Some Wine Reviews
[Click here to jump direct to the reviewed-types list.]
Go fetch to me a pint o'wine . . . .
—"My Bonnie Mary", Robert Burns
General Thoughts About These Reviews
What We Are Trying to Do
As we say elsewhere, our chief expertise, such as it may be, lies in discovering and extracting information from the huge but higgledy-piggledy pile of it that is the internet. Obviously, we have opinions of our own, but we have chosen to carefully separate them to here, away from our main compilations about wine types. We assert no special qualifications or reasons you should credit our reports above any others; but we do present those reports for whatever use you may find them to be.
In these reports, we do not restrict ourselves to either the list of types or the price restrictions of the main body of this site. What comes our way, we drink and review. If we bought the wine at retail, we will say so; if it was sent to us for review, we will say that, too. And so a word about review-sample bottles: if you are someone who wants to send us samples, please email us for delivery information; we prefer two bottles of any given wine for review, owing to bottle variation and the possibility of spoilage. Please understand that we make no promises as to speed of review, though we will do our best to be timely. And of course we cannot and do not promise glowing reviews.
We have excoriated wine rating systems that depend on elaborate or supposedly exact "scores", and we do not use such scores in our own reports. What we are trying to do is convey what our feelings about a given wine were as we leisurely consumed a bottle of it. And that is another thing: while it may well be that trained expert tasters can catch the essence of a wine in a brief mouthful or two (then spat out), we feel strongly that unless one has gone through an entire bottle at the least (and two is better), it is presumptuous to try to discuss that wine's assets and deficits. And "discuss" is what we try to do: articulate the experience of consuming that wine.
We try in these reviews to briefly convey our experience of leisurely consumption of a bottle of the subject wine. As noted, we don't use numerical scales, and we also try not to use arcane or specialist terms, or to say that the aroma reminds us of moss from the west side of a fir tree or a sheep's hooves or any of the impossible nonsenses all too common in wine reviews.
If you want to sample what we mean by "impossible nosenses", you really must try this one out.
It is famously difficult to convey sense experiences to others, and especially so when we get away from sights and sounds, the experiences for which we have the widest vocabularies. The sorts of bizarre descriptors mocked above are not, or not all, pretension: they are attempts to articulate the ineffable. Often, with wines, the best approach is to try to compare it to some other reasonably well-known type, noting how and by how much it differs.
All that said, there are certain terms that are inescapable, and it helps if you have some definite idea of what each means. Here are links to some useful online discussions (since we see no point in trying to re-invent the wheel):
Bottle Variation: an Important Consideration
Something else anyone reading these reviews should understand—and not just about our reviews but also your own tasting experiences—is that what is called "bottle variation" is real and a substantial issue. Two bottles from adjacent slots in the same case, even consumed close in time, can be (and often are) very different drinking experiences, and so in a sense neither really "represents" the wine. Those differences can arise from anything from the handling of the wine as it is bottled to shipping and storage differences to exact temperature and ambient conditions at serving, and even to what one had to eat at the last meal (much less with what foods one might be drinking the wines). All one can ever do is note that a bottle of this type came across as thus-and-so. The more bottles of a wine one has, the closer one can come to a description that fits the wine rather than the particular bottle, but that is not always feasible. And all that is without even considering vintage variations from year to year. So take our, your own, and any reviewers' opinions with that warning: with the finest of abilities and the best of intentions, it is easy to mis-characterize a wine based on only one or two bottles of it.
An Index of Reviews
For the purposes of this site, we are starting afresh, and not relying on any past notes. So for a while, the list is going to be very short. We will index below by wine type; each type link will take you to a page itemizing all reviews of wines of that type, each review having its own page.
We invite you to take a look at our Wine Bookshop. It is an extensive list of wine-related books (which you can buy direct from The Book Depository), with several that we think important highlighted and discussed.
(The Bookshop will open in a separate browser tab or window.)