Are Young Wines ‘Assessed’ Fairly? Depends Upon The Producer, Perhaps?

young wine


I enjoy reading a number of different blogs and one that caught my eye was Steve Heimoff’s commentary on the World of Pinot Noir tasting which took place last weekend at the beautiful Bacara Resort in Goleta, just north of Santa Barbara.

He went to a Burgundy vertical tasting of a specific producer’s wines, and he commented that all of them were great, but that only the oldest one was ‘drinkable’ now. Upon further questioning, he felt the younger wines were simply showing too much acid or tannin and simply weren’t balanced – but he did not see this as a fault, but instead, a sign that these wines will continue to age.

This brings up the big question – what if he were tasting a wine from a ‘lesser known’ or ‘unknown’ producer that had these same traits (ie was ‘backwards’ and needed more time to truly strut its stuff). Would he be as ‘kind’ and ‘understanding’ and give it the same benefit of the doubt?

And I’m not trying to single Mr. Heimoff out, as I do appreciate his take on many things wine-related. I believe that most reviewers, without the benefit of a ‘track record’, may indeed not be as kind to a ‘backwards’ wine these days as they may have been, say, two decades ago.

Producers are releasing their wines earlier and earlier to try to recoup their monetary outlays and to try to make room for future vintages. In order to do this, though, many wines are being made in a much more ‘forward’ manner,  wines that are more approachable and drinkable at younger and younger ages.

So what to make of producers who are making wines with plenty of ‘rough edges’, wines that are meant to lay down for a while. Do you still search these out, even if reviewers would ‘pan’ them for not being ‘drinkable’ now?

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this.



3 comments on “Are Young Wines ‘Assessed’ Fairly? Depends Upon The Producer, Perhaps?

  1. It’s an age-old conflict of whether young wines should be tasted blind or tasted knowing the producer. If a reviewer knows a winery produces age-worthy wines, he will review it one way. If he never heard of that producer or tastes it blind, who knows what he will say if it’s not immediately accessible. I suppose there are some expert reviewers who would know how a particular wine will age, but even there, they may be afraid of getting it wrong.

  2. Those are certainly very valid points and ones that need to be taken into consideration. We know that some producers routinely do taste blind, or at least that is what is stated in their publications, but others certainly do not. And one does not taste blind, it can work either way – they may give the winery the ‘benefit of the doubt’ or they may not.

    The same is true with consumers, of course. Some people just don’t like tannic wines, and so these wines, no matter how well made, may be looked up as ‘too tannic’ or ‘too backwards’ or ‘just bad’, depending upon their vocabularies.

    I really dig your last line – about being afraid of ‘getting it wrong’. Most reviewers certainly don’t be the ‘odd man out’ for a potentially great wine, now, do they?!?!?!? It truly shouldn’t matter, because ‘their opinion’ is just that – a subjective opinion about a subjective product. So what if ‘they are wrong’ and they say that a wine will age and it doesn’t? Most folks have really short term memories, it appears, and no one will come after that reviewer down the line (most likely). Or if they say that a wine won’t age and it does – well, most consumers will have already consumed those wines by the time they re-read those reviews, anyways 🙂


  3. Robert Parker is still bragging about how he got the 1982 Bordeaux vintage right. But I don’t think reviewers are particularly concerned with what the public thinks of their reviews. They are probably more concerned with what the wineries will think and what other reviewers will think.

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