North America, every time I encounter a less familiar wine that I haven't tried before, if possible, I will try to rely on either Wine Spectator or Robert Parker's review and rating to give me a rough idea about the wine before deciding to spend my money on them.
Recently, I have noticed the LCBO here in Ontario has featured a couple of Spanish wines that have won Gold medal in Decanter's World Wine Award and have garnered a 5/5 rating. In general, how does this rating compare to Wine Spectator's or R. Parker's rating? A 90+ or may be even a 95+ ( classic) rating?
One such wine is the Burgo Viejo Gran Reserva 2001
Charles, we've been through this before. Reviews are good (or bad) only to the extent that a) the writer/panel is CONSISTENT, and b) YOU understand the palate of the reviewer, his/her inherent biases and prejudices. So what makes Decanter -- the world's MOST respected wine publication -- any different than The Wine Spectator or the Wine Advocate?
When no or few information are available, one has to rely on other sources for guidance!
Back to your comment. How do I know or find out if certain 'writer/panel is CONSISTENT' if the wine involved is an obscure one, say a Portuguese or Mexican Red and in my case Spanish??!! French, Australian, Californian or Italian ratings and reviews are easier to decipher because of their popularity and usually the forte of most reviewers. But less popular ones from say, Argentina?? Some are now selling for three figures!! Don't think I can afford to do some trial and error tasting and buying.
Your second point 'YOU understand the palate of the reviewer, his/her inherent biases and prejudices' This is even harder to comprehend and achieve. Sometimes, I already have problem understanding the different view points between say, Suckling and Parker let alone trying to understand another someone or panel from across the ocean! Ha!
What I heard before was mostly for me to buy a bottle or two to try it out first, before buying some more, pending on the result of the tasting. However, my point is, IF the wine is so-so and 'over-rated' , even that one or two bottle is a waste of money! However, if that wine is really good and worth buying more or collecting, by the time one gets home to try, the wine in the store would have sold out!!. As such, we are back to square one! One would need to get an idea from authoritative sources 'BEFORE HAND'!.
Lastly, after so many years following both WS and RP, If a wine has a rating of say 95pts from them, I have almost complete confidence that it is worth a buy. But a ' Gold Medal'??!! With so many wine shows and competitions going on nowadays! How good an indicator is a Decanter gold medal? eg., Some of the Ontario wines I tried that won gold medals can be really mediocre and 'lousy'!! IMO!!
Your quoting of 'Decanter -- the world's MOST respected wine publication' cannot help but makes me think about and compare with 'Michelin - the world's MOST respected food publication'. For French food, Yes! but say, Chinese food in Hong Kong??!!
So, even' MOST respected' can be relative??!! No??!!
re: Charles Yu
Charles, we have different tastes in wine; that much is known. Thus, when you write, "If a wine has a rating of say 95pts from (WS and RP), I have almost complete confidence that it is worth a buy," for me, it is a signal to (mostly) avoid -- especially with Cabernet-based wines. But the difference between our palates is a key one: how did you learn that "95 points" equalled with "almost complete confidence that is is worth a buy," while I learned that it's a wine to generally avoid. (Again, we'll simply this discussion if we stick to Cabernet-based wine.) I would *think* the answer is that you have come to understand the palates of various reviewers employed by The Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate -- or, at least, the palates of Suckling and Parker -- and how their palates relate to yours; thus, you have the confidence to go out and buy. OTOH, I've had the opposite experience.
So I think you have proven my second point . . .
As to your other comments:
>>> When no or few information are available, one has to rely on other sources for guidance! <<<
Just out of curiosity, do you trust the palates of people here (and let's presume this applies ONLY to people on here you've never met in the real world, never shared a glass of wine together), or people like Michael Broadbent, Stephen Spurrier, Andrew Jefford, or Jancis Robinson? (All of whom, by the way, either have or presently write for Decanter.)
>>> What I heard before was mostly for me to buy a bottle or two to try it out first, before buying some more, pending on the result of the tasting. <<<
For me, that's sound advice still.
My bad, Charles: I forgot you buy to collect, rather to drink. Forgive me. You're quite right that if you try a bottle of wine first, you run the risk of the LCBO running out before you can go back and buy a case or two. So let me try to cut this short, as I have to leave for dinner in a few minutes:
1) NO PUBLICATION OR CRITIC will jive completely with your personal palate preference 100% of the time.
2) Medals are useless, but I trust Decanter's "stars" to be as reliable -- given Decanter's inherent palate preferences -- as Parker's points -- given his own personal palate preferences.
3) Nothing is a substitute for tasting the wine yourself.