All who have followed our growth as a company and wine producer know we have been treated very fairly by the press as a whole. Since our debut, we have scored numerous times in the 90 plus range by the most prominent of wine critics. Then why, when some might say we are on top of our game, would we stop sending our wines for review? Great question, but not so easy to answer given my mixed emotions about the subject!
I have a great respect for wine writers in general. There is a love/hate relationship that holds an uneasy truce and civility that seems akin to walking on egg shells. Most of these critics work very hard to cover all the wines in there designated area of expertise. Since the wine boom of the 1970's, there are just too many wine labels for one person to review. For example, Robert Parker has writers for Italy, France, etc. to help with the work load – all great writers themselves to be sure. James Laube stays within the confines of the U.S., mostly covering California, Washington and Oregon. Now, however, he also has some help. Allen Meadows, who's name to fame was Burgundy, is now moving into domestic Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Champagne. The truth is, I'm friendly with all of them and would like to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine from time to time. But that's very difficult given the arms length approach they institute for professional reasons...
Here's the second and equally as important reason – what I call the "one palate theory". Your pallet is your pallet, and no one can tell you what to like! The example I use most often is Brussel Sprouts. I can hear it now. Some are saying, "I love them!" Others, "They're awful!" By the way the ones saying they love them can be dwindled down to those that just love the butter and bacon bits there cooked in, but you get the point. We have different pallets and although a certain wine may not be awful, it may not sing to you and bring that moment in time that's surreal as it does your partner or your critic. So, how can a numbering system guide you? I will never stop buying the Advocate, because I like Mr. Parker's descriptions of the wines and although I may not always agree, it helps me see what others think. (As a side note, Mr. Parker never asked us to be mindless when reading his reviews, therein lies the use of the word "Guide" or "Advocate".)
The last reason is because there are so many wines to taste and even with the addition of more writers, there is pallet fatigue and what I call "atmospheric hindrance". What the heck is that?! Glad you asked. How many times have you chosen the right wine to bring to a great restaurant to share with new friends and the new friends turned out to be, well, not new friends after all! …Never to see them again and the great bottle did not live up to its billing. Why? Hold that question, how many times did you try a new restaurant only to get there and the food was a little disappointing or the atmosphere not what you would call inviting but stark, cold and uncomfortable? ...
The place in which you consume your consumable is as important as the consumable itself! I won't repeat that, I promise. But maybe I should say that the word "Terrior", the most holy of words when referring to place, especially in Burgundy, might be used in the context of drinking your great wines! For if your "Place" is not right then the wine will fall short of its mark. So how can a lineup of 30, 80, 200 wines in front of one person ever achieve the fair hearing one worked so hard to produce? At the most just minutes is spent with one wine, no food and on to the next. Yet that's the only way possible to get through them all.
I hope this explains our decision and forgive me for being long winded. There will be those who say I'm scared, our wines are too expensive, overpriced, blab blaa blaa! But those who know me laugh at such things and discount those comments to the pallet of perception. You may see ratings from time to time but that's because whoever did the rating bought the bottle as you may have, and for that, a sincere thank you. All comments are welcome and all e-mails will be returned personally.
Remember your pallet is what counts!
All the best,