Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Recommendations from all sources

When it comes down to it, the best recommendation comes from the person next to you when you are in the wine shop. That is how I came to purchase a bottle of Valduero Crianza 2003 from Ribera del Duero in Spain.

I went into my local wine shop and asked for them to show me a good bottle of wine for a decent price. The guy in the shop, In Vino Veritas handed me this wine and it had a tag on it that noted that the Wine Advocate had rated this wine 92. The sales person really seemed to think this wine was a good one and so I took it. There was little else to recommend the wine over any of the others.

When I got home I went to check out the wine on the other major reviewing sites and I could not find it. I went to the International Wine Cellar, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits and I could not find this wine listed. Surely, if one of them had rated the wine as highly as a 92, it must be at least listed in the other publications, right?

Nope. I even took a look at Valduero website and the most recent wine listed is the 1999 Crianza. To be fair, I did find some other vintages of this wine listed and rated, but not with any consistency. However, this leads to the question of was the wine tasted and just not good enough to be rated? Is it possible that one reviewer rated a wine in the 90’s and another did not think it worth even a lowly 85 (usually the lowest a wine can be rated while still having its rating published).

It really shocks me how hard it is to find information about this wine. And this is not the first wine I have tried to look up with such poor results. It seems that even the simplest of ideas, that the winery’s website should be up-to-date with the most recent vintages of the wines (an activity that would at most take a half hour once a year), are simply too much for some of these businesses. With the blogosphere growing at such a rapid pace, and wine blogging becoming a part of this movement, company websites have become an important resource for those that cannot travel around the world to discuss the product with the business/winery.

I popped open the bottled and drank to the health of the clerk. It was an ok wine, I think perhaps a little past its prime. It definitely did not age gracefully. Perhaps when the wine was young, it could have been interesting, but at the moment I tasted it there was little left. The main component was a bit of vanilla and prunes. There was some fruit up front, but I found it to be choked off by new oak flavors.

When all was said and done, I can only blame the staff member at the wine store for the recommendation. Yes there was a 92-point recommendation from the Wine Advocate, but it turned out I didn’t like the wine all that much. There could have been other factors why this wine ended up in my hands. It is possible they had not tasted the wine, or had not tasted it lately. It’s possible that it was a wine they wanted to unload and I was the sap that walked through the door.

The moral of the story? Find a retailer you trust and visit them often. Let them get to know you and your tastes. The stronger the relationship, the better wines that they will steer you towards.

And wineries, please update your websites. It is the simplest thing and will help you greatly in your goal of promoting your wines.
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