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Is a Lafite worth the money?


#21

The saddest part is that they give ZERO extra information other than price and points … as if that were the only arbiter to get you interested …

but these are known products I guess … still, I doubt I am alone in (sub)consciously avoiding ‘popular’ wines with high scores to find something I consider proper, real, personal and of value to me - I hate the idea of being the mark


#22

I remember D’Arenburg Dead Arm getting the same score as Hill of Grace, which was more of a sensible comparison, one Shiraz against another. Any scoring system is nothing more than an opinion, albeit one would hope an educated one. Certainly in the case of high Robert Parker marked wine I am cautious of the style, they have the reputation (in the case of the reds) of over extraction, not that I normally have the money to be in the market for most of these wines.
There are “competition” wines and wines that you want a second and third glass of, and they aren’t always the same!


#23

Very entertaining comparison, @FranklyWines, thank you for posting. But if I may say so, it’s not quite as astounding as it appears. Because:

  • The Parker point system states very clearly that points are for wines in that category, so we shouldn’t be comparing the price-per-score ratio for a Bordeaux first growth against a Barossa Shiraz/Grenache - the scoring will always be relative to those categories, and not to wines in other categories; also, it’s worth noting that the influence of this system is such that this category principle is universally observed by critics using it (as far as I know)
  • Secondly, the other merchant is being visibly disingenuous by saying “Critic Score” - they’re almost certainly different critics; I’d be pretty confident that the Bordeaux rating is an American score - Parker, Suckling or the Wine Spectator, and that the Nine Popes is James Halliday, whose scores for good Aussie wines rather tiresomely top 95, 96, 97 points and so on, on a too-frequent basis, leaving practically no room for improvement (his descriptions are good, but his scores are too generous in my view)

So the result is the appearance of an astonishing discrepancy, in which one is either a bonkers bargain, or the other is stupidly expensive.

More interestingly, what the hell is a score of 92.58??!! Now that is bonkers!


#24

I agree with your points. I think the scores might be the average across a few critics, hence 92.58


#25

Yes, but still, you’d think they’d round it to the nearest whole number (93) - otherwise it gives the impression of being a very exact science. I’m glad the Society doesn’t go for this sort of nonsense.


#26

Aside from my general disdain of points-based wine reviews/marketing, (as someone who has never really allowed anyone to tell her what to like or not!), it was particularly eye-opening to hear that the scores above may be two or more different critics, especially if one of them is potentially known for always giving certain high marks to Aussie wines!

So even if you do try to take points into account, and even if you do know your wine pretty well, you have to know that crucial information about why the scores are so different, and who is known for marking what type of wine up or down… it seems like unless you’re a real expert you’ll easily be duped by these kinds of reviews. I’ll view them with even more disdain from now on…


#27

Quite right, @laura. Not only should you view them with scepticism, but remember also that merchants using scores to sell a wine, will (not unreasonably) cherry pick the most favourable scores.


#28

Most producers make a good wine in good vintages, great producers make a good wine in a poor or difficult vintage, I usually take heed of member/customer reviews rather than experts. Luckily The Wine Society has a great team of buyers to always chose the wines to stock in each of the vintages.


#29

Interesting comment from Janie Goode on Twitter:

‘Imagine, as an Australian wine critic, you gave a new release Grange 93 points, a quite good score, You’d be blacklisted in seconds’


#30

Someone has tasted the 2011 then? :grinning:


#31

Once shared a bottle of Lafite 1982 over a terrific lunch. Sad to recount that the wine moved me not one nanometre. An off bottle perchance, but such a massive disappointment. I tried the Mouton 1969 which was a truly awful vintage in 1977, hardly any fruit to be discerned BUT the quite extraordinary minerality was mind blowing. They are not called 1st growths without centuries of reason.


#32

Hi Laura, I do think that you have a point regarding wine and points.
When I first started buying decent wine from the UK wine merchant fraternity, it was Cissac, Chasse Spleen, Angludet etc. I was told that they would turn out to be pleasurable, I bought Cissac from maybe 4 1980’s vintages, not 84 or 87 and I derived not one jot of delight, far from it. But then I heard of Robert Parker and began my subscription in 1983. He told me what I needed to know, independently and with integrity. And so I took advice from Bob and my merchants. Now I was cooking with GAS!! I cannot tell the difference between a 96 and a 99 point wine, I do not care because wine varies and that’s a fact. I want to know if a wine is an 83 or a 90 point wine, there is a gulf of quality between them and I can taste that. More important are the accompanying notes, after a while you get into the head of the reviewer and his or her style of writing and taste. I understood Robert Parker very well, now he is gone it took me a while to get to know Neil Martin for Bordeaux and Jeb Dunnuck for Rhône. Jeb has now set up again by himself, and I’ve followed him, I enjoy his style and we think alike and trying to get to know the new Advocate guy just seems like hard work. Having said that, Marcel in one or two sentences can encapsulate a wines quality, and I think that we are very fortunate to have access to his services for free, so to speak.
So Laura, the points by themselves gives maybe 30% of the picture, the words complete it.
And I can back that up with my adored Roc de Cambes, never got more than 92 points BUT the words give the quality away. I think that my English teacher who is Welsh, as am I, would be proud of me. LoL Even though, I am sure she never saw the best of me.


#33

Hi Taffy, I had a bottle of 30 years old Cissac 1985 and it was surprisingly good (and not at all past it!) in 2015, more recent vintages are a much more modern style and (for the price level, its not Latour!) I think its a decent wine. With time and experience you can learn which wine commentators have similar tastes and interests to you. My wine buying only began in 2000, and things have moved rapidly on in the last 17 years!


#34

Interesting! I appreciate you’ve taken the time to get to grips with each commentator and that’s allowed you to make more informed decisions, so I’m sure it really does benefit some of the people who have the time and inclination to make that effort in the long run… it’s just I personally just don’t have the time or inclination (or confidence in my success) to put the work in and make sure I fully understand the points and their respective scorers.

Like you said, I prefer the words - and feel much more confident making my decisions using them, and maybe researching things like vintage reports etc. I totally accept the points system works for many experienced and well-informed wine lovers (like you, from the sounds of it!), I’m just not sure I trust wine marketing that places a wine’s value on its points and not much else.


#35

http://www.wineanorak.com/wineblog/uncategorized/score-inflation-is-everywhere-and-its-killing-wine-criticism

Tend to agree with Jamie Goode here on wine scoring.


#36

Laura,
I take absolutely no interest in marketers. As far as I am concerned their job starts and finishes as to whether the bottle in question is available or not.
I have never seen the writer of advertising blurb held to account for inaccurate description.
In the wine world it can be the worst of situations in that if you believe the disingenuous words of the unscrupulous vendor, it might be a decade or more before you discover if you have made a mistake or worse, duped.
I take absolute responsibility for my buying decisions. I subscribe to 3 tasters and that gives me an edge, but at a cost. What one can do is look at say Farr Vintners or Fine & Rare for tasting notes and scores, i is all free. They are not the only ones who do this, there are others. CellarTracker is another free source for members tasting notes & bottle variability.
The best thing is to read the historical output of our buyers be it Bordeaux, Burgundy or Rhône. Look at the list of previous offers. Get used to their different styles and nuances. The penny WILL drop eventually, and that’s a great day. For me it’s a puzzle but one worth getting in to.
When I started in wine, I devoured all wine related literature, wine lists and these days on line restaurant lists from really good or world famous restaurants. I persuaded my employer to sponsor me in the WSET program. Some of my colleagues were so green with envy it was amusing, possibly says something for my marketing skills!?! LoL


#37

@NickFoster and now you can also refer to him as @JamieG … sorry


#38

Cool! Didn’t make the connection.


#39

I read this a few days ago and couldn’t agree more… Big ego’s and all


#40

It is interesting to note, that when Monsuir Guigal produced the inaugural vintage of La Turque in 1985 he (Parker) awarded it 100/100. What totally gobsmacked me was, that the vines were around 6 years old, which is ludicrous. Up until then, I had been led to believe that it was impossible to produce very good wine from such young vines, let alone great wine. There again, history might award the epithet of “magician” to Marcel Guigal for his unbelievable output from La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque. I have consumed his CdR rouge since the early 1980’s, back then he was reputed to “dump” all his declassified wine into the CdR label. Some years you could virtually stand a teaspoon up in it, and if you kept it for say five years, it would have thrown a satisfyingly substantial deposit. No better sign of a good wine be it dark sludge or tartrate crystals.