Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rating the Raters (cont.)

Wine Spectator 82/2. The content of this rag is somewhat more interesting than the Wine Enthusiast, but I am not rating content, I am rating the raters. I find reading about restaurant awards for nonexistent restaurants quite entertaining.

The recent flap over naming the 2005 Columbia Crest Merlot, the wine of the year, makes one wonder about the quality of their ratings of wines. Don't get me wrong. Columbia Crest makes fine wines and I am happy that our largest producer is a quality producer, not one known for its "Hardly Burgundy." I am pleased a Washington winery won the award. I am not familiar with the wine in question, so I can only go with those who keep copious notes on such things. Paul Gregutt, for one, questioned the choice of wine - not the winery.

I just glanced at the February issue looking for the big Columbia Crest full-page ad. Didn't see it, but I did notice that the "Wine of the Year" 2006 version dropped to a 90. A full-color inside back cover might have helped that score.

What also makes me wonder, and a little Grumpy, is that in 25 years they have never reviewed a wine from Bonair Winery. We have a whole page of awards from everywhere else. Why has Bonair not been reviewed? I know we have submitted wines for review. Perhaps they have a preconceived notion of what's good and what's not. Only wines that someone else thinks are good get reviewed.

But wait, on their website they state "Our goal is to review wines that are important and available to our readers. In most cases, we review only wines that are distributed in major markets in the United States." I get it, only major schlock is reviewed. Most Northwest wines do not have distribution in major markets. To meet this goal, the winery must be 100,000 cases or larger. Also note, that the "Wine of the Year" was sold out at time of publication and not " available to our readers".

They say they use a committee for judging wines and it is a blind judging. Japanese cars used to be designed by committee. The result is something no one likes or can predict.

This magazine basically rates grocery store wines with a few boutique wines (read: wines you'll never find) thrown in for glitz.

So, I can only give the Wine Spectator a 2/20. Not very good for a major wine rater. Maybe wine bloggers aren't all bad. They certainly fill in a void for Northwest wines. The ratings for Northwest wines in the February issue was pretty sad, considering there are over 600 wineries in the state.

The Grumpy Winemaker won't be submitting any more wines to this rag.

Note to self: don't renew subscription.

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