I Do Love The Label Reader

Boy do I love the label reader’s. the boys and girls that say hey if it’s Gucci, Armani, Zegna or Ferrari, Bentley, Mercedes or maybe it’s Lafitte, Latour, D.R.C., Leroy it has to be good. Now some might know these labels by appearance, certainly the Automobile fits that description. And designers of clothing can be recognized unless of course it’s a knock off. And many wines have those recognizable labels. You can see them stare from across the room. Or watch how easy it is to make friends when uncorking a so called great label. But are these wines always the best, are they always worth the higher scores? No they’re not and how do I know? Well friends I was once that label reader, and in fact was the worse of the worse when it came to only buying the greatest of Suits, Cars, and yes Wine.

I frequently measure our wines against the world’s highest rated and rarest of bottles. Always within the same vintage, or close. We blind many more times than not and I can tell you the results are striking. I won’t mention any names but recently I opened both a Pinot and Chardonnay from the same producer that scored 98 and 96 points. This wine was made by a highly regarded wine maker and we opened these wines next to mine from the same vintage. I took the liberty of having my co-winemaker, and added to the mix three other people who are on different levels of wine knowledge. One extremely knowledgeable, one in the middle, and one starting out. Since you don’t need to guess, the tasting was not close and in fact the pinot from my competitor was barely drinkable. Barely drinkable for a 98 point wine. Something is wrong in wineville my friends. The ships running without a keel in a circle heading nowhere.

Some of this is from the writer himself who believes if the winemaker is famous the wine has to be good, some of this is from the wine directors who think the same. The wines are not varietal correct in many cases but these folks just don’t know any better. It’s a simple truth that if your told from an early age that black is white and white is black you will believe it, no other point of reference. If your told that a wine that is 13.5% on the label you believe it. But after tasting a while you can bet I’m leery of a label that says 13.5% and finishes hot. I can tell you there are wines that boast 14% and are really 16%. The reason I bring this up again is the wine is no longer Varietal correct, at least not in the case of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And if a young Sommelier has tasted only high Alc. wines for a long time that’s what he or she thinks is correct. It’s just the way things are! I don’t like being cheated, and if I’m told something it should stand to reason it’s reasonably correct. So 98 should be good, 13.5% should be close, and Gucci should be Gucci?

Look I’m not saying our wine we blinded in this scenario should receive a 98 but I am saying the 98 point wine was terrible and it’s a scam. It is not possible for one critic to judge blind all wines every year next to one another. But I believe a panel of tasters should score all wines blind send in their scores and use the net weighted score. They should never compare notes with each other, and not ever be sent the same wine as another judge at the same time. They should be sent in non labeled bottles and judged then scored as sample numbers. The wine then receives its average score and then revealed. Also by the way it should be tested for Alcohol, V.A., Sugar, Bret., T/A and Ph. also Sulfur.

Being transparent can only help the misinformed, weed out the misleader’s, and help the misfortunate. It will put the brilliant young up and coming wine maker on an equal playing field. It will give our consumers confidence and push the whole industry into better wines on every level. Oh and we might educate the misfortunate who have been told these untruths for so long and bring them to an awakening.

Here’s to the base pads all being 90 feet away and playing the same game,


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