Empathy exists within me for those charged with reviewing large numbers of bottles within a very specific theme. Similarities make a difficult job even more challenging. However, that does not let them off the hook for the bizarre snippets some of them create.
The Wine Spectator arrives at my door now and lets me keep up with the most recognized wine publication. Note the word 'best' does not appear in that sentence. They do a passable job and sometimes even manage to educate and entertain.
A new feature here will be a monthly finger-wagging at a few particularly egregious reviews. This month they all come from the Spectator. Oh, and this month is June...July will follow shortly and maybe August will actually appear in August.
Honorable mention goes to a review of Kumeu River Chardonnay, one of the best versions coming out of New Zealand. The reviewer scores the wine 92 and gushes but manages to use "tobacco details" in the description. I have never found tobacco in white wine and don't think it would be welcome. I have also never found anything vaguely like that in nearly a decade of tasting and drinking that wine.
The winner for a white reviews is: Roger & Didier Raimbault Sancerre Vielles Vignes 2008, written by J.M. "This white shows lovely precision, with a beautiful aroma of creme fraiche backed by racy, pure flint, chive, straw and gooseberry notes." Creme fraiche, despite it's recent South Park appearance, makes sense and I can see finding and enjoying that in a wine. Same with flint, maybe with chive but the straw loses me. My recent references for straw revolve around Jazz Fest when it is placed around various muddy areas. Inevitably some barnyard stink comes with it and that wet, soggy smell is not a selling point. Previous to that, my time on a farm brought similar aromas to mind. I'm not even going to touch the ubiquitous overuse of gooseberry that almost no one has experienced.
Red Wine: Domaine du Galet des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape Tradition 2008, by J.M. (A sweep!) "Perfumy, with warm cherry confiture, black tea and fruitcake notes laced with a hint of shiso leaf..." With you on the beginning but who the hell knows what a fruitcake tastes like anymore? And shiso leaf? WTF? I don't even know what it is, much less it's flavor/aroma. [Note: Japanese for perilla] [Next note: perilla belongs to the mint family.] [Postscript to next note: also known as purple mint or Japanese Basil]. The last one helps the most. Shiso leaf? Really? Was that the herb of the day and you promised to work it into something?