Archive for the Wine Ratings Category

A GREAT CASE OF 90 POINT WINES FOR UNDER $100.00

Posted in Info on Wine, Shopping for Wine, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , , on April 3, 2010 by ballymote

You could spend almost $100 on a case of Beringer White Zinfandel (yuck) or Turning Leaf Merlot (double yuck). It’s not easy to find really good wines where you can select 12 bottles for less than 100 bucks and know that you have wines that you could proudly serve to the most discriminating wine snobs like myself. So where is this great grape bargain taking place, you may ask?  Well, for those of you in South Jersey or even those willing to journey across the bridge from Philly, you can, for a limited time, find these wines in Marlton, NJ at my favorite wine store, Canal’s Bottle Stop on Route 70 just pass the Rt 73 Circle. Here are the wines that will make up your money-saving case:6 bottles of 2008 Bodegas Borsao Campo De Borja priced at $6.49

3 bottles of 2007 Bodegas Alto Almanzora Este Almeria at $8.88

3 bottle of 2008 Marquis-Philips “Sarah’s Blend” at $10.99

The total for the 12 bottle prices out at $98.55

The Borsao is made from 80% Garnacha and 20% Tempranillo and is rated 89 Points by Wine Spectator.

The Este Almanzora is a blend of 6 grapes and comes from Spain, as does the Borsao, the two primary grapes being 45% Monastrell and 25 % Tempranillo, and is rated 90 points by The Wine Advocate.

The Marquis-Philips “Sarah’s Blend” is from Australia and composed of 63% Shiraz and 26% Cabernet with a splash of Merlot and Cab Franc and is rated 91 points by The Wine Advocate.

Three terrific wines at a very affordable price. Stop reading NOW and head on over to Canal’s BottleStop in Marlton before the prices increase. I can’t think of a better way to spend one hundred dollars!!

A WEALTH OF WINNING WINES ON A WINTER WEEKEND

Posted in Info on Wine, Tasting Notes, Uncategorized, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2010 by ballymote

This past weekend was our 2nd Annual Avalon Winter Weekend. Nine of us gathered at my brother’s beach house for 48 hours of good food, good wines and great conversation. The participants are the women that my wife has known since her high school days and their husbands. If nine people sounds like it doesn’t divide quite right into an equal number of husbands give yourself bonus points for being a math whiz. One of the women, Kathie M. is not burdened with a member of the brighter sex . The coupled group in  attendance for the decadent weekend included, Gerry and JoAnn B, John and Caryl G. John and Cathy B. and my wife, Kathy and I.

I began with a wine from France and slowly made my way through Napa and Sonoma in California, New Zealand, Spain, Australia and almost the Niagara Peninsula in Canada (a dessert wine that ended up coming back home with me). Instead of notes on each of the wines I will, in the interest of brevity, simply mention a few that stood out for me on their own and as accompaniment to the two BYOB meals we enjoyed on successive nights.

Most of the guests had already arrived when I pulled up to the Avalon house. They were well into the wine and quickly poured me a glass of 2007 Domaine de Soleiades, Vacqueyras. This is a nice, inexpensive Cote du Rhone wine that has a wonderful nose and a pleasant texture that would be very food-friendly. It is an 89-90 point wine.

 There was just time enough to sample Kathie M’s 2006 Annabella Cabernet. It was far from my favorite wine of the week but it was certainly drinkable.I’d give this a respectable 87 points. Just to show you how taste buds differ. Here are two different notes on this same wine.

 Perfect California Cabernet

By Umansky11382490, October 28, 2008
A great midpriced California Cabernet that is both complex and smooth. Loved it!

And on the other hand…

Absolutely Terrible

By bloom2022, March 29, 2008
Extremely vegetal and pretty acidic. So bad not even the new oak can cover it up. Really awful stuff. If you oaked the water from the flower-vase, this is what it would taste like.

 At dinner we went with a line-up of wines that included the 2006 Tudor, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands. This was a very nice Pinot that went well with my chicken entrée. I’d give it 91 points. We also had the very drinkable 2004 Whitehall Lane Napa Cabernet. The one thing I have found with Whitehall Lane cabs from any vintage is that they are dependable. They may not be the absolute best but for the price they always deliver true cab flavors and in some years prove themselves to be excellent wines. This one deserved a 91. My personal contribution was the 2004 Elderton, “Ashmeade Single Vineyard “ Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa, Australia. Quite honestly, I didn’t realize this was $65.00 cab as I chose it from a table of wines when my brother offered me to “go pick what you want” over the Christmas holidays. I don’t often think of Australia when I think of cabernet so I was, as were others, pleasantly surprised. This one hit all the right notes from a powerful bouquet of ripe dark fruits to a smooth and lingering finish. I’d have to give it a solid 93. Also present at the Friday evening dinner was a 2004 Capafons – Osso, Sirsell, Priorat a blend of Garnache, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Carinane from Spain. It was deserving of more attention and although I know I tried it I can not accurately reflect on it’s drinkability. Later that evening, as the cigar smokers bundled themselves against the bitter cold and ocean winds to smoke their cigars on the back deck, a 2006 Hesketh, McLaren Vale, “The Usual Suspects”, Shiraz was popped. This was a typical fruit-driven Aussie shiraz and I mean that in a good way as McLaren vale is a shiraz region that we have come to depend on for yummy flavors. It’s a wine you could proudly serve to Kaiser Soze!! Score this one 91 points. I don’t smoke cigars and it was way too cold to join them so I relaxed and read some before bed.

We went to the Avalon Liquor Store on Saturday while the women enjoyed a movie in Wildwood. Gerry B. bought a couple of bottles of Napa cab and we had a nice lunch at Harbor’s Bizarre (don’t ask me why, but I LOVE that name) in Stone Harbor.

At dinner on Saturday evening we had some really nice wines.  John G brought a 2006 Wither Hills, Pinot Noir from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. I enjoyed this with my chicken entree and feel it’s worth a solid 90 points. . Gerry B. had a 2004 Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain Cabernet which we had enjoyed at a previous BYOB dinner during the summer. I know Gerry will score this higher but I’d say it checks in at a 91. Another wine that I seem to enjoy more than some others and that is not immune from being maligned (unfairly, I would say) is the 2003 Chateau St. Jean, “Cinq Cepages” which is one of the few wines that seems to be dropping in price every year since claiming the Wine of the Year Award by Wine Spectator Magazine back around the turn of the century. I’m gonna give this a solid 93. We also sipped a wine we all like the 2005 Thumbprint Cellars “Climax” from Sonoma County. The description of this meritage wine on the back label borders on pornographic! I’d have to say 92 for this “Climax”.

There were other wines present that never got opened. Hey, we only had about 38 hours! We did our best. Actually, there were a few sipping wines floating around that I neglected to note. I think one was a Hogue Cabernet. At any rate, it was a lot of fun to enjoy so many wines in the company of good friends. We are all looking forward to a continued downward spiral in the South Jersey real estate market which might make a Third Annual Avalon Winter Weekend a possibility next year!

2007 VAYNIAC CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY

Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Tasting Notes, Wine Ratings with tags , , , on December 19, 2009 by ballymote

The 2007 Vayniac Cabernet Sauvignon finally arrived at my house almost 2 years after purchase. It isn’t that Gary Vaynerchuk and the shipping department at the Wine Library in Springfield, NJ are dropping the ball, it’s because the wine was a “futures” purchase back in 2007. That means you buy the wine prior to it being ready for shipment. In this case, the wine was purchased prior to the grapes even being harvested.

This was the original announcement from 2 years ago:

As he announced in the special 305th episode of Wine Library TV (watch the video here), Gary V is offering all Vayniacs a unique opportunity to be a part of the wine making process! In collaboration with Crushpad, YOU can be involved with the crush and barrel tasting of the yet to be made 2007 Vayniac Napa Cabernet!

The production will be overseen by Kian Tavakoli (formerly of such California mainstays as Clos du Val and Opus One!) and Camille Benitah (assistant winemaker at cult winery Merus), with the fruit being sourced from such legendary Napa sites as Oakville, Mount Veeder, Coombsville and Howell Mountain. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many to be involved in the winemaking process and enjoy the wine for many years to come! Here is the final blend:

The Final Blend: 83% Cabernet Sauvignon from Suscol Bench (24.9%), Young Inglewood (24.9%), Godspeed (16.6%), and Carrefour (16.6%) Vineyards. 10% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.

So, after years of anticipation, my wine arrives on my doorstep, I check all the boards and blogs for a review and find nothing. It’s hard to believe that with all the “Vayniac’s” out there, I can’t find a review on the 2007 Vayniac Cabernet. Anyway, here is mine. Uncorked last night at a restaurant in Cherry Hill, NJ (full review will appear on this blog shortly) while awaiting a nice filet mignon in a peppercorn sauce. Unfortunately, the wine didn’t last until the entree arrived. It was a VERY leisurely paced dinner.  The Vayniac was a very dark ruby bordering on black in the glass. The nose was magnificent. Black fruits and dark berries flooding the senses. Hints of dark chocolate and a floral bouquet in the background. Possibly as good as any nose as I have experienced in quite some  time. My own nose kept returning to the bowl of the glass at least 50 times. On the palate the wine was soft yet textured with many of the same fruits. The finish was smooth and close to 50 seconds. If I had one possible negative it would be that I felt it closed up in the second hour just a bit whereas many wines grow better with time in the glass. My wife, Kathy disagreed with my “closed up” verdict. She thought it stayed very good throughout.

The 2007 Vayniac Cabernet certainly drinks like a wine that could cost more than the $37.99 “futures” price. It now retails at the Wine Library for $44.99. I saw while looking for a review that someone had it for a short time on Craig’s List for $500.00, The ad was removed, most likely after the seller received hilarious responses to his offer. I’d rate this wine 93 points. I could have gone a point higher had it not appeared to fade in the end for me.

FOUR FINE WINES

Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Uncategorized, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ballymote

It’s not often I have the opportunity to experience a quartet of excellent wines on the same day. This past Saturday on a weekend trip to the Big Apple, that opportunity presented itself. My fellow oenophile, Gerry B. stopped by the New York Wine Exchange and picked up a bottle of the 2005 O’Shaughnessy, Howell Mountain, Cabernet Sauvignon. I had brought with me from my humble collection, a 2005 Larkmead, Oakville Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon.

We popped both of these in our room at the Marriott prior to dinner. It probably wasn’t fair to the O’Shaughnessy because I know from past experience that this is a huge wine that needs to be open a couple of hours before drinking in order for its true flavors to show. Parker had scored this wine 95 points and it has a great bouquet of licorice, dark berry fruit and tobacco. It’s smooth but quite tannic and that’s where not allowing it to breathe serves as an injustice. I’d give this one a 92 and blame the score on our lack of patience.

The Larkmead showed much better and although Parker gave it a 92, I think all of us thought it deserved higher. I’d give this one a 94. It’s not quite as full-bodied as the O’Shaughnessy but it felt more balanced and the flavors were crisp and precise with undertones of rich spices and blackberries.  We could probably have finished both bottles but it was time to get ready for dinner and more wine at Tribeca Grill.

Aside from the food, Tribeca Grill is a consistent winner of Wine Spectator’s Grand Award for their extensive 1800 selection wine list. I was thrilled to find the 2005 Lillian’s White Hawk Vineyard Syrah.  I had always wanted to try this wine having read so many rave reviews on the various wine boards. The fact that winemaker, Maggie Harrison, was the former assistant winemaker at Sine Que Non, which I have also never experienced, added to my excitement. The first taste was magical. Very seldom to you get a wine that delivers everything you are looking for in the beverage you are so passionate about. The Lillian Syrah delivers on so many different levels. It’s dark and brooding and packs so much flavor that you grasp for the right words. If Sarah and Sparky Marquis didn’t already capture the name “Velvet Glove” for their ultra-premium Mollydooker Wine, it would be perfect for the Lillian. It’s like getting hit with a velvet glove. The wine has smoothness down to a science and drinking it with my duck breast entree was like a meal designed in heaven. I’d give this one a 98 and place it #2 on my all-time list of wines. It was, as the sommelier mentioned when pouring at our table, “like drinking Sine Qua Non for one-third the price”.

Gerry had chosen the 2005 Venge Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. This was an interesting wine. Parker had scored it a 92 with these remarks in December of 2007 “exhibits a deep ruby/purple color, loads of new oak, plenty of cassis fruit, high tannins and a noticeable acidity.”

I found it to be the lightest Cabernet, in color, of any I have ever had. It almost looked light for a Pinot Noir. It has a beautiful nose and is exceptionally smooth but I found the fruit flavors subtle, not bold, and almost, not just Bordeaux like, but  Burgundian. It was good, but so different that I could never pin it down and I gave it a 90. I think both wives agreed with me but Gerry loved it; even more than the Lillian Syrah. I guess that’s why they make more than one type of wine and why the true way to judge a wine is by your own palate and not by high scores or the opinion of others.

The truth is that all four of these fine wines were excellent. They each had their own story to tell and all of them added to my own personal history of wine drinking pleasure.

A QUICK GUIDE TO RECENT WINE VINTAGES

Posted in Info on Wine, Shopping for Wine, Wine Ratings with tags , on November 12, 2009 by ballymote

Haut_Brion_lineupWhy does buying wine have to be so damn hard? It’s bad enough that you have to select from thousands of possibilities but you also have to choose a wine from the right vintage. Vintage refers to the year that the wine was produced. Remember, most wines, at least the ones we want to drink, spend a certain amount of time in some sort of barrels. By the time the wine is on the shelves of our local wine merchant, a year and probably somewhat more, has passed. I’m not going to go thru every year and describe the wines of that vintage but here are a couple of hints on the better vintages in some of the wine growing regions since the start of this decade.

wine collage

If you are looking for the best that France has to offer you will want to buy wines from the 2005 or 2000 vintage. Both of these years were outstanding and the wines from these years are, for the most part, great examples of how good French wines can be. A word of caution; because these vintages were so good, you can expect to pay more for wines from 2000 and 2005.

Italy is another very popular place for wine enthusiasts. There are several different wine growing areas in Italy with contrasting climates, so that one can not uniformily give the entire country one vintage rating. For now, we will just focus on Tuscany and the wines of Chianti. The best years of this decade were 2006 and 2004. Remember, when you are shopping for Chianti spend the extra money and always choose the Chianti Classico Riserva. It’s the good stuff!

If you are a fan of California Cabernets you might want to narrow your search to bottles from 2007, 2001, 2005, or 2002. This isn’t to say wines from other vintages aren’t good. It simply means these were the years that lent themselves, through good weather, to better grapes, allowing the wine makers to work their charms.

If Australian wines float your boat you should select from 2005, 2001, 2002 or 2006, in that order, especially wines from Barossa or McLaren ValeIMG_2436 (see my earlier post on “my all-time favorite wine”, the 2001 Shirvington Shiraz). The wines of 2005 from this area are rated higher than both 01 and 02 but as good as the 05′s might be I honestly feel that the great wines from McLaren Vale in both 01 and 02, far surpass even the 05 in drinkability. Discovering the sheer power and balance of the that 2001 Shirvington was one of the great wine-tasting events in my life.

Wines from Spain are the new rage and the prices are, for the time being, very reasonable. In a few years, as their popularity increases, you can expect to pay more for Spanish wines. If you want to look for the better vintages I would suggest 2004 or 2001 with 2005 close behind. Unfortunately, wines from Spain don’t spend a lot of time on the shelves so it’s possible all you will see are bottles from newer vintages. Don’t let that deter you, as even the current wines can be a great compliments to all kinds of foods.

The Malbecs from Argentina have had outstanding ratings in each of the last five vintages, so for you, this is a no-brainer. Any bottle of Malbec from Argentina is from a good vintage, and many are available for $10.00 to $12.00. It’s up to you to try a few different producers and settle on the one you find most enjoyable.

For Oregon Pinot Noirs, the vintage now on most shelves, the 2008′s, are rated higher than any other vintage of this decade. Pinot Noir is one of my favorite varietals and the ones from Oregon are excellent. The more you are willing to spend for these, the better your chances of experiencing the true flavors of this grape varietal.

As you might have noticed, my preference is for red wines. I do acknowledge that there is room in life for white wines. With that in mind, if you like Chardonnay from sunny California, I would suggest the vintages from 2005 with 2007 and 2004 just slightly behind.

In Germany, the Rieslings from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, 2005 vintage were outstanding with excellent wines also being produced in both 2006 and 2001.

BookHoursThere are many web sites online where you can find vintage charts. Some are downloadable as pocket fold-ups that can be carried in your wallet and used as a resource when you are browsing the wines shelves. Remember, good wines can come from any vintage. There are wine makers working all over the world who are talented enough to create good wines from bad vintages. Hopefully, the information I have given you here will help you find the best that each wine growing country has to offer.

SPRING MILL CAFE – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Philly BYOB Reviews, Spring Mill Cafe, Wine Dinners, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2009 by ballymote

My friends Gerry and John met me for dinner last night at the Spring Mill Cafe in Conshohocken, PA.IMG_2944 This quaint French country restaurant is slightly off the beaten path in the shadow of the Schuylkill Expressway.

When I arrived, my wine drinking friends were halfway through their traditional pre-dinner cigar, ensconced in chairs outside the restaurant and sipping an Aussie shiraz as they puffed. As usual, I passed on the smoke and joined in the wine. I was the tie-breaking vote on this wine which was deemed drinkable, if not memorable. Once the cigars were extinguished, we moved inside for our meal. The building housing the Spring Mill Cafe was originally built as a General Store in 1831 which was slightly before John and my time although we think Gerry might have been a youngster and visited the General Store way back then. The present restaurant began in 1978 and has been serving French Provincial food to satisfied diners for the past 30 years.

I forgot to take pictures of the food as I was focused on our wines for the evening. I will say, Gerry had the pate “sampler” and John had the escargot for appetizers.pate I passed on those and ordered the duck. Wait, let me say that correctly, Gerry and I ordered the Magret de Canard Asiatique, seared boneless duck breast with grilled shrimp and an orange ginger beurre blanc with black rice and bok choy. It was kinda like Paris meets Beijing on your palate. The duck was cooked nicely and the black rice and bok choy were nice compliments to the dish. John had the Filet Maison and thought it was excellent. 

Chef-owner, Michele Haines, who has been at the Spring House Cafe since its inception, was away on a trip to France. Her staff did a fine job in her absence.

For dessert I had the Creme Caramel and I believe Gerry and John had ice cream or a sorbet. My Creme Caramel was good but I felt the caramel sauce was a bit weak and watery and a slightly thicker offering would have improved the delicious custard-like treat. Our wines for the evening were all very good to excellent. I have to confess that for one of the few times I was completely lost as to three of our wines. They were Chairmen’s Selections from the PLCB State Stores as both Gerry and John are from the Philly side of the river. Here is what we had for the evening.IMG_2948  The lineup included from left to right, a 2005 Syan Cabernet Sauvignon from Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia. I have not had a lot of Aussie cabs but if this was representative then I better get moving. Lots of dark berry flavors and a smooth lingering finish. Parker gave barrel samples of this one 91-93 and now that it is bottled the 93 seems just about right. Next is the 2003 Highlands, Howell Mountain Cabernet. I don’t think I ever had anything from Howell Mt. that wasn’t top notch and the streak continues. I’d give this one a solid 92. The 2005 Clare Luce Abbey Estate Cab was a 100%cab, nothing added and it was intense with soft tannins and another long finish. Once again, I’d give this one a 92. Breaking the cab chain, we had the 2000 Jim Barry “The McCrae Wood”, Clare Vally, Shiraz. This was another heavy hitter from Oz that all of us enjoyed. This checked in with another 92. Our final wine of the evening was an old favorite, the 1999 Chappalet Cabernet Sauvignon. So much flavor present in this Napa cab that we had to give it a 94 and declare it the wine of the night. This was no small honor amongst the prestigious crowd in which it reigned.

We capped the night off back outside with cigars and chat which always prompts a good-natured disagreement among those of us who share different political and philosophical views. Tonights debate seemed to be focused on………..ahhhhhh, you don’t need to know that.

The Spring Mill Cafe was a good choice for our evening of food and wine.

VINO ON VACATION: A WEEK’S WORTH OF GOOD WINES

Posted in Info on Wine, Uncategorized, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2009 by ballymote

Blog Pics #001It just wouldn’t be a perfect vacation without a nice assortment of good wines to drink while sitting on the deck, reading a good book or dining at a local restaurant. Fortunately, last week in Avalon provided the opportunity to sip quite a few good wines. Here is a list of what we drank during those seven days with ratings and, in some cases, a comment or two where appropriate.

2007 St. Urbans-Hof Ockfener Bockstein Reisling Spatlese, a delicious white, summer wine, I give this one 91 points.

2002 Thorn-Clarke Barossa Shiraz, great for sipping with some cheese and crackers, 89 points.

2000 St. Francis, Nuns Canyon Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, took some time for this to lose it’s funk in the glass, then it was very good, 89 points.

2006 Kaiken Ultra, Cabernet Sauvignon, I had always liked the Malbec version of this one and the Cab proved a worthy partner, lots of flavor, 90 points.

2007 Landmark, Overlook, Chardonnay, just the right amount of oak, 90 points.

2005 Franciscan, Magnificat, Red Wine, excellent with a variety of meals we had all week, smooth and graceful, 93 points.

2004 Shirvington, McLarenVale, Shiraz, the four of us split on which of the Shirvington’s was better, I opted for this one and gave it 94 points for a barrage of red fruits.

2005 Shirvington, McLaren Vale, Shiraz, almost as good but slightly tamer than the 2004, which appealed to the others, 93 points.

2006 Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir, Oregon, a little pricey, but excellent with my halibut, however, the other three in our group decided they were not huge Pinot Noir fans, more for me, 93 points.

2005 Mollydooker, Enchanted Path, McLaren Vale, Shiraz/Cab, just stunning and we all agreed, Sparky and Sarah have done it again! 96 points.

2004 Whitehall Lane, Cabernet Sauvignon, this cab and stand with the best of them, goes well with red meat and pasta, 91 points.

I’ll have a little more on some of these wines when I do the BYOB reviews in a day or two. Overall, they were some good choices for the week.

WINE RATINGS – HOW TO USE THEM

Posted in Info on Wine, Wine Ratings with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2009 by ballymote

You are strolling the aisles of your favorite South Jersey wine outlet searching for that perfect red wine to accompany that scrumptious steak you are planning for Saturday night. Your eye catches one of those “shelf-talkers”, those obtrusive little “ads” highlighting the wine just above it on the shelf. This one says something like “deep flavors of blueberry and anise, with soft tannins and a super long finish, 92PTS-RP”. What’s it all mean?? Well, basically it means that RP, that would be Robert Parker, arguably the world’s foremost wine critic, likes this wine very much and awards it 92 points on his 100 point wine scale. Here is what his point scale looks like:

96-100:
An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.

90 – 95:
An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.

80 – 89:
A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws.

70 – 79:
An average wine with little distinction except that it is a soundly made. In essence, a straightforward, innocuous wine.

60 – 69:
A below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor, or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.

50 – 59:
A wine deemed to be unacceptable.

Does this mean YOU will like this wine? No, it does not.  It simply means HE likes this wine. In addition to wine scores from Robert Parker, who publishes the Wine Advocate, a wine rating guide available by subscription both on line and thru the mail, you will also find wine ratings offered by, the Wine Spectator, a big glossy semi-monthly magazine on wine. These are the two PRIMARY wine rating sources. Here is what the Wine Spectator’s 100 point guide looks like:

* 95-100 Classic: a great wine
* 90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
* 85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
* 80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
* 75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
* 50-74 Not recommended

You will also see scores given by a wide array of secondary wine sources such as, Stephen Tanzer of the International Wine Cellar, the Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits Magazine and The Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wines.

Many times the “shelf talker” will simply abbreviate the name of the rating source so you may see something like this on the card:

  • WA or RP =The Wine Advocate, or Robert Parker
  • WS = Wine Spectator
  • ST = Stephen Tanzer
  • WE = Wine Enthusiast
  • W & S = Wine and Spirits
  • CG = Connoisseur’s Guide

Keep in mind that these scores only reflect what that individual critic felt about the wine.  They do tell you that SOMEONE likes this wine and as a starting point for you, who at the moment is looking for a good wine that you will enjoy, this might be all you need to give that particular wine a try. As you progress and gain experience with your own palate you may find that you have a tendency to like the same wines as Stephen Tanzer or Robert Parker and seek out wines that have received high scores from them. These ratings can be especially helpful when a wine with a high score is accompanied by a low price. This is known as QPR or Quality Price Ratio but that is something for another day.

Finally, a word of caution concerning these wine ratings found on “shelf talkers”. You have to check to be certain the wine mentioned on the “shelf talker” is the exact same wine on the shelf above. Remember, these “cardboard ads” are placed there by the salesmen who sell these wines and often they will use a high rating from one year for a wine made in another year. Wines can vary from year to year and if it is not the same wine that scored the high points you may be disappointed with what you are drinking. So, Buyer Beware, check the vintage (year wine was made) on the label to be sure it matches with the wine being rated on the “shelf talker”. Enjoy!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers