Monday, May 4, 2015
Rating Bordeaux 2014: My Methodology
Before the unveiling of my anxiously anticipated scores for 2014 Bordeaux (many of which fall between 90 and 98 points, and have pretty much been randomly assigned), I thought it might be appropriate to outline my methodology. The real question is, which comes first, the methodology or the outline? I never even realized I had a methodology until I began the outline. I find that my methodology is a hindrance at primeurs week in Bordeaux, and that, for a methodology, it’s pretty much improvised anyway. For example, I taste all the wines blind, except the ones that I’m not able to. I’d tell you which are which, but, frankly, you’d misinterpret that information because you’re simply unqualified.
It's important to understand how we major wine critics review and rate wines, especially from an important region like Bordeaux. In this brief essay, now appearing in full over at Tim Atkin's legendary site, I discuss my methodology. As one of the world's leading wine critics, I endorse transparency, especially in silk panties. Which chafe, by the way, and I think I'll remove them.
As always, please make my British publisher happy and leave your always witty comments on his site, or, if you don't have a six-year-old handy to show you how, feel free to leave them here, as is your custom.
TIM ATKIN MW
I have had this perverse thought lately that Rosé’s popularity might be mirroring the once popular Beaujolais Nouveau’s. Walk into many small wine shops these days and you’ll see a large display of Rosés. Dozens of Rosés, of all shades of pink. It looks like some sort of display of lipstick shades, or a dermatologist’s guide to sunburnt white people. And those displays are going up earlier and earlier in the year; the pressure on producers to bottle and sell their new vintage of Rosé as quickly as possible is nuts, but tangible. Consumers’ taste for Rosé seems unquenchable. There was a time Beaujolais Nouveau was that drink.
It wasn’t that many years ago, let’s say about 25, you could walk into a wine shop and see a couple of dozen Beaujolais Nouveau for sale. All of them damned insipid and uninspired. And somehow people had become convinced that Nouveau was the perfect Thanksgiving wine. Where did that come from? It’s a terrible match for Thanksgiving dinner, like every other wine. Beaujolais Nouveau is not a food wine. Hell, it’s not a wine wine.
When I was first a sommelier and the Beaujolais Nouveau release in November came around, I had to order 30 or 40 cases to pour by the glass, and then usually have to reorder. By Christmas, no one cared, but in that month or so, we’d sell a lot. Then the Beaujolais Nouveau craze just died. By the time I was nearing the end of my career, I wasn’t ordering any at all. And no one asked for it either. Demand just dried up. In the words of the great Clara Peller, “Where’s DuBoeuf?”
Rosé, of course, has a long tradition, and is far better wine than Beaujolais Nouveau. But I wonder if the current fad for Rosé isn’t a lot like the old days of Nouveau. Only a few years ago, you’d have been hard pressed to find more than a few California Rosés, now there are hundreds. I don’t make it a habit of tasting that many domestic Rosés. I don’t have to. I don’t envy those of you who do (you have my love and condolences, Samantha). Too many are outright terrible, a ringing memory of so much Beaujolais Nouveau. Rosé is in its heyday right now, up front in large floor stacks, pink and ready. I wonder if that will be true ten years from now.