Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wine Spectator's Slips and Skips

The September 30, 2011 issue deserves more than my rant about punditry. Two sets of reviews end up reading like a skipping record and one group contains various misspellings of a single grape name.
A variety grown by different producers in the same region should exhibit similar profiles. Tasters also can become focused on one flavor throughout a tasting noticing its presence perhaps more than they should. I have fallen into this trap. When the wines begin to taste the same, take a break. Walk away, eat something, break the cycle. Barring that, perhaps better editing might suffice.
J.M. and A.N. must have had a groove going when they reviewed Chilean syrah and blends and Soave, respectively. J.M. used the word anise in four of nine reviews and pastis in a fifth. A.N. just misses 100%. In a review of Soave wine the word almond appears in seven of the nine reviews and one of the two without it mentions marzipan (almond based). Other words exist, other nuts too. I'm aching to try the wines blind to see if I can pick the one with no almond notes.
I need to stop picking on the Spectator but as a publication that claims 2.5 million readers they dominate the marketplace and are the face of wine writing to many consumers. The magazine does not claim to be experts or perfectionists but I find their facts to be solid and their presentations professional.
When focusing on a region people do not know well and a grape they know even less, one might hope they could at least spell the grape correctly.
My gripe does not focus on the way it appears on the label. In the Spectator, producers' names get printed in red with wine name in bold, black type following. Any errors, or creative license, taken there belong to the producer, label designer and the agency approving it. The spellings that irked me are in the body of the review.
Granted, the country is Greece and the grape is assyrtiko. Further, Even the Oxford Companion to Wine lists assyrtiko or assyrtico. However, if a leading publication decides to write reviews about this grape, it seems realistic to ask for one spelling from one reviewer.
Instead, we get "Asirtiko, Assyrtiko, Assyrtico and Assytrico." The wine world uses assyrtiko as the accepted version. Google corrected each different spelling of mine to this version as well. My complaint here is minor, but worth noting because of the status of the magazine and the potential confusion for readers.

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