Wine Reviews: What Kind Do You Prefer? (Part II)

By John ~ June 15th, 2011.

Last month in Wine Reviews: What Kind Do You Prefer? (Part I), I listed four expert reviews and two ratings for the same wine, which I can tell you now was the 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, the Wine Spectator #1 wine for 2009; and asked you to share whether you preferred detailed notes that test the English language skills of the critic, only a quick and dirty points (or stars) rating, or something in between.

The responses came via comments to that post as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and through direct messages. Thanks for your candid thoughts and opinions. After reading and compiling the results, it was apparent that most of our readers who commented preferred something in between very detailed notes and just a rating.

The review that was preferred by the most commenters was #2, which was written here on Wine Peeps on November 30, 2009 by Kori. I thought Gary best summed up this review in his comment: “I appreciate the descriptive but brief style of note number 2. I also like its sequencing (sight, smell, flavor/texture), which parallels what we do with a glass.” I suppose one could conclude that if one didn’t like this style of tasting note, they wouldn’t be reading this blog.

Review #4 was a close second, although very different in style and length to #2. Interestingly, Reviews #1 and #3 were not the preferred review by any of the commenters.

Those that liked a points-type rating preferred #6, the five-star Quality rating system with QPR that we use here on Wine Peeps. Again, I recognize that this survey is of our readers so there may be bias toward our system.

In summary, it appears that our readers prefer something a little more than just a “Yum” or “Yuck” rating, but not so detailed and esoteric that they need a dictionary at their side. It also appears that Kori’s sight/smell/taste/finish sequence to her tasting notes resonates with readers as being what they do when tasting and that our 5-star ratings with QPRs add value to our readers.

To refresh your memory when reading references to the reviews on the 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon above, here they are again:

  1. Ripe in flavor, with a vivid array of black currant, blackberry, violet, black tea and black pepper aromas and flavors that zoom through to a long, expressive finish. Shows subtlety in the layers of complex flavor against a refined structure. Tannins are present but nicely contained. Best from 2010 through 2015.
  2. Deep, dark purple in color and very aromatic. Aromas of blackberry, black cherry, oak, spice, and a hint of cayenne pepper lead to flavors of blackberry, black currant, and chocolate. Full-bodied with good acidity, high tannins, and a very long finish. Well-balanced and extremely smooth.
  3. Scents of tobacco enhance the ripe, lush black fruits, which amply demonstrate the power of Washington grapes. The winemaking is polished, the barrel aging adds vanilla and smoke, and at this new, lower price, it’s a good value as well.
  4. The nose is less fruit forward … and has more of a spice component, particularly cigar box and black licorice. The fruit, particularly blackberry, is layered under the spice. The nose shows light coffee grounds as the wine opens up. This wine, at least initially, has a much bigger body … with black licorice on the taste and beautifully refined tannins that glide across the tongue. Overall, this is a much more tannin driven wine. Needs 2+ years to be at its best. 14.2% alcohol. 5,500 cases produced. After a couple hours of decanting, lots of blackberry and coffee grounds come through. This is a pretty big wine. The finish doesn’t have quite as much as I want which is its only detraction.
  5. 95 points.
  6. Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5), QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Miscellaneous, Red Wine, Washington State Wine

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