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A wine spectator's dilemma

Friday, July 11, 2008

Like many wine lovers, I follow Wine Spectator and other major wine publications. While I enjoy their reviews, there are a couple of issues I have with them which led me to start this blog. I will address one of them here.

In its June 30th 2008 edition, Wine Spectator gave Amavi’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 a 92 point rating. This is a large accomplishment for a $25 wine. How large you ask? In the Wine Spectator database, there are five red wines that have received 93 points or higher at or below this price point. They are:

Leonetti Cabernet 1989, 96 pts, $25
Leonetti Merlot 1992, 96 pts,$25
Waterbrook Merlot 1989, 94 pts, $14
Leonetti Merlot 1989, 93 pts, $18
Woodward Canyon Cabernet 1988, 93 pts, $24

There are ten (TEN) red wines in the database that have received 92 points at or below this price point. They are:

Ch. Ste. Michelle Cabernet Cold Creek Vineyard 1996, 92 pts, $25
Columbia Crest Cabernet Estate Series 1996, 92 pts, $16
Delille D2 1993, 92 pts, $18
Kiona Cabernet 1999, 92 pts, $24
Leonetti Merlot 1991, 92 pts $22
Leonetti Merlot 1990 , 92 pts, $22
Oakwood Cabernet Reserve 1987, 92 pts, $20
Seven Hills Cabernet CV 1999, 92 pts, $22
Spring Valley Cab Franc 2003, 92 pts, $18
Waterbrook Cabernet 1994, 92 pts, $20

What do I make of these lists? First, there are very few red wines that have received this rating or higher at or below this price point. Second, almost all of those wineries are big players in the market in 2008. Third, no wine has received this rating or higher at this price point since Spring Valley Cab Franc 2003 four vintages ago. Fourth, which one on those lists is not like the other? Fifth, look at those Leonetti prices? You will be saying that a lot in the future about today's Washington wine prices. Stock up now.

Bottom line? It’s a big deal. So what’s your next thought? “I want to try this wine” right? However, on July 10th – ten days after the publication date, what do you find on the local shelves? The just-released Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. How can this be?

It’s because the Amavi Cabernet 2005 was released one year ago. Therefore, the Wine Spectator review is stale from the moment it's published. This is why the goal of this blog is to “provide ratings of currently available Washington wines”.

I will be posting a review of Amavi’s newly released Cabernet 2006 tomorrow. NB: I’m sure you can still find the 2005 in a place or two as well.

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