One of the biggest misconceptions of our times is, newer is always better. In my line of work, along with most lines of work, this is both true and false. Not everyone is capable of change, and in some cases there are those who are resistant to it. But there are those who also accept it and follow the tides. Either way a decision has to be made whether the outcome is good or bad. What I don’t agree with is someone just giving in and letting the “tail wag the dog.” This has been the case in wine for quite some time, and I’m going to speak out about it.
In 1982, Bordeaux had what some would say is one of their best vintages ever. Around that time a man by the name of Robert Parker would hit the wine scene and be one of the most influential spokes persons for the 1982 Bordeaux. Needless to say, he was right about the vintage and the great wines that were produced from it, and from that point on the rest, as they say, became history.
Robert Parker to this day, although less involved, is still one of the most influential individuals in the wine business. His company, The Wine Advocate, has become one of leading sources for wine reviews and general information about wine. I personally have nothing against Robert Parker because he has openly stated that his reviews are biased and based on what he likes. This is contrary to the Wine Spectator who believe they are the final word because of their 11 person “blind” tasting panel. But what makes their opinion the last opinion?
I know this is somewhat hypocritical because some of you reading this can probably remember me saying “Robert Parker gave this a …” or “the Wine Spectator gave this…” but I only resort to this when I don’t know your likes and dislikes, and this is my method of figuring it out. It gives me an idea as to the styles of wine our customers like based on the reviewers they choose. I’m not saying I know better than these people, but I give the customer a chance to choose for themselves instead of having someone else do it for them.
Clos du Val is a great example of allowing the customer to choose for themselves. Clos du Val is a classic Napa winery that was one of the founding wineries along with being one of the wineries showcased in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. The wines by Clos du Val are a great example of classic Napa. This, however, does not go over well with the major reviewers because the wines are leaner and not as full bodied as they would like. As such, Clos du Val has received mediocre reviews over the years, almost ruining them. But the reviews are very contrary to how people actually feel about the wines. I recently brought back Clos du Val because I really enjoy their wines and what they represent and was happy to see how well they have been received by our customers. Clos du Val might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but they happen to be great wines at an unbelievable value no matter what others may say.
I’m not saying to stop reading reviews; on the contrary, keep reading them. There are wines there that some of us will only dream of trying, and if you can live vicariously through them, why wouldn’t you? What I am saying is to trust yourself first, us second, and when all else fails the reviewers. There is a big difference in reviewing wines 50 at a time to having one bottle and enjoying the hell out of it.