It was an eye-opener. One wine in particular polarized option. For me it was the worst wine of the night: over-ripe, and with an unpleasant roast coffee overtone. One or two others liked it. Robert Parker gave it a perfect 100 points out of 100. These are the tasting notes of collectors who drink this wine on Cellartracker.
And it retails at £475 a bottle. My score? 86. Maybe that was a little generous, because I didn’t like it at all.
How do we deal with these sorts of divisions of opinion among critics?
First, we need to recognize that they exist, and are actually relatively common. We need to avoid being dogmatic, and avoid using situations where we feel someone else has got it wrong as a chance to bash them. Rather than focus on what we don’t like, we should be telling people about what we do like: it’s much healthier. Critic squabbles aren’t much fun to watch.
But we also need to avoid the platitude, ‘Oh, wine tasting is just subjective, and people should like what they like,’ because this renders the whole venture of wine criticism and assessment meaningless.
I think this is actually a poor wine. It’s not because of the ripeness and alcohol alone, because – after all – I love many Ports which are extremely ripe and have 20% alcohol. It’s because of the balance (it lacks it), the dead fruit (it’s just lacking definition), and the roast coffee character (it tastes like coffee Pinotage, which is OK if you like that sort of thing, and readily available at around £6 a bottle).
It’s just madness that this is 100 points and £475 a bottle. I don’t want to be part of any fine wine aesthetic system where this wine is held up as a benchmark.