Mistakes and Mea Culpas

I’m sure this won’t be a popular topic with some of my fellow wine critics, but I have a secret to tell you.

We’re not infallible. We’re human, just like everyone else. When power-tasting through 100 wines in a morning, getting them all “right” would be like scoring 1600 on the SAT. Naturally, we make mistakes. 

Well, at least I do.

And when I do, it’s important that readers know that I’ve owned it, and tried to set things right.

Normally, these sorts of things are brought to my attention by producers, who read a review they don’t like and reach out for clarification and, sometimes, to request that I retry the wine. On other occasions, I might be called to task by readers who think I’ve overrated a wine that they tried and didn’t care for.

Fortunately, neither one happens all that often. And when it does, I’ll often try to obtain a second bottle of the wine in question and taste it again. Here are two examples from my recent tastings in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

2015 Gabriel Meffre Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Hints of nail polish remover on the nose are a warning sign, and this medium to full-bodied wine is sour tasting as well. The tannins are supple, but Meffre’s 2015 Chateauneuf-du-Pape is just not very good. — 75

My notes suggest a problem with volatile acidity or related compounds in that sample. Here’s my note from another bottle provided by the producer:

Lifted notes of red raspberries are attractive enough, but this wine does have a distinctly tart-sour edge to its red-fruit flavors. It’s medium to full-bodied, with ripe tannins, but the acids are a bit disjointed on the taut yet chocolaty finish. — 85

As you can see, I’m still not convinced it’s a great wine, but I don’t think it’s as mediocre as I originally thought. A side note: It was originally recorded as just Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but it should have been the Chateauneuf-du-Pape Saint Theodoric.

2015 Chateau de la Font du Loup Chateauneuf-du-Pape Le Puy Rolland
I found odd scents of bad peanuts in my sample of the 2015 Chateauneuf-du-Pape le Puy Rolland, accompanied by elevated acids and a sharp finish. I’m not sure what went wrong here, but it’s clear that something was awry. — 73?

Well, I don’t think I really made a mistake on this as it was clear the bottle was somehow messed up, but the proprietor sent me new samples so I could set the record straight. Here’s how this one shaped up the second time around:

The 2015 Chateauneuf-du-Pape le Puy Rolland is an all-Grenache cuvée. Full-bodied and extremely round in the mouth, it offers copious amounts of red raspberry and cherry fruit, underscored by just a hint of garrigue and some silky tannins on the finish. — 91

Once Issue 234 goes live, subscribers will be able to find these new reviews in our online database.

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