Friday, August 31, 2018

A Sommelier Dream | A 1945 Vintage Horizontal

I first wrote this post 2 years ago, on July 3rd, 2016, shortly after the dinner where I opened, tasted, prepared, decanted, and tasted again (to make sure...), then served this horizontal of 1945 vintage. I wrote it in French at the time to trigger the interest of my fellow French-speaking wine lovers, while normally I write in English (not necessarily uncommon for a French-American guy like me, read the article in French here)

Yet, in front of the success of this post in French, I decided to re-visit and re-write it in English as my blog's audience, outside of France, basically encompasses the rest of the world (lots of readers in the US and across Europe and even Russia, and Asia too since I moved to Hong Kong). Basically, a very eclectic range of readers from all horizons, who, therefore, might better understand the English version of it (even if the translation is enabled on my blog).

A huge "Thank you" to all of you for your continued support and comments, much appreciated.

So without further delay, here it is, in English this time...

A Sommelier Dream | A 1945 Vintage Horizontal

1945 Vintage Horizontal | © LeDomduVin 2016 

For a Sommelier like me, opening such beautiful and rare bottles is a passion and a privilege. Spending some time with these ladies of a certain age is humbling and fills me with joy and happiness and pride. These historical bottles, legendary should I say, are rare gems you need to know how to pamper, preserve, admire and love.

2018 marks my 27th year working daily with high-end wines (and spirits) from all around the world and officially marks my 21st year as a certified Sommelier working in positions of head of purchasing and wine buyer in most places I worked for. And 21 years out of France.

I first worked for 6 years in Relais & Chateaux, top restaurants, trendy bars, and private catering, in various towns in France, including Bordeaux, Orleans, Bourges, Strasbourg and even a brief experience in Paris (1991-1997). 

Then I crossed the Channel and moved to London (UK), where I worked for 5 years in top restaurants, private Club, and private Casino, and also met my American girlfriend (1997-2002). 

Pushed by the desire to see new horizons and to concretize an old kid's dream, as well as following my girlfriend who was relocating to Manhattan, I crossed the Atlantic ocean this time and moved to New York, where I worked for 9 years as Wine Director, Wine Buyer and Store Manager for 2 prominent wine boutique stores (2002-2011). During that time I managed to get married to that same American girl I started dating in London a few years back and followed to NYC. 

After 9 years in the Big Apple, and although I loved New York and was really sad to leave, the taste for new adventures and opportunities caught me again. We (my wife and our 2 kids) decided to see the other side of the planet and moved to Hong Kong, where we are still currently living and working (2011 to present).

LeDomduVin around the world - Map courtesy of Google Map

During all these years, I had the chance to work for very rich people with very good taste and more especially a lot of money in the bank to be able to buy the best wines in the world, including some legendary bottles going back to the early 1800s. 

These rare and old gems were memories of the past, bought for investment or to be consumed or to be put aside to wait until perfectly aged and mature in order to fully capture all their complexities. They required to rest in ideal conditions, and they needed a seasoned and skilled Sommelier like me to provide all the care and attention these old ladies needed. And in 27 years, God only knows the number of these "vestiges" I had the pleasure and the privilege to open, taste, prepare, decant and serve.

As I never (or obviously "very rarely", should I say) opened such rare and expensive bottles for my personal consumption, having the chance to taste and prepare them was already a great treat and an opportunity to increase my knowledge as well as strengthen my skills and refined my palate.

Yet, in my 27 years career, I must admit that I never opened so many great, old and rare bottles prior working as the Wine Quality Control Director and personal Sommelier of the Chairman for the company I currently work for. The Chairman has one of the greatest collection of high end old and rare Bordeaux and Burgundy wines I have ever seen in my entire life.

And these bottles and I never get separated, I'm always there for them (😉). 

During the day, aside of the administrative part and other things I do (like Market Analysis, Stock Valuation, Wine Inspection and Authentication, writing the SOP-Standard Operating Procedures, etc...), an important part of my job is to take care of these bottles in the various cellars of the company's restaurants as well as the warehouses where we store them. Basically, I'm responsible for the stock and everything regarding the cellars and warehouses'  
  • Conditions (Temperature and Humidity level, Ventilation, Airflow, etc..), 
  • Environments (make sure the cellars and warehouses are clean and clear of anything that could damage the wines, like humidity problems generating mold or bad smell, etc...) 
  • Security (CCTV monitoring, fingerprints access doors, magnetic or electronic door locks, etc...) 
  • IN/OUT movements, inventory, stocktaking, etc...
  • Inspection of goods receiving and goods leaving the warehouse

These allow me to constantly be with these bottles, provide them with cares if needed and monitor their evolution and ageing. 

At night, I put on my black Sommelier outfit © LeDomduVin 2018

At night, like a Wine Justiciary, I put on my black Sommelier outfit when the Chairman requests my presence for the service and once again to open, taste, prepare, decant and serve these rare gems for his dinners. 

Although it happens that I serve wines for the Chairman as a Sommelier in one of the company's restaurants (Le Pan, Dynasty Garden or even Matsunichi), funnily enough, the Chairman usually requires my services to open, taste, prepare, decant and serve his wines (and food sometimes) at his private dinners (with both business partners and/or friends) either

  • when he invites very important Chinese and Hongkongese guests, as he knows I do not speak and barely understand Cantonese and even less Mandarin, so he is sure that I will not repeat a thing of what has been said around the table (😊). 
  • or, when he invites friends and/or very important foreigner guests (French, English, Europeans, Americans, Australians, etc..), as it is important for him to show them his "savoir-vivre" and "service quality" provided by a classically trained French-American Sommelier born in Bordeaux (moreover grandson of a winemaker from Bordeaux) as a Maitre D' and Sommelier to do the service for the night.

On June 21st, 2016, during one of these private dinners where I had (once again) to put on my Sommelier outfit for my boss, I had the chance to open, taste, prepare, decant and serve wines from 1957, 61, 62, 70, 82 and 89 ... it was truly memorable .... (read the post about this dinner here)...

However, despite how "Grand" these wines were on the 21st, they were definitely at a lower level compared to the wines I opened, tasted, prepared, decanted and served at another one of my boss' private dinners a few days later, on June 26th, 2016.

This particular dinner of June 26th was one of these singular magical experiences that only happens so rarely, if ever... It was a wine dinner that all Sommeliers would dream of doing at least once in their lives ...

I must admit that for the past 6 years working for the Chairman, I have only opened extraordinary wines, like an anthology of classic, rare and old Bordeaux and Burgundy wines... And clearly, I must be one of the luckiest Sommeliers in the world to take care of and have access to such historic bottles...

However, that dinner of June 26th, 2016, it was even more special than usual... It was Mythical...
I opened a horizontal of 4 of the top Bordeaux wines from the 1945 vintage ... and although I opened many 1945 vintage wines in my career, it was mostly 1 bottle at the time... this time was quite exceptional as in front of me stood 4 bottles of 1945... a horizontal line up of highly sought-after legendary wines as I rarely had the chance to see or had the opportunity to prepare and serve ever before side by side... It was amazing

The dinner took place in a private apartment overlooking Hong Kong ...   I let you enjoy the view.

Hong Kong view from mid-levels | © LeDomduVin 2016

So, here I was, in a high-standing apartment overlooking the skyscrapers of the ever crowded and busy city of Hong Kong, and about to open and serve 7 extraordinary bottles including 4 mythical wines in the 1945 vintage and one (not less mythical) in the vintage 1966.

  • Domaine de La Romanée Conti Montrachet 2004, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy 
  • Domaine de La Romanée Conti Romanée Conti 1966, Côte de Nuits, Burgundy 
  • Haut Brion 1945, Pauillac, Bordeaux 
  • Petrus 1945, Pomerol, Bordeaux 
  • Mouton Rothschild 1945, Pauillac, Bordeaux 
  • Latour 1945, Pauillac, Bordeaux 
  • Egon Muller-Scharzhof Scharzhofberber Auslese GK 2003, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany 

I could not keep my eyes away from these bottles, like mesmerized and fascinated at the same time. It was like a mirage in the desert, when you've got the impression of seeing something that in fact is not there... except that these bottles, these old ladies as I like to call them, were real and right in front of me. They were eye-candy for the child in me and precious darlings for the wine lover that I'm. I had to be smooth.

I slowly lifted their capsules... then gently and methodically inserted my Durand in their cork until I heard a faint, lascivious sigh, barely perceptible each time the blade of my Durand deepened inside... accompanied by a relief of pleasure to each of the cork that I removed by gentle and experienced back and forth ... they did not wait very long ... the desire being stronger than to restrain themselves ... they gave themselves up to the last drop ... at the end... my hand on their shoulders ... I stroked their curves ... intoxicated one last time by the volute of their perfumes ... while caressing their labels ... tonight my story with these ladies was troubled and troubling ... (with some sediments)... We went astray in our antics... Time had stopped... It was a night to remember... A Sommelier night...

"Woman in bottle" by © LeDomduVin 2018
A metaphor that came to my mind to illustrate the bottle opening paragraph I wrote above

WOW, that was a nice metaphorical way to describe the opening of these glamorous bottles... Are you still with me? As personally, for a moment, just the time to read the above paragraph, I was lost in my thoughts and far away, deep in my imagination, reading these "metaphors" I just wrote on my desktop... if you know what I mean... Did it happen to you too when you read those lines? 

Actually, my thoughts turned into that drawing, that I did on the spot while writing these rather intimate lines, and titled it "Woman in Bottle" to illustrate the metaphors of the paragraph above, as I think that reading this metaphorically written paragraph made me see and materialize Women in those bottles... (I'm sure you did too...)

Sometimes it is good to let your imagination take over... (😉)

Difficult to translate word for word, so here is the original French version I wrote 2 years ago and which I also find very expressive and metaphorical. 

"Et bien voilà... je l'avoue... j'ai encore passé une grande partie de la soirée avec de très grandes dames d'un certain âge... quel régal... mûres, distinguées, charmeuses, discrètes, exubérantes ou excentriques... ces vierges ne demandaient qu'à s'ouvrir après tant d'années de solitude... je leur soulevais la capsule... insérais délicatement et méthodiquement mon Durand jusqu'à entendre un léger soupir lascif à peine audible à chaque traversée... accompagné d'un soulagement à chacun des bouchons que je retirais tout en douceur par de légers à-coups et va-et-vient expérimentés ... elles ne se sont pas faites attendre très longtemps... le désir étant plus fort que de se restreindre... elles se livrèrent jusqu'à la dernière goutte... sur la fin.. ma main sur leurs épaules... je caressais leurs flancs... m'enivrais une dernière fois des volutes de leurs parfums... tout en leur caressant l'étiquette... ce soir mon histoire avec ses dames fut troublée et troublante... (avec quelques sédiments)... nous nous sommes égarés dans nos ébats... le temps s'était arrêté... It was a night to remember... A Sommelier night...." - © LeDomduVin 2016

Look at them, aren't they beautiful? What a line up!!!

The 7 bottles of the dinner | © LeDomduVin 2016 

Well, I must confess... I spent much of the evening with these classy ladies of a certain age ... and what a treat!!! ... mature, distinguished, charming, discreet, exuberant or eccentric ... these old and rare "virgins" only wanted some tenderness, love, and care... and to be opened after so many years of loneliness... So, I oblige them... What else could I do facing such an irresistible situation?... And let me tell you, it was an absolute blissful moment.... to say the least...

As mentioned above, the wines present at that dinner were not limited to the four 1945 horizontal, the other 3 wines were also prestigious and showed really well. 

Here they are in the order of service.  

DRC Montrachet 2004 | © LeDomduVin 2016

DRC Montrachet 2004

Young, too young maybe, yet generous, balanced, and structured, with high acidity, and notes of yellow fruits, apple, and citrus, lightly toasted, buttery, with mineral nuances on the nose and in the mouth. A coated palate, silky, round, long and rich on the finish ... sweet and tender. Superb!

(DN-LDDV | 26.06.2016 | Average Retail Price 7,390 USD | 58,000 HKD | 6,300 Euros)

DRC Romanee Conti 1966 | © LeDomduVin 2016

DRC Romanée Conti 1966

Wow !!! What a surprise. I was tasting this wine for the first time in my life. It was incredibly fresh and young, with a lot of cherries and other red berries freshly crushed aromas and flavors, really beautiful acidity, still a very nice balance, textured and structured finish, still quite complex and dynamic, beautiful freshness. An elegant wine, complex and full of charm. Thrilling.  

(DN-LDDV | 26.06.2016 | Average Retail Price 15,670 USD | 123,500 HKD | 13,450 Euros) 

Haut-Brion 1945 | © LeDomduVin 2016

Haut-Brion 1945

I thought that served right after the DRC RC, the contrast would be too big, but I was wrong. This Haut Brion 45 was a delicious wine on the cool and bright side, really fresh and lively. The nose had the same characteristics for which it is known: the earth, the smokey and gamey flavors mingling with nuances of undergrowth, spicy wood, figs, and mushrooms. The nose was so enticing that I could have stayed a very long time smelling and discerning all of its nuances (bad habit between me and Haut Brion). Surprisingly, the palate was still lively, full of red cherries and berries, as always with this peculiar yet attractive smoky touch mingled with earthy notes, again. What an incredible wine! Undoubtedly, the acidity is the secret key behind its young attitude. The finish is quite long and seductive. I loved it, even if a little light (but there is no harm here, as Haut Brion is my favorite wine). 

(DN-LDDV | 26.06.2016 | Average Retail Price 4,520 USD |  35,500 HKD | 3,875 Euros)

Petrus 1945 | © LeDomduVin 2016

Petrus 1945

Although I have tasted some really inconsistent bottles and tasted a lot of bottle variations and seen really well-crafted imitations of this illustrious wine in my career, Petrus remains one of my favorite wines and a unique experience each time I open a bottle. Moreover and fortunately for me, Petrus is also one of the most common wines found at my boss' dinners, so I get to open some quite frequently.

However, this bottle of Petrus 1945 was amazing ... rich, detailed, complete and complex, harmonious, textured, structured, balanced and developing in complexity over time during the dinner on the nose and on the palate ... What a fantastic wine, rich and lengthy. Still full of promises for a few more years to come. Both the nose and the palate were incredibly appealing and sexy. Surely the best of the selection of tonight's dinner.

(DN-LDDV | 26.06.2016 | Average Retail Price 11,650 USD |  91,460 HKD | 9,990 Euros)

Mouton Rothschild 1945 | © LeDomduVin 2016

Mouton Rothschild 1945

I've opened and tasted this wine in this particular vintage countless times in my career, and I've always been a big fan, despite a few bottle variations from time to time, maybe due to provenance and previous storage conditions. However, being served after the Petrus did not do it any favors as it was a little less complex and powerful than the king of the right bank, and therefore seemed overshadowed by Petrus. Nevertheless, it was also memorable. A pure expression of its Médocain roots and terroir, showing some "traits" of its age with aromas of spices, wood, undergrowth, mushrooms and game well marked on the nose and on the palate. Yet, it was not at its peak and was still full of life. Amazingly pleasing.

(DN-LDDV | 26.06.2016 | Average Retail Price 15,250 USD | 122,000 HKD | 13,100 Euros)

Latour 1945 | © LeDomduVin 2016

Latour 1945

I was expecting so much better from Latour 45 ... and was a little disappointed ... The level in the bottle was a bit low ... at low to bottom shoulder. The cork was not showing well, completely soaked, friable, fragile and crumbling when pressing the blades of the Durand. Those are usually signs that the wine may have suffered previously, maybe due to bad storage conditions prior we bought it. The cork was also covered with an earthy substance that turned out to be residues of wine sediments, that had infiltrated between the glass of the neck and the sides of the cork, here again probably due to previous bad storage condition in my opinion. On the nose, it seemed to me that the wine had reached its peak and suffered from a slight oxidation. Very dull and cloudy color due to a lot of thick sediments at the bottom of the bottle, which looked like mud. 

However, and despite the bad cork and the heavy sedimentation, the wine had not disappeared completely, meaning it wasn't gone. It even managed to surprise us after nearly 3 hours of opening. Finally, it opened out later. It was on the weak side but somehow still fighting to provide an interesting taste, yet still far from the quality we were expecting. But I do not want to blame the wine for it, as I still believe that this particular bottle had suffered. In fact, it had nothing to do with other bottles of Latour 1945 I previously opened and tasted on other occasions. Latour wines are solid wines that age very well; unfortunately, we are never safe from a bad bottle that has not aged properly or that has not been able to evolve correctly due to unsatisfactory storage conditions. Too bad. More especially as I know that this wine is normally still very good. 

(DN-LDDV | 26.06.2016 | Average Retail Price 4,700 USD | 36,900 HKD | 4,000 Euros)

Egon Muller-Scharzhof Scharzhofberber Auslese GK 2003 | © LeDomduVin 2016

Egon Muller-Schwarzhof Schwarzhofberber Auslese GK 2003

This wine was incredibly good ... sweet but not too sweet for an Auslese ... and balanced by incredible acidity, a creamy wine, racy and very fresh, it coats the entire palace in its path, very mineral, it is a rich, complex and sexy wine (once again), nicely exhibiting fruit and sweetness. 
So good, that if you are standing it will definitely make you fall back on your seat. I loved it. 
A bomb at this price ..... (compared to the other wines of the dinner of course).

(DN-LDDV | 26.06.2016 | Average Retail Price 291 USD |  2,290 HKD | 250 Euros)

What a night and what a dinner and what an incredible line up of illustrious wines.

And look at those corks...

The corks of the night | © LeDomduVin 2016

My favorite wines of the dinner (red only as I loved the two whites), starting from the best (in my true and honest opinion)...  also considering that they all had specific and unique features that make them wines of exception in any case...

1. Petrus 1945

2. DRC Romanée Conti 1966

3. Haut-Brion 1945

4. Mouton Rothschild 1945

5. Latour 1945

Another night, another dinner... and once again, it was a Sommelier's dream come true, especially for a seasoned Sommelier like me ...It was a rare and unforgettable opportunity to serve these wines side by side that almost never arises due to the lack of availability or extremely low quantities of these wines on the market ... a rare opportunity that may not represent itself anymore ….

Superb and unforgettable wines...   A Sommelier dream....

LeDomduVin Portrait with the bottles | © LeDomduVin 2016

I already can hear some of you  talking about money and prices, trying to figure out for how much was on the table? Well, it's easy. I wrote the Wine-Searcher Average Market Prices (as of today August 31st 2018) in HKD, USD and EUROS for all of these wines just below each tasting note for you to have a rough idea of each bottle price.

However, if we calculate the total amount based on these prices, we need to add the numbers as follow (in HKD for example as there are more digits, so it looks more impressive 😊)

  • DRC Montrachet 2004                     = 58,000 HKD
  • DRC RC 1966                                  = 123,500 HKD 
  • Haut Brion 1945                               = 35,500 HKD
  • Petrus 1945                                       = 91,460 HKD
  • Mouton Rothschild 1945                  = 122,000 HKD
  • Latour 1945                                      = 36,900 HKD
  • Egon Muller Scharzhofberber 2003 = 2,290 HKD
  • Grand Total                                       = 469,650 HKD 
Or roughly a total of 51,400 EUROS and/or 59,830 USD (as of today August, 31st, 2018)

Impressive, isn't it?

That's all folks! for today, I hope you liked it, and if so, then stay tuned for more posts like this one with more stories, photos and illustrations.

Oh, by the way, did you like my drawing of "Woman in Bottle"? I bet you did... (😊)

Cheers! Santé!

LeDomduVin a.k.a. Dominique Noël

Sunday, August 26, 2018

What is a great wine? And don't let anyone or anything like wine critics scores, ratings, tasting notes, medals and quotes influence your own taste, decision, and judgment !!!

What is a great wine?

And don't let anyone or anything like wine critics scores, ratings, tasting notes, medals and quotes influence your own taste, decision, and judgment !!!

What is a great wine?

We can argue on the subject for hours, but first and foremost, a great wine is a wine YOU love.

A wine pleasing you by its aromas, aspect, robe, color, intensity, reflection into the glass, freshness, ripeness, depth, complexity, structure, texture, taste, aftertaste, and whatever else you can think of that is pleasing you in it. 

A wine so exciting and delicious to your palate that it makes you shiver, or pause, or reflect, or smile right after the first sip. A wine from which the first glass immediately calls for another one. A wine you will always remember for that blissful moment. A wine triggering only one reaction from you: "Wow! What a great wine!"

Wine tasting is so subjective and can be influenced by so many factors that you can only count on yourself to really define what a great wine is for you. You might be the only one in the room who loves it, yet who cares, as long as you are satisfied with it. And don't let anyone or anything influence your own taste and judgment!!!

Label design, wine critics scores, ratings, medals, quotes, tasting notes, wine descriptions are all fine to read and pay attention to and might to a certain extent help you to refine your decision, but do not let them dictate or take control of your mind and more especially your palate. As none of them should determine whether you will love the wine or not, more especially prior to tasting it.

NB: Note that I'm saying "love" and not "like", as wines you "like" can probably be counted by the thousands, while wines you "love" might only be reduced from a few hundred to less than a few dozens.

And don't let anyone or anything like wine critics scores, ratings, tasting notes, medals and quotes influence your own taste, decision, and judgment !!!

And, please, please do not define the quality of a wine by just reading the scores, or ratings or critics reviews and quotes either. Do not say: "..oh, look, this wine got a 100 points, it must be really good...", as you do not know. 

That's true, isn't it? You have no clue if this high-scoring wine will be good for you, for your palate, for your taste buds and overall personal taste, just by reading a few numbers and a few words specifically chosen and thrown in your face to impair your faculty to think straight and make a decision for yourself on your own judgment. 

Think about it. Unless you have already pre-defined that you have similar wine taste and tasting appreciation as a specific wine critic that you've followed with assiduity for years, and consequently established that you both have similar palates and that you generally like the same wines he/she likes (and gives good scores to), then you don't know. And to be able to know if that 100 points wine will suit your palate (or not), there is only one way: You have to taste it! There is no other way.

Nowadays, there are many ways to taste wines in order to be informed and aware and make your own judgment on critic's scored wines, while refining your palate at the same time.  
  • By visiting your "Caviste" (or boutique-wine store) to ask for opinions and comments, and if the caviste is a good caviste, (like I used to be and like I used to do during my New York years), he/she might open a bottle in the store for you to taste the wine and judge it for yourself. He/she knows that the bottle is not lost as other customers in the store are always looking for an opportunity to get a free taste of wine, and also knows that he/she might end up potentially selling more bottles of that specific wine that day this way...  (personally, when I was a boutique-wine store manager and wine buyer in NYC, I had no problem opening bottles in the store for some of my customers, which made for a more-than-welcome impromptu tasting session enjoyed by most of the other wine shoppers... it was fun). 
NB: Psst.... between you and me, arguing or using criticism about a producer or a specific wine are good tricks for a caviste, facing a skeptical like you, to open a bottle.. it usually work quite well (😊)
  • By subscribing to the newsletters of your local wine merchants and/or wine stores, to be informed of their up-and-coming tastings and other wine events  
  • By going to wine dinners, wine fare, as well as forums and expositions and any other events promoting wines. 
  • By being invited as often as possible by friends who have a substantial private wine cellar at home (😊)
  • By traveling and visiting wine regions and wineries 

Note that this list is non-exhaustive and other ways of tasting wines could be added.

And also note that I did not suggest to go to your local supermarket, as most supermarkets store their wines in far-from-ideal conditions (not to use the word "bad"). It is especially true when going to "over-the-top" supermarkets offering aisles after aisles of nondescript bottles of wine, taking dust while all standing up for months under damaging bright neon lights. Yes, these wines may have looked good on pictures on that supermarket wine flyer, pamphlet or brochure, with all of these flashy scores, ratings, quotes, stars, medals and god knows whatever else they tried to squeeze in on that picture to make you buy the wine, but the reality is often scary...     

Obviously, they just do it to draw your attention and influence your mind, your taste, your own judgment and your overall buying decision and experience. Deceiving you into buying wines based on scores, ratings, quotes, and medals rather than taste and intrinsic qualities. And the result is often annoying (as you feel that you've wasted your money) and disappointing (as even if you try to convince yourself that there is something good about it because this or that wine critic said it was good and scored it highly, you don't even like the wine after all).   

Marketing savvies have perfected many ways to lure you into their trap to make you buy wines that are not good taste-wise and/or not worth it money-wise, or even fake and/or counterfeit wines without you noticing it, who knows.... (my previous post is a perfect example of it, read it here). 

In fact, many of unaware and uninformed wine drinkers surely buy some of them with blinded eyes and without asking questions, sometimes, simply because the "mise-en-scene" is too good not to be true. 

Either the label looks completely genuine, or the scores, ratings, quotes, and/or descriptions on the flyer, pamphlet or brochure sound so attractive not to be true that one or the others ultimately catch your interest and you can't resist to the temptation of buying at least a bottle.

And those are the influencing factors I will talk about in today's post: why you should never decide that a wine is great (or could be great) based solely on
  • the look and overall design of a label, or
  • the wine critics scores and other rewards on a flyer, pamphlet or brochure, or on websites or in specialized wine buying guides, or
  • the wine critics' tasting notes and/or description of the wine (found in the same sources as above)  
You'll be surprised by how many people do that on a weekly basis. They check the scores, read the descriptions and buy the wines without further research or even tasting it, and, 7 out of 10 times, end up disappointed as the wine is not to their liking after all. Yet, still, the week after, they do it again... Sounds familiar?

So, let's start with an example of the look and overall design of a wine label. 

For the purpose of this post, I created the following fake wine label (and the wine flyer to promote it, see a little further down below on this post) and posted them on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn) prior to finish this post to see the reactions and comments they will trigger from the public eye. 

And surprisingly, a lot of people viewed and liked it, which is great. Yet, I'm sure that many of them fell into the trap and probably did not even realized that it was a fake wine label (more especially those who do not understand French or are not acquainted with French slang).  

Did you fall for it? Yes? No? Let's have a closer look at it.  

Chateau Picrate Label by © LeDomduVin 2018

At first glance, it "almost" looks like a genuine wine label (some of the more modern style wine labels on bottles I can see on the market look even faker than this one, if I may say...😊). Yet, looking at it closely, some of you will realize the obvious superchery. 

1. The wine name, "Chateau Picrate", is a joke, but you may have fallen for it as being a true Chateau name.. (or not). You may not know it, but "Picrate" is an old French slang word designating a low, generic and tasteless wine in French (thus it is normal if you fell for it as you have to be French or master the French slang to know that). (*) 

2. The producer's names, "Cedella Vinasse et Vincent Goût", the two fake protagonists of some of my wine stories, are made-up names for which you may have also fallen for (and there again it is normal for the same reasons as the wine name above), as these are French slang play-of-words. 
  • "Cedella Vinasse" is a French made-up play-of-words for "C'est de la vinasse", which could literally be translated in English by "This wine is crap" (*)
  • "Vincent Goût" is also a French made-up play-of-words for "Vin sans goût", which could literally be translated in English by "Wine without a taste" 

3. The appellation, "Appellation Ajeterdanslevier Recommandée" (AAR), is also a made-up word instead of the usual "Appellation d'Origine Controlée" (AOC) or nowadays "Appellation d'Origine Protegée" (AOP). 
  • "Ajeterdanslevier" is a French made-up play-of-words for "A jeter dans l'évier", which could literally be translated in English by "to throw in the sink"

4. The village name, "jenveuxplus" same thing, completely made-up play-of-words for "j'en veux plus", literally meaning in English "I don't want any more"

5. The zip code (or "Code Postal" in French) 33333 does not even exist in Gironde, France. 

6. "Bordeleau" instead of "Bordeaux" (that was obvious..)

7. And the logo or drawing in the middle?... Now that is an interesting looking design, which is related with the Appellation "Ajeterdanslevier" Recommandée...  Remember "l'évier"(in French) is a sink... Can you see what I'm getting at? Yes? No?  Look at it again... what does it remind you of? Any idea? Look again... you've got it? Yes, of course, it is a kitchen sink hole... get it? Clever, isn't it? 

And even as obvious all these details may have been (for a person speaking or having a good understanding of French or a French person), you may still have fallen for it and believed it was a genuine label, did you? 

So, now you see how easy it is to be deceived by a label when you have no clue it is fake, so never judge the quality of a wine by its label. I'm sure that from now on, you will have a closer look at labels at your local wine stores... (😊)

Let's take an example for the wine flyer now. 

As I said above, after creating the fake wine label and still for the purpose of this post, I created the wine flyer to promote it and also posted it on social media (FacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn) to , again, see the reactions and comments it will trigger from the public eye.  

Surprisingly, it was even more successful than the fake wine label, probably because I used English words this time (instead of French) to capture the attention of a wider audience. And it worked well, as even if I stated (on my post with these 2 illustrations posted on the social media) that it was a joke, at least one person made a comment saying: "Where is the joke?" (and if one person wrote it as a comment, either he did not get it or thought it was genuine at first, then you can be sure many others at least thought the same way too 😂😂😂)

Let's have a closer look at it and please tell me that you did not fell for it...
I mean, it is way too obvious, isn't it?..... 

Chateau Picrate Critic's ratings/scores by © LeDomduVin 2018

Pretty good and quite funny in my opinion, isn't it? I like it a lot and was even laughing at my own jokes while doing it (and afterward when revisiting it...) and if nobody did, then at least I'm glad I had a good laugh at it for my own pleasure (nothing better than self-satisfaction from time to time).    

At first glance, I'm sure that some of you, who are not attached to details and never read between the lines or read to hastily without paying close attention, probably thought it was a genuine wine flyer (badly hand-made... I admit... but genuine maybe...) and only looked at the scores and the 5 stars quotes... Am I right?   

Unfortunately, when it comes to buying wines they do not know, most people, in general, are way too often falling into the trap of marketing geniuses exhibiting enticing wine critics scores, ratings, quotes and medals on over-the-top wine retailer's websites and/or on supermarket's flyers, pamphlets, and brochures. They should learn how to pay more attention to details in order to save both money and time.  

However, let's dissect it, like we did for the fake label above, to discover the hidden gems of humor contained in this fake wine flyer (and to provide answers to those who might still wonder where are the jokes.. and did not get them 😊 ... I admit that it might be a little difficult if you don't know anything about wine or are not part of the wine industry or not a wine magazine reader). 

1. The scores and distorted names above them are all inspired and based on the scoring systems and  names of some of the most well-known and respected wine critics in the world (some of whom I know quite well, therefore my apologies in advance to all of you for ridiculing your fist and/or last names)

2. The "Triple Gold" Medal at Jakarta International Wine Challenge... I don't think there has ever been an International Wine Challenge at Jakarta... (but I thought it was a good idea 😊)

3. "The Daily Booze" instead of "The Daily News" (why not...)

4. "Carafe" instead of... (you surely guessed this one)... "Decanter" of course (pretty funny, no? )

5. "Red Prawn" instead of "Gambero Rosso" (the famous Italian food and wine magazine with its "Tre Bicchieri")... (this one may not have been obvious for everybody... but funny still in my opinion)

6. "Painin Guide" instead of "Peñín Guide" or "Guía Peñín" in Spanish (the famous guide to Spanish Wines)

If after revealing all these details, you are still falling for it, I'm not so sure what to do for you.... as you are a hopeless, desperate case... (😊)

Don't let yourself be influenced by the wine critic's scores or ratings

Wine critics scoring a wine by © LeDomduVin 2018 

Don't let yourself be influenced by the critic's scores or ratings as they can be "meaningfully meaningless" (as I like to say) and greatly vary in between wine critics. As said previously, get to know the various wine critics palates and scoring patterns, and only follow with assiduity the one (or the few) that have a similar palate and tasting appreciation as you, and score wines with scores similar to the ones you could have given to the wines yourself.

Over my 27 years career in the wine business, my palate and taste have changed and evolved as I was  (and still) getting older and to a certain extent wiser. And it is the same for the wine critics. Therefore you should always keep track of these changes, the wine critic ones as well as yours too, prior finalizing your decision, more especially if you haven't tasted the wine yourself previously and only base your decision on scores. 

If out of 10 wine critics scores for a wine (let's say between the range of 89 to 96), 6-7 are similar and the other ones are not far behind, then it means that fairly unanimously, most critics liked the wine and that there is a good chance for the wine to be good for your palate and even more chance for the wine to please a wide range of diverse palates. It might, or not, be to your liking, but it does not mean that it is bad either. It just means that your palate is different and the wine not suitable for your taste, even if it will please others.

In general, the more homogeneous the scores from various critics are the more mass appeal the wine will have due to its intrinsic quality and not only because a handful of the most famous critics give it a high or top scores. This is what happens to the top 250 best wines in the world. At this level, they are rarely "not good" and even less often "bad", they are just "not as good as" due to an off vintage, yet their scores usually still remain high. 

If, on the opposite, there are too many variations in between the wine critics scores, for example, respectively 89, 92 and 96 (like in the illustration above), then you will have to go with the wine critics you follow the most to be sure that the wine corresponds to your taste. But you may have a comprehensible hesitation and ask yourself why the wine critic you follow rate it lower or higher than the other critics. The tasting notes might give you a hint of why he/she scored it that way. But in the end, the choice is yours, and there again it does not necessarily mean that the wine is bad, just that it did not correspond to the taste and palate of this or that wine critic, that's it. In that case, you know what to do, find a way to try it and judge it for yourself.

On top of that, depending on the wine critic you follow, some being more consistent than others, scores can be quite tricky to understand and may not even reflect the tasting notes, supposedly written to give you an incentive on the reason why the wine received such a score.

I remember, once back in NYC a few weeks after attending the En Primeur 2003 vintage in Bordeaux, reading the tasting notes of a few wine critics, for the Chateaux of the Appellation Margaux for example, to compare them and define what I will buy for the store back then. I was startled and doubtful by what I was reading. They all looked nearly the same. It was absolutely bewildering. 

Imagine, you read 15 or 20 tasting notes from the same wine critic on the various wines from one appellation and in the same vintage. And you realize that not only all the tasting notes are approximately the same (despite some rare changes of a few words and sentence styles) and thus "astonishingly indistinguishable" from one another without looking at the names of the Chateaux, but, surprisingly enough and for some unexplained reasons their scores (or ratings) greatly varied. Go figure!

For example, it was like reading, about 2 different Chateaux from the same appellation and same vintage, something like:
  • Chateau Y 2003 Margaux
"Black fruit, good acidity, polished texture, good structure and balance, long persistent finish" 89pts

  • Chateau Z 2003 Margaux
"Black fruit, refreshing, smooth texture, combining structure and balance, long-lasting finish" 96pts

The blind tasting wine critic's paradox by ©LeDomduVin 2018 

Well... what?!? What really differentiates these two tasting notes? They are roughly the same and say the same thing for both wines... So, why are the scores so different? What makes the first one only worth an acceptable 89pts and the second one a staggering 96pts? How meaningful is that? I wonder... what is the word I'm looking for? Ah, yes... "meaningfully meaningless" that is... 😊 these tasting notes are in no way indicative of the superior quality of the second wine compared to the first. This kind of tasting notes are incredibly confusing and meaningless at best. 

If someone has the answer, please let me know, as I'm very interested to know why there is such a big difference in between these 2 scores while the descriptions are nearly identical.

These are just examples that I created for this post. But seriously it is not even exaggerated, as for the tasting notes I read from these few wine critics for the Bordeaux En Primeur 2003 back in the days, they were to that extreme, meaningless, as nearly literally identical but showing huge differences in scores. It was mind-boggling.        

Now, if we go back to the situation at the wine critics' table in the illustration above, the huge gap in between critics scores  (the lowest being 89pts and the highest being 96pts) proves once again that tasting is very subjective and that you should really know the taste and palate of the critic(s) you follow and the pattern he/she/they follow to rate the wines he/she/they have tasted (I'm repeating it as it is an extremely important point). 

Let's take again an example from the Bordeaux 2003 Vintage. 2003 was such a controversial vintage in Bordeaux as it was a very hot vintage, which scared and startled and took aback many producers (to say the least) as the heat wave was not planned, anticipated and/or expected to be that hot and that sudden. It was an unprecedented type of vintage, which produced some really weird wines, yet most wine critics first raved about it during the "En Primeur" campaign.  Let me explain.

Unprecedented hot vintage, yes, as neither the winemakers and their team of vignerons, neither the vines were prepared for such hot weather. As a result, facing an unprecedented situation, some  got scared and harvested too early to try to keep some acidity and prevent over-ripeness (surely fearing their grapes will cook and/or the rain might come at some point diluting the early ripening grapes). While others, probably over-confident, harvested much later trying to take advantage of the sun to have riper grapes and tannins, to obtain fuller and stronger wines. And some hesitated, they harvested part of their crop too early, then stopped and waited, then harvested the rest of their crop later (way too late for quite a few of them), and ended up blending both harvests together, spawning unbalanced wines with weird characteristics.

In fact, some of the resulting wines from the early harvest were totally unripe, acidic, astringent, green and tannic. While some of the later harvest were strongly overripe, or obviously cooked, showing everything upfront with no structure and no harmony and a finish unpleasantly high in alcohol. And the rest of the wines were a strange combination of both characteristics (early and later harvest blended together).

In my true and honest opinion, the resulting wines across the whole region of Bordeaux in general, for this hot 2003 vintage, to say the least, were frankly inhomogeneous and unbalanced.

In the position of Wine Buyer and Wine Director for one of the most successful wine and spirits retail stores in Manhattan (NYC) at the time (PJ Wine), I remember when we traveled to Bordeaux for the En Primeur 2003 and being there, in my home region, with our team, tasting hundreds of Chateaux, some 2 or 3 times as they were presented in various tastings and events.

After tasting so many wines every day for about 8 days straight (at the wineries, at wine tasting events, with the négociants, and even during wine dinners), my mind was set on buying as little as possible, as I was irrevocably skeptical about the quality altogether of this rather strange "millésime" (vintage in English), resulting in "Bordeaux 2003 En Primeur tasting" being one of the worst and less homogeneous vintages I have ever tasted (En Primeur) in my 27 years career as a Sommelier and Wine Buyer for restaurant and boutique wine stores.

My boss and some of the rest of the team, at the time, (like the press and most wine critics) were also quite ecstatic, raving about this 2003 vintage. They said it was great, fruity, strong, lot of structure, etc, etc.... Yet, I thought utterly differently.
  • Whenever they tasted concentration and ripe jammy fruit, I tasted over-ripeness and cooked fruit. 
  • Whenever they tasted some sort of freshness or crispiness, I tasted weird, sour and unpleasant acidity for some and total lack of acidity for others. 
  • Whenever they tasted solid grip of tannins that added texture and structure, I tasted unpleasant, unintegrated, astringent and green tannins contributing to the bitterness of the wine, or, on the other end, "overripe" tannins adding almost like a burnt sensation. 
  • Whenever they tasted concentration and strength, I tasted over-extraction and the high alcohol level. 
We were definitely not on the same page, as I really disliked the 2003 vintage. I urged my boss not to follow the critics (or follow them with extreme caution) and more especially not to buy too many cases of too many wines in that vintage, as they will surely be difficult to sell and time might prove they will not evolve well... But he did not listen and swallowed the words of the wine critics who released their scores right after the tasting week, surfing the wave of enthusiasm for this unprecedented hot vintage blinded by his lack of better judgment.

In fact, and time proved me right, rare were the Chateaux which succeeded in making a good wine in this particularly unprecedented hot 2003 vintage. Moreover, none of them improved with age in the bottle. Of course, there are some rare exceptions to that rule. Pontet Canet in Pauillac and Montrose and Calon Segur in Saint-Estephe come to mind (there were definitely 3 of my favorites when we tasted them at the Chateaux, and the critics raved about them as being the best of this particular vintage, for that I had to agree with them, for the rest no).

Pauillac and more especially Saint-Estephe on the left bank were mostly preserved due to their proximity with the Gironde estuary creating a micro-climate preserving the vines from the heat by colling down the air, and the presence of sand, and patches of clay in the soils, which tend to stay cooler and also retain water, an essential key factor to produce good wines during a hot year like 2003.

NB: note that I did not mention gravel, which is one of the main component of the Haut-Médoc soils, as gravels absorb the heat during the day to restitute it at night to the vines, which usually helps the ripeness of the grapes in regular years, but in very hot year it increases it too rapidly and does not help to cool down the vines, therefore no point to mention it.

The wines crafted from vineyards of the right bank planted on calcareous and clay soils also did well for the most part, as both if these soil's components retain humidity and release it, allowing the vines to cool down, get the water and nutrients they need, and be more resistant when facing strong heat like in 2003.

But overall, it is just the harvesting time decision and the quality of the grapes at harvest time that define the quality of the resulting wines for the 2003 vintage (and most wines were not good for all the reasons cited above, but more particularly due to wrong vineyard's management decisions and harvest timing).   
However, to my despair and despite my advice not to, my boss ended up buying loads of 2003 Bordeaux. At first, the "Bordeaux En Primeur 2003 vintage" sales were promising, as the wine critics notes and their incomprehensible enthusiasm for this peculiar vintage paid off. But then, about 6 months to a year later, while the wines were still in barrel, not even bottled and therefore not even shipped to us, some critics started to downgrade the wines and lower their scores.

My first intuition was right and my fear of having difficulty selling that vintage became a reality.

The wines were still in barrel, not even bottled, but clients were already calling to cancel their orders and get their money back. My boss was both upset and desperate, not sure of what he could do anymore to turn the situation around.

Moreover, after the vintage 2000 when Bordeaux wine prices started to go haywire, 2003 came at a high price too and speculation that was quite high right after the En Primeur 2003 tasting week came rapidly to a low point as revised scores started to appear.

2003 came at a high price, as 2001 and 2002 were just average to bad vintages (not great, not good, but just OK... mediocre if you want my opinion - yet, some wines from these two vintages surprisingly ended up being quite good with a bit of age in the bottle; that is what we call "Classique Bordeaux" in Bordeaux, as an excuse of being austere and mediocre in their youth, but somewhat better a few years down the road).

Then again, some lower their scores after tasting the 2003 wines again after bottling, 2 years later, realizing that they had been partially or completely wrong in the first place. Then, once again, lower their scores again a few years later as the wine did not even improve and, in some case, even got worst. That said, I cannot generalize, as not all critics downgraded the wines. Some critics (a few, but still...) slightly  elevated their score after bottling.... yet, it did not reassured our clients and did not help for the sale....

My boss had gambled on the success of this Bordeaux 2003 vintage, not on his own taste, but on critics scores, and the critics were changing their mind rapidly. At that time in the US, Bordeaux wines were products of huge speculations on both the regular and the grey markets. Lower ratings meant lower investment returns over time for most of our clients. About 3/4 of the stocks we bought went canceled or unsold, and he took us more than 2 years after receiving the stocks in our warehouse to liquidate them, most of them with a huge discount, just to get rid of them. It was a sad experience that had been driven by scores rather than taste and reason.

I'm sorry, once again and as usual, I'm slightly deviating from the subject to tell you my stories from the past. So, let's go back to the huge gap in between critics scores.

Let's take, for example, the scores of Chateau Palmer 2003, which was one of the Chateaux that made a decent yet not extraordinary wine in this peculiar vintage (yet much better than some for sure... and because I like Palmer for many reasons, one day I will tell you why.... in another post).

As unbelievable as it may seem, in the table below, the gap between the Wine Critic's scores received by Palmer 2003, varies from a low 87pts to an astonishing 96pts on 100 point scale, and from 15.5 to 18 on 20 points scale. As for the critic's overall view, 4 are between 85-89 and 5 between 90-94. Personally, my score will be somewhere between the middle and the lower camp. (looks like the same situation as my illustration above at the wine critic's table 😊)

In any case, as already stated earlier above, (and it makes even more sense when looking at the table below), the huge gap in between critics scores proves once again that tasting is very subjective and that you should really know the taste and palate of the critic(s) you follow and the pattern they follow to rate the wine they have tasted.

That is the reason why you cannot let yourself be influenced by the scores (or ratings) without knowing the palate, taste and rating pattern not only of the critic(s) you follow, but the others too.

Chateau Palmer 2003 Wine Critic's Scores © LeDomduVin 2018

I did a colorful graph as visual graphs usually speak louder than words. 😊

Chateau Palmer 2003 Wine Critic's Scores Graph by © LeDomduVin 2018

For the ratings on the 20 points scale, it is important to understand that they cannot be converted into the 100 points scale via mathematical % conversion (right column in table below - as some of you might logically think so and do so), as the results do not equal or match the corresponding 20 points rating scale used by the wine critics and wine press.

To better explain what I'm trying to say,  here is another table I created, which should help you understand (I hope it helps). 

Wine Critics 100pts scores vs 20pts scores scale by © LeDomduVin 2018

As you can see, wine critic's scores and descriptions can be biased and greatly vary due to various factors and therefore could influence you wrongly if you do not know or have at least an idea of the palate, taste and rating pattern of the critic(s) you want to follow. So unless you have similar palate and taste, do not let yourself be influenced by scores that are at both extremes of the scale's spectrum. 

If you are a kind of new to wine and want to know which wine critic to follow (that is if you think that you should follow critics to better buy your wines, then follow these steps:

1. Buy some wines from one region and one vintage (if possible) scored by at least 3-4 wine critics without reading their tasting notes (ask your local store and/or caviste and/or Sommelier to advise you on which ones you should taste if you do not know)

2. Taste, assess, evaluate and score the wines yourself with your own palate  and own rating system (if you can that is....) at home, at a restaurant, alone or with friends and/or family

3. Now, read the various critic's tasting notes and scores, and compare them to yours to determinate, which critic(s) is (are) the closest to your descriptions and scores (the ones you have given to these wines yourself).

4. Repeat the process with various wines from different countries, regions, appellations, and vintage in order to confirm which critic(s) you want to follow.

You will see, it will definitely ease the pain when buying wines that you don't know and never really got the chance to taste before.    

Don't let yourself be influenced by the critic's tasting notes,

Don't let yourself be influenced by the critic's tasting notes, and don't take them for granted either unless you have similar taste or palate. Learn about the palate and taste of the critics you follow to get better guidance on the wine you want to taste and buy (as said and repeated many times in this post...I will never say it enough...).

For example, it used to be a time when Robert Parker Jr. was King, and whatever he said went. For most people with a similar palate, he was right-on, and defined what was good or bad for decades. I have much respect for the man (that I have met a few times long ago) and his palate. I have also a lot of respect for what he has done for many regions and wines and producers all around the world over the last 4 decades, and more especially Bordeaux (where I'm from).

However, for people (like me) who are more inclined to lighter, fresher, more balanced, less extracted, less woody and less alcoholic wines, Robert Parker Jr. taste was probably too bold, too strong, too jammy, too woody, basically too much for their palate.

NB: Note that I said "was" and not "is" as, and although he and WA remain strong references in terms of scores and tasting notes, I believe he (and/or WA altogether) is not making the weather in the wine world anymore.. (for quite a few years now I believe, but you probably knew that already...).

As a Sommelier and Wine Buyer for restaurants and boutique wine stores, I had no other choice but to pay close attention to RP tasting notes, and more especially his ratings (in order to satisfy some of the clients I sold the wines to in both places).

Yet, I have always preferred and expressed more enthusiasm to read and follow the tasting notes from more classic and less "new world" critic's palates such as Michael Broadbent, Jancis Robinson, Hugh Johnson, Stephen Tanzer, Clive Coates and Allan Meadows and buyer/importer such as Kermit Lynch and Neal Rosenthal (just to name a few) for my personal cellar and consumption, but also for some of my clients.

Nowadays, I also follow newer critics like Neal Martin, Jeannie Cho Lee (with whom I've worked for a little while) and a few others, as their palate and taste seem to better correspond to mine (... it is not always true though), yet my taste has evolved and changed over the last 30 years, as well as the wines have changed. 

Yet, in the end, I usually prefer my tasting notes as they are more detailed and express more emotions and sensations towards the tasted wines (nothing wrong with unabashed self-promotion here, hey?... Read some examples on my last post here and let me know what you think).

On that note, I found that some critic's tasting notes are really "meaningfully meaningless" (these 2 words together again 😊... I love saying them...) to the point of being bad sometimes.

I remember reading the tasting notes of a famous critic (no name here, as with time I learned how to respect him somewhat, even if I still don't like his writing style) for the 2003 vintage Bordeaux En Primeur, and frankly, for Margaux (same example as above again and I want to insist on that), they all had similar tasting notes resumed in 2-3 short sentences maximum for each wine and were "astonishingly indistinguishable" from one another without looking at the names of the Chateaux.

And yet, some received scores way below 90 points, while others were well above 90 points, but by reading the tasting notes it was impossible to define or comprehend what was the reason behind the scores. Doesn't it sound ridiculous and confusing to you? It was meaningless to me, to say the least. (as said previously, but there again, it is important to repeat it as it happens more often than you think)

In my opinion, the problems with wine critic's tasting notes is that either

1. some are too short, too vague and/or not detailed enough to really describe the wine and reflect or justify the score, or

2. some are way too long with metaphors and made-up words supposed to trigger an image of something peculiar, often unknown to most common people.

It is true, I'm telling you. Some wine critics and other wannabes think that throwing around "meaningful" words such as "rocky mineral", "old saddle leather", "tingling salty tide", and so on, makes tasting notes sound more important, more imposing, more interesting... or something.

Of course, big words and metaphors can be fine when used correctly. They can even be built into a very good writing style, but I'm referring to tasting notes that use bad metaphors, rather odd terminology and so many supposedly "meaningful" words that it reduces them to be unintelligible in the context or even hard to imagine, and therefore become "meaningless".

For example, it is like if I was writing this as a tasting note:

Chateau Picrate Label by © LeDomduVin 2018

Chateau Picrate 2018 Appellation Ajeterdanslevier Recommandée 

"Exuberant nose of ripe Durian fruit with notes of mildew, underbrush forest floor, just unearthed mushrooms, long vacated birds nest, undertones of flooded tarmac, moldy saddle leather, buried Alpine Ibex horns, crushed pencil shavings in coriander, cloud of attic dust, over moisturized cigars box, waterfall's rocky minerals, wet pebble stones, and overtones of wet animal fur, old mope, mothball, sponged chalkboard, dried Uhu stick and just opened black indelible marker pen. A slipper of the vintage. Highly recommended"  62pts
- LeDomduVin 26/08/2018

OK, this is an extreme and slightly exaggerated example... yet, I have read similar laughable tasting notes and at that point, in my perplexed opinion, it's bad, over-killed and at best meaningless.

Unfortunately, some wine writing people just did not get it yet. And when this type of writing leaves the minds of melodramatic wine critics, wine bloggers, and other wine-writer wannabes and enters mainstream wine TV shows, wine press, wine guides and books on the subject, we all suffer from lack of understanding and for good reasons.

On that note, and now that I have wasted 2 hours of your precious time with a very lengthy post (once again.... 😊), I wish you the best, thanks for reading this post and stay tuned for more posts like this one (I mean shorter than this one I hope.....) 

Cheers! Santé!

LeDomduVin a.k.a. Dominique Noël

(*) Forget about the definitions of "Picrate" and "Vinasse" in English, as they have nothing to do with the English words, which both respectively correspond to something totally different.