Now that it's November, it must be time for a September post...hey, reading ALL those reviews is tedious.
For the first time my reading made me feel like offering compliments instead of complaints. After a momentary, "Nah, this is the internet. People bash one another from a distance and with much more vigor and vitriol than deserved," I decided to do it.
Bruce Sanderson, reviewer for Wine Spectator gets kudos for using the following in reviews, "Not for the faint of heart." "Impressive...if a bit over the top." And, "It's hard to deny this red's appeal and instant gratification, though I don't get any sense of place."
Bravo! Those are phrases that actually mean something to me and tell me about the wine. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Why is it so rare that reviews offer regular sentences that actually explain the wine?
Because we end up with verbose, bizarre descriptions like the white winner for the month from J.M. Chateau de la Guimoniere Chaume 2005: "This exotic white is starting to show burnished, mature flavors of citronella and lanolin, with marzipan, date, creamed papaya, ginger and dried apricot notes. A twinge of green tea keeps this going through the finish." 93 points. Where do I even begin? The label picture tells us, if we look hard, the wine if made from chenin blanc and is moelleux, meaning mellow, or medium-sweet in wine terms. The wines are not as sweet as full botrytized dessert styles.
Leading with citronella and lanolin repels rather than attracts. The rest of his words makes such an unappealing concoction I can not imagine plunking down $36 for a bottle, and I like moeulleux chenin blancs.
A crowded red field meant a much tougher choice than the runaway victory above. However, all were J.M. entries, so he was guaranteed the September sweep. Ernie Els Stellenbosch Signature 2007: "Ripe and suave, with alluring blackberry, plum sauce and roasted fig notes laced with black tea, cocoa powder, maduro tobacco and smoked apple wood notes. The long, grippy finish smolders nicely, with dense, dark fruit and lovely mouthfeel." 93 points.
At least I think I know where he's going here. I can picture most everything, but it seems like a lot of smoky notes. Roasted fig, tobacco, smoked wood and smoldering finish signals a heavy toast in the barrels and makes me wonder about wildfires in the area. Great reviews should either make the wine sound good or offer a warning about a significant feature that appealed to the reviewer but may have a limited audience beyond that. Neither of those things happens here.
More issues with September's issues in a day or two...