Posts tagged ‘James Suckling’

March 2, 2022

Mazzei Ser Lapo Chianti Classico Riserva, 2018

95 points from James Suckling.  Seriously.  95 points.  I have no idea what that even means.  For what?  It’s not the best Chianti at BC Liquor let alone the best Chianti available in the province.  It’s a very good Chianti.  Period.  It’s like a 90 point red wine if in fact you must rate wine.

James Suckling: I call him the Peter “great movie” Travers of wine reviewers.  No shade on Travers, but if there was one aspect of his career that hovered above everything it was his name in print, on posters, on signage, in ads.  He gave more space to “Rolling Stone” than the actual Rolling Stones.  And Suckling seems much the same; he loves to see his name in print.  95 points will get your name in print.  But how meaningless.  And for the average drinker, the person who doesn’t rate wine, who may buy this bottle purely on the points and review, how misguided.  It educates the novice nothing.  It diminishes the value of professional reviews.  And it blatantly exploits the privilege accorded to tasters who don’t pay the exorbitant prices for vino.

Anyhoo…  Decent Chianti.  I would head over to the Nebbiolo we loved and Gismondi highly recommended and which was for a month on sale.  It may not be Sangiovese, but on the palate and the pocketbook it’s better wine, better value, higher satisfaction, no points decal.

Price: $33 at BC Liquor.  If you can see the price tag behind the 95 points signage.

Market Liquidity: Wine success, poinster fail.

September 14, 2021

Chateau Villegly Minervois, 2018 & Mitolo Jester Shiraz, 2018

Thud and plunk.  Epic fail of the pointsters.

Let’s start with the Robert Parker 90 pointer, the Oz red.  Heavy as lead.  What a walloping clunk of everyday red.  We were expecting a fruit forward, peppery Shiraz with a touch of black currant.  But it was less than full bodied, rather one-note, and really not complementary (to a not very spicy and lovely chicken chili). 

Then there’s this average, virtually generic red recommended by James Suckling.  If you poke around online you’ll see it was selected for Air France Business Class, but I guess the contract was cancelled due to the pandemic.  Maybe at 39,000 feet it would have the legs to stand up in the stratosphere.  But back here on earth it’s a tad inconsequential.

Let’s be fair: Both are drinkable, truthfully nothing much wrong with either, but there’s nothing much right either.  And both are hugely forgettable.  There is basic red a plenty in the BC government system, it’s unfortunate that the gold seals on a few bottles put a focus on something just not that much better than those without a gold seal.

There’s a spot-on random online review of the Minervois that finishes “…a lingering hint of pepper adds some interest to the fruit-fueled finish.”  Some interest.  Exactly.  Some.  That’s about as generous as I think you can be.  88 points tops.  Although not a direct comparison, we were sipping a young, robust Syrah from Clos de Soleil the same week, and it just delivered so much satisfaction.

There’s very much a “pop song hit” to both these wines, something of the moment, a catchy tune that fades into the backdrop. 

Price: Minervois around $20 (if not discounted on a bulk buy) at private stores, the Mitolo less than $25 in Ontario, over $30 in BC.

Market Liquidity: What were the lyrics to Blurred Lines?  Oh right, I’ve forgotten already.

Boldly Basic. Where Pointsters Fear to Tread

February 28, 2020

Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes, 2009

Chateau La Tour Blanche, Sauternes, 2009

From the cellar: No thesaurus has the language to describe this luscious dessert sipper: Stupendous.  Ludicrously good.  Layer upon layer upon layer of flavours.  Ethereal; the proverbial nectar from the gods.  Can you hear my lips smacking?

 

The palate is a veritable wine fractal: Peach.  Apple. Pear. Almond.  Some cedar shavings.  Tangerine.  That might be the half of it.  The depth is absolutely astounding.  Sweet, sweet, but not cloying.  How is that possible?

 

Guess what? The French state owns the vineyard.  If this wine is what it means to elect Bernie Sanders, bring it on.

 

[A pointster first and foremost: Wine Advocate 93.  Wine Enthusiast 95.  Tim Atkin 95.  And 96 from James “nothing under 90 points” Suckling.]

 

Price: Back when the Canadian dollar was actually worth something, we scored this in Seattle for just over $16 USD.  The 2015 is available in Vancouver for nearly $50 CDN.  That’s $100 a bottle.  That’s also astounding and ludicrous.

 

Market Liquidity: As intriguing and appealing as those beautifully pixelated Chuck Close masterpieces.

February 21, 2020

Errazuriz Aconagua Costa Syrah, 2016

Errazuriz Aconagua Costa Syrah, 2016

Oh James Suckling.  How mediocre does a wine have to be to score less than 93 points?  Crikey.

 

This perfectly palatable and in many ways lovely red is on the simple side; an authentic 93 point Shiraz is the Torbreck, reviewed here.  This subtle contender is just that, a contender. And not even a Brando On the Waterfront wannabe.

 

Yeast, light maraschino and tart berry, a crisp and inelegant finish, not long on the palate.  It’s certainly no dud but it’s bantam weight at best.  But, hey, like Lizzo says, let’s be body positive.

 

Price: All in at Firefly $35.

 

Market Liquidity: You will drink it, you will probably like it, and you will forget it.  Pffft.

December 20, 2019

Clarendelle Rouge, 2015

Clarendelle Rouge, 2015

Wow.  What a dud.  Thwunk, pocket’s $40 lighter.

 

When it comes to the elite reviewers, those who score bottle space, James Suckling is probably least to our palate.  He is fast and easy with points, often to deception.  I call him the Peter Travers of wine reviewers (meaning seeing his name on the bottle appears to weigh more heavily than constraint on the pointster front).

 

Let’s be clear: This is “inspired” by Haut-Brion.  It is not the real McCoy.  I would say the 3.5 stars over on Wine Searcher are just about right; it’s middling and approachable and satisfactory at about a C+ level in every way.  Pass.  Suckling waxed on about sandalwood and whatnot, but this is a smooth, easy sipper, generous on the palate, but nothing to write home about red.  It’s like a Merlot without a face.

 

Price: $39 at BC Liquor, recently reduced to $30.  Before taxes.

 

Market Liquidity: If cast on The Watchmen, I think Looking Glass; a reflection, masked.

August 7, 2019

Viña Cobos Felino Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016

Vina Cobos Felino Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016

First, the 92 points are from James Suckling.  Not sure why, but I’m never on the same page as Suckling (or, put another way, “who cares about the points?”).  So that wasn’t the draw.  But the price was a draw; $28 reduced to $24.  Yes and yes.  And in the end, a lovely purchase.  Medium for a Cab Sauv, it wasn’t even really majestic with red meat in that Ridge Caymus Jordan way, that left jab right hook in the style of the California heavyweights.  And at 13.5%, how wonderful to be so wonderful.  Dark fruits/fruitcake fruits, charcoal chocolate, and then some tannins to make you pucker.  A great sipper.

 

Price: $24 at Everything Wine.  (By the way, their Malbec reviewed here was a non-starter for us.)

 

Market Liquidity: Value, verbatim.

February 24, 2019

Fuiedo Maccari Grillo, 2016

Fuedo Maccari bottles some more than worthwhile reds.  Why not give the Grillo a go?  Crisp, light, sometimes sharp like grapefruit pith, our nominal experience with Grillo is it’s the arch enemy of Riesling.  But it’s a fine line between refreshingly appealing and innocuous.  This teeters towards the latter.

 

Like a whisper of breeze on a humid day, this wine has no staying power.  Not on the nose, not on the palate.  It’s simple, it’s one note, there is only a nuance of tropical fruit, and if there’s anything exceptional it’s how refreshing it could be eating fritto misto on a terrace in Sicily with a view of Malta in the distance where, truth be told, the wine doesn’t have to be very good to make the day especial.

 

James Suckling gave this a 90 and called it full body.  Wow, what planet was he on?  Full body? This couldn’t pass as a limbless bust in the ruins of Pompeii.

 

Price: $27 at Kitsilano Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Like the rat at the end of The Departed: not necessary.

November 17, 2018

Vino Cobos Felino Malbec, 2016

The worst Malbec is somewhere between chalk and unripe raspberry.  The best is like cherries jubilee, creamy and rich and assertive in its juiciness.  This is neither.

 

A slight but persistent bitterness overrides any enjoyment.  The predominant fruitiness is cough syrup.  The spicy white pepper finish is plainly unpleasant.

 

Moderately food friendly, forgettable as a sipper, but apparently a pointster star.  Go figure.

 

Price: A most appealing $21 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Sometimes, once is always enough.

November 4, 2018

Enebral Tinta de Toro, 2015

James Suckling described this as tasting of ivy and forest floor.  Say what?  There is pronounced vanilla, a smoothness that is as deceptive as black ice, giant tannins and gobs of plummy, jammy fruit.  We didn’t get the tightness Robert Parker alluded to but we do agree a dozen in the cellar will pay huge dividends.  At the price it’s a slam dunk and exceptional in more ways than it’s worth describing.  Buy now, buy lots; the holidays will be upon is in weeks.

 

Price: An astonishing $23 at Everything Wine

 

Market Liquidity: A case for the wedding.  Or just to drink on Tuesday nights.

November 3, 2018

Tinto Negro Limestone Block Malbec, 2015

The entry level TN Malbec will set you back $15.  It’s good patio value.  The Limestone Block will set you back double.  But it’s not twice as good.

 

With decanting and a little air this will soften up and beckon.  Previous vintages have scored highly with James Suckling and Robert Parker.  They like the balance, fruit and herbal notes.  We found it muted.  All those things they like are present, you just have to close your eyes and think hard.  It’s not an open book.

 

Price: $30 at Everything Wine.

 

Market Liquidity: Fleeting.  Think of a trumpet mute; it has an effect, but nothing worth a whole symphony.