Our story so far:
The health of Robert Parker Jr. is failing. With a worn-out liver, gout that makes his feet resemble tree stumps, a prostate gland the size of a softball, and an exhausted palate, the Godfather of wine scores knows his end is near. He has gathered his wine-critic team to make a change to his wine scoring legacy.
Robert Parker: I don’t know how much time I have left. I’ve come to a decision and we need to talk.
Luis Gutiérrez: Boss, you are from a single vineyard, sourced from a plot
planted on a stony alluvial terrace, which suits your variety. You avoid green aromas and flavors in your reviews and lace them with spice, tobacco leaves and red fruit notes, but without too much overripeness or excess oak to try to cover the herbal tones. Every one of your years were great vintages, with moderate yields. Your thoughts were planted ungrafted and are organically and originally farmed. Those thoughts were harvested quite early and fermented with native yeasts. Your contributions could not fit into a 5,000-liter oak foudre. When people hear the name Robert Parker they think Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, even Carmenere, all the noble grapes. They think that “I need to try this one”. They think this because of your perceptions of the wine. They respect the complete ripeness of your varietal, the lack of vegetal aromas and they most appreciate the high alcohol. You are a subtle, austere, serious in a (good) Bordeaux way (think Lafleur) with hints of tobacco leaves and spices. You achieve superb balance in the palate, and you feel very young, with ultra-refined chalky tannins and good freshness. This is the style I like, what your readers like, but it’s very hard to get, and it’s possibly unique.
Robert Parker: Jesus Luis, give it a rest. You promised me to stay off the blow. Be quiet a moment. I will rest and then I will tell you why I asked you to come here today.
[Parker closes his eyes and breathes deeply. The others look on in concern.]
Robert Parker: Just like everyone knows Al Gore invented the internet, everyone knows that I invented the 100 point scale. Robinson uses a 20 point scale and that snotty Rosso uses a four glass scale. NO ONE understands a score of 17.5 points and “two glasses” who the hell knows what that means? Now a score of 96 points that is something that has meaning. That little-shit Galloni copies my 100 point scale but he learned it working for me. No one does the 100 points like me. I’m the best at the 100 points. The best.
[The group look at one another and nods in agreement.]
Robert Parker: Since I invented the 100 point scale I can make changes to it and, to ensure that I have a legacy, we must make changes.
Jeb Dunnuck: We are all ears. What changes are necessary?
Robert Parker: We scored too many wines at 100 points. We have awarded hundreds, maybe thousands of 100 point scores in the last few years alone. How do our readers distinguish between two wines that have both received 100 points? Jeb, you are the worst offender…you hand out 100 point scores like they are a candy bar treat on Halloween.
Jeb Dunnuck: That’s the last straw. I can’t take the abuse any longer. I’m young, I’m pretty, I have a nice smile and really really nice hair. Goddammit I quit! I’ll take my talents and my 100 point scores and write my own blog. There’s big money in writing wine blogs.
[Dunnuck storms out of the room.]
Robert Parker: [Not missing a beat] From now on we will score a wine at 100 points, a 100+ points, and a 100++ points. We can also use 100++- for those wines that don’t quite make it to the level of 100++.
Neil Martin: Isn’t that a four-point scale? What’s the difference between our new scale and Rosso’s scale?
Robert Parker: Jesus Christ Neil! Are you dense? I told you already that no one understands fucking glasses. They like 100++ point wines, not 3 fucking glasses.
Neil Martin: That’s it! I too quit. Galloni wants me…Galloni here I come.
[Martin storms out of the room.]
Robert Parker: Monica, you understand, don’t you?
Monica Larner: Yes darling. Now rest and know that your legacy will be safe with me.
In related news, today James Suckling awarded the 2016 Château Très Difficile 110 points. In his review, Mr. Suckling stated “if an athlete can give 110 percent then I can award a wine 110 points.”
If you are not a wine geek then you probably didn’t find this post’s story to be funny. If you are a wine geek then you probably didn’t find this post’s story to be funny.
Observations on the wines we tasted from the 12 May 2018 release that are currently available at our beloved wine monopoly the KGBO (a.k.a., the LCBO).
The $17 Cathedral Cellar Chardonnay 2015—VINTAGES#: 328559 represents great value. This is a well constructed and delicious Chardonnay that will find a place at your table or on your patio. It has some complexity, tropical fruit and nut flavors, the right amount of wood, and decent acidity. A great value wine even though it sells for the equivalent of $9CAD in South Africa and $12CAD in Russia. Yes, our government policies result in us paying nearly 50% more than the happy folks living in Russia. Back in the U.S.S.R., you don’t know how lucky you are. Sigh.
The $20 Château Le Grand Verdus Réserve 2015 Merlot Blend—VINTAGES#: 388330 drank nicely straight out of the bottle. A nice Merlot blend wine with fruit, tannins, and oak in good balance. A decent value wine at a price point comparable to the amount paid by Europeans. This wine likely will age for those interested in cellaring the wine.
The smokey $25 Abbona Papà Celso Dogliani 2015 Dolcetto—VINTAGES#: 193730 is perfect for BBQ season. A well constructed enjoyable wine that has weight and character. You can believe the posted tasting notes on this one. I typically avoid wines made from the Dolcetto grape but this one’s a keeper. This wine is priced fairly at the KGBO as it retails for the equivalent amount of money in Europe.
The good-quality-value red wine that we tasted in this release is the $15 Monasterio de las Viñas Reserva Garnacha/Tempranillo/Cariñena 2012 Grenache Blend—VINTAGES#: 166579. It has an element of freshness, so serve this versatile wine slightly chilled. This is a candidate for your house red wine.
If you lived in Spain you could buy this wine for the equivalent of $8CAD. Close your eyes and imagine a world where you could buy this wine for $8, along with some bread, ham, and cheese and find a sunny bench to have a picnic. Alsa, that activity would be illegal in the People’s Republic of Ontario. The good folks in Alberta can buy this wine for $12. Not a resident of Alberta? Why don’t you try shipping a case to where you live? Oh, yeah, according to the Supreme Court of Canada that an illegal activity too. Damn it.
Wines for wine geeks
We served the $44 Château des Jacques La Roche Moulin-à-Vent 2014 Gamay—VINTAGES#: 535823 blind (that is, the tasters did not know the identity of the contents of their glass). We wrongly concluded that we were enjoying a decent quality Burgundy. That’s a happy observation as here’s an enjoyable, ageable, quality wine at a fraction of the cost that you would pay for the equivalent quality from (say) the Cote de Beaune. [Picture not available.]
The $57 Terroir Al Límit Vi De Poble De Torroja Del Priorat 2015 Grenache Blend—VINTAGES#: 93450 has all of the sophistication of quality Bordeaux. Yes, I am aware that I am comparing a Grenache blend to a Bordeaux blend. Wine geeks will love this experience. It’s shocking that James Suckling, the king of the high scores, awarded this wine 94 points only. Surely it is a wine worthy of 105 points, at least, maybe 105+.
Wines to consider
The $20 Parxet Brut Reserva Cava 2014 Sparkling—VINTAGES#: 516021 is a serviceable basic sparkling wine. The bubbles are pleasant, the flavors and aromas are pretty simple, and the acidity provides freshness. The tasting notes overstate this wine and the price is slightly more than it should be for what you get.
I struggled to categorize the $16 Château Godard Bellevue 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc—VINTAGES#: 426049. On day 2 (that is after the bottle was open for a day) the wine was showing a lot of enjoyable aged Bordeaux characteristics. When we first opened the wine, it struck me as shallow but with exposure to air the wine takes on appropriate weight and depth.
Here’s your chance to spend $16, decant the wine for several hours, and see if you like aged Bordeaux. I’m guessing that the LCBO made a massive purchase of the Bordeaux wines in this release as the retail price here is about what this wine costs in France.
Wines to avoid
The $18 Allimant-Laugner Sylvaner 2015—VINTAGES#: 538413 comes across as being pretty simple. The posted tasting notes make frequent use of the word “subtle” and that is what this wine is. It’s very drinkable but too delicate to impress and it’s kind of boring. For $18 it’s not worth the money.
To me the $17 Papagiannakos Vieilles Vignes Savatiano 2016—VINTAGES#: 546002 comes across as a confused mess. The tasting notes describe the wine in a kindly manner. To us, the end product was disjointed and not enjoyable. The local wine critics have a different opinion.
The $24 Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Langhe Freisa 2014—VINTAGES#: 388660 lacks character and depth. Borgogno is one of the noble names of Piedmont and a couple of years ago was bought out by a large conglomerate. I fear their wine style is now very commercial. Again, our view of this wine is offside of the opinions of the local wine critics.
Our unenjoyable wine experience was duplicated with the $20 Laxas Albariño 2015—VINTAGES#: 21477. We found the floral nose of this wine to be overwhelming and the citrus fruit flavors to be overpowering. Again, the local wine critics enjoyed this wine but our group will be returning the bottle for a refund.
The screw cap and the quality reduction has me worried about wines from D’Arenberg, one of my favorite Australian producers. The tasting notes of the $30 D’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie Shiraz/Viognier 2012 Shiraz Blend—VINTAGES#: 936971 assert that the wine is impressive and has special value. We could not agree less and feel that this wine is not worth the asking price. I’ll let you guess how some of the local wine critics rate this wine.