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28 August 2006

Only 87 Pts

Suppose you're leafing through a back issue of the Wine Enthusiast and come upon this review:

"Score: 87 Points
Produced from biodynamically grown grapes, this wine certainly has pure fruit. It also has fine tannins, a subtle mix of red fruit flavors, and juicy acidity. Tannins dominate the finish."

I don't know about you, but I stopped reading after 87 points.  How many people would get up out of a their comfy chair to track down an 87-point wine?  Not I.

Here's what I would do:

I leaf through a small French bistro's wine list and notice a reasonably priced bottle of red wine from France's Minervois appellation - demarcated as a distinct wine region only since 1985.  What the hell?  For 30 bucks, I'll try a new wine & add another notch to my corkscrew handle.

I order Chateau La Croix Martelle 'La Reserve de Sirus' 2001

Sniff & Sip #1: Pleasant scents of blackcurrant, cedar and leather.  Fairly basic flavors and structure.

Sniff & Sip #2: There seems to be a slight meaty aroma and the wine's silky smooth tannins appear to be striding towards my tongue's main stage.

With filet mignon & mashed potatoes in a brandy-white peppercorn gravy: Dine-O-Mite.  The wine makes this one of those long, slow, exceedingly enjoyable dinners in which all the flavors compliment one another perfectly.  In other words, while this wine was simply an '87-point' tasting experience when sampled alone, it became a key ingredient to a memorable meal once enlivened by food.

The moral of the story: Numbers on a hundred-point scale and a few vaguely descriptive sentences don't do most wines justice.  Occasionally, in order to create fond culinary memories, an adventurous spirit comes in handy.  This week, try a wine from a region unknown to you.  You might just get lucky.

Sirus The Skinny
Chateau La Croix Martelle 'La Reserve de Sirus' 2001(~ $16 - retail)

  • Imported by Boisset; 13% alcohol; 40% Cinsault, 35% Syrah, 23% Grenache, 12% Mourvedre
  • Deep, black cherry in color with a dusty-red rim
  • The wine initially offers scents of blackcurrant, cedar and leather.  After 20-30 minutes of air time, Sirus introduces aromas of meat, black pepper and a touch of funk (compliments of brett)
  • The wine is rich and smoothly textured.  Without food, Sirus seems restrained.  Once a steak or roasted game is introduced, Sirus shines.  It accentuates succulent flavor and extends the foods' 'palate time' in the mouth.
  • Verdict: Highly Recommended

All that; and only 87 points.

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Kevin Erskine

Hear, Hear.
A while back I called for an elimination of the point system in the world of whisky.

The 100 point system, the 10 point system - whatever the rating system is, they are all subjective measures masquerading as objectivity.

I want want to get to know a reviewer - I want them to tell me what they thought in terms I can understand, AND if I've agreed with that reviewer in the past, I might pick it up.


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