In a perfect world, two 90 point wines would definitely be equally good. They wouldn’t taste the same, but each would be as good as the other. But guess what? It isn’t a perfect world. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there it is. So why isn’t each 90 point wine equally good?
90 Point Wines Are Rated By People, Not Machines
If I can cut to the chase right up front, it is because people rate wines, not machines or computers. Ratings are opinions. Gary Grape’s opinion can differ from Willie Wine’s opinion. Even on the same wine. So how can their opinions on different wines be consistent? This is what I was getting at in a recent post on wine ratings. Only one rating really matters. Yours. Here is some information on two 90 point rated wines.
Comparing Two 90 Point Wines
Tormaresca 2009 Neprica. This is an interesting red wine (and a good value) from Italy. It is from the Puglia region. A reasonable approximation of how to pronounce this is POOL-ya. Not Poog-lee-a. If Italy is a boot, Puglia is sort of the heel and the Achilles tendon area. Most of the better known Italian wines are from farther up the peninsula, but in the U. S. we are seeing more and more wine from Southern Italy and Sicily. The Tormaresca 2009 was a 90 point wine by Wine Enthusiast and was named a Best Buy. The name Neprica comes from the three grapes the wine is made from. Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We have all heard of Cabernet, and Primitivo is said to be either the actual Zinfandel grape or a close relative. The wine is made in a juicy style with red berry flavors initially, and underlying flavors of dark fruit and spices. Great stuff with anything from Italian cheeses to burgers, pizza, or pasta with marinara. While I personally don’t think it is a 90 point wine, it is a strong 87, and in most retail stores it will be 10 – 11 bucks. In Florida, I found it in a big box store for about $8.00. Definitely good wine cheap. This wine is big enough to benefit from at least 30-45 minutes in a decanter before you drink it.
The second 90 point wine is the Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon. As I have mentioned before on these pages, Columbia Crest is one of my favorite wineries. Their wines come from Washington State, and they make oceans of wine. Given the amount of wine they make, the overall quality is outstanding. This particular Cabernet is from the Horse Heaven Hills area (hence the H3) of the Columbia Valley. The wine consistently gets 90 point ratings. The 2009 vintage was rated 90 by Wine Spectator. H3 is the third level up in the winery’s hierarchy. The base wines are designated Two Vines, the next tier is Grand Estates, and then comes H3. Each level is well-regarded by people who rate wines. The 2009 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon is a fairly dark wine, medium to medium heavy in body with a silky texture. Flavors are of dark fruits, with hints of chocolate and oak. Good depth, and more complex than the Tormaresco. Wonderful stuff, in my opinion. Speaking of my opinion, I’d go a point or two higher than 90 with this wine. Even more amazing than the wine itself, they made 69,000 cases of just this wine. A great many wineries don’t reach 69,000 cases total production. Standard retail will usually be about $14 to $15. In the same Florida big box store, it is about $11.50. Again, an excellent value – more good wine cheap. Don’t forget to decant this one too.
Here we have two 90 point wines. Different grapes from different areas, so they certainly won’t taste the same. But both rated 90 points, and in my opinion, one is clearly better than the other. Is that odd? No, it is not odd. There could have been a bottle that wasn’t quite right. It happens. Also, the 90 point ratings came from 2 different sources – Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator. And it is only my opinion that one wine is better than the other. Finding good wine is easy; finding good wine cheap takes more effort (and less money). If you pay attention to ratings, find one source whose ratings you most often agree with, and use that as your guide. Look for each of these wines and see what you think. Whether it is a 90 point wine or not, your own palate is what matters most.