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July 03, 2009

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I heard similar comments from Mitch Frank about Hudson Valley Wines. His comment was "we don't know much about Hudson Valley Wines because they don't submit their products to WS." I wonder when the last time anyone from WS came to visit the Hudson Valley Wine Country and tasted any of the wines produced here. Spoke to any of the owners or winemakers.

I think there are various reasons that wineries don't submit their wines. Winemakers are artists. Artists think their products are all the best. They don't take criticism to well and take it personally.

You need to be able learn from criticism to better your products and business.

This is actually quite a generous setup for wineries: Convince your peers to submit wines as a group and you'll almost certainly receive more coverage. You're also much more likely to have a writer visit, and if you have a compelling story to tell they're often open to sharing it with their readers. This is not a plug for WS; the evidence is there. Now, clearly there needs to be some quality to speak of, but LI doesn't have to worry about that.

We can digress into whether scores are a fair representation of a wine's quality, but that's not what this is about. This is about pragmatism. This is about visibility. Even a small producer that is selling successfully out the door is missing an opportunity on some level by not being a part of the coverage.

I think that if Long Island wines had wider distribution, they'd care a lot more about WS scores (as they relate to the actual business of a winery).

With limited distribution (due in part to small production that largely sells out locally anyway) getting good scores from WS is more about pride and maybe even ego.

We can't thank Morgen, Bob Madill and many others enough for putting an "organized" effort into this matter.

Working as a team seems to help a lot. One can't imagine being turned down when showing up with 70+ wines to be reviewed at one of the "big" three magazines.

The door is already a little "open"! With combined efforts and the best possible focus on quality we will "run in the door with the frame"!! Persistence, persistence, persistence.....

There is no doubt in my mind actually that the WS is fair in their assesment of LI and FL wines, from what I've read over the years. And I disagree with the dubious accusations of non-blind tasting practices. They've been nothing but transparent and consistent, as I see it.

I disagree on a couple of points: En masse shipments of LI wines to their offices in NY (assuming it hasn't been pre-arranged or requested) will only force them to consider each wine in the context of each other - and not in the global context we really wish to be seen in. An en masse report could isolate the region from the global perspective, not the opposite. (Although there is no denying the ocverage it may receive would be nice, it will be once and fleeting, not the steady stream of coverage we'd hope for.

Further, I disagree with the distribution question. While CA producers enjoy 50 states to play in, we have but 2 or 3 generally speaking. But let's not forget the magazine generously reviews French, German, Spanish, and Italian wines, large and small, and I'd bet the vast majority of them will only by found in NYC, LA, and Chicago - maybe Miami. (Not all, but enough to make my point.)

I think we are mixing the arguments that "some don't need to submit samples" and "we should work together." There will be no blanket policy that all of the NY wineries will agree is the right way for them. The Council knows this, I think. Macari sees the benefit of scores and coverage, Croteaux does not. Personally I see no downside: If a winery doesn't want a low score, don't submit sub-standard wine. Macari's SB recently scored in WE is a beautiful wine! I suspect Croteaux Rose would get a fine score too.

Trade representatives such as those who market the wines of Rioja, or Emilia-Romagna, or CIVB, or Wines of South Africa, all have varying degrees of effectiveness. Only Wines of Australia is a powerhouse, and truely effective, and that is (simply) because they are a government agency, with government funds, and a real long-term marketing plan. But you may note that not even that will save the Aussies from the precipitous drop they are taking now.

It takes a shining star or two in each region to elevate that (young) region's visibility, in my opinion. It puts the region "on the map." We should continue to be focused on making the best wines we can. We should continue to abandon hybrids, plant more and different varieties, develop our terrior and our identity and our skills. Then the world will take notice - it's happening now. Maybe we'll we have to be listed as 'United States - Other', anymore.

Jim -

I admit I'm confused about one of your points. First, you defend WS from any idea that their reviewers might subconsciously employ confirmation bias when reviewing wines from a given region. Lenn's question was, essentially, "If you want to accurately assess a LI Merlot, why not mix it in with other Merlots from around the world?" And other industry professionals have similar questions; they point out that even a skilled taster would be susceptible to confirmation bias if they know the region from which a wine comes. So they want to know why WS doesn't choose to taste the wines in a global context -- and yet you defend WS's decision not to do so.

Then, you lament the fact that WS doesn't consider LI wines in the global context. You seem to think the reason is because the wines are shipped en masse to the WS offices. Does this really make sense? You're saying that if WS receives, say, 100 LI wines, it matters if they're shipped individually versus being shipped together?

Perhaps I'm reading your comment incorrectly. I hope you can clarify -- thanks!

Evan - Perhaps I wasn't clear. I'm not suggesting NY wines should be tasted in a global context per se, I'm suggesting they should be judged in a global context.

For example, five Merlots show up to be tasted blind: The CA fruit bomb gets 88, the complex Bordeaux gets 88, the long flavored earthy LI Merlot gets 88, the soft, elegant Italian gets 88 and the crisp, light FL gets 88.

I suggest that an assesment of Merlots can be done blind - I suppose we call the single blind. I do defend WS, and suggest this is how it should be done. And I don't believe in conspiracy theories either!

But if we pit LI Merlot against LI Merlot ALL THE TIME there will be winners and there will be losers. Have you ever assessed Mouton, Latour and Lafite together? One at a time they can be dream-like in quality. Put them together, and only one will win the day (usually Latour.)

As for my lamentations, I didn't say those things at all. I do believe that LI is and should be treated in a global context. I didn't say that en masse samplings were happening, I did say that they SHOULD NOT happen.

I guess what I'm saying overall is that to be a world player you need to act like one, and not be surprised when you are assessed against the Mosel, the Rhine, Paulliac and Pomerol. And that en masse samplings will render us obscure - all the reviews in one issue - no constant presence - all assessments made against ourselves - none on the world stage.

Where do we want to be? Staring at each other all the time? Or staring down the rest of the world?

Evan - On a different note, how does confirmation bias affect one's sensibility when all the wines in a tasting are from the same flight?

I don't get a confirmation bias when I taste a flight of Bordeaux or a flight of Barolos.

Are you suggesting that there is IN FACT a bias against NY? That is is purposefully marked down for its origins by critics at large?

If so, that is a major problem and one that can ONLY be addressed by the further development of quality and by the single blind assessments I suggest above.

WE, WS, and RP are always going to be accused of bias when scores are low. Never when you are getting 90s. It's the way of the world.

Seyval Blancs just don't get 90s. Rieslings do.

Jim -

I'm getting a better understanding of where you're coming from now. Couple of responses...

First, I agree a thousand times over regarding the end goal: We want NY wines (and all wines) compared to their brethren around the world, not simply compared to their counterparts in that region. Absolutely. And even though a Finger Lakes Riesling offers a different sense of place and thus a different profile than a Mosel Riesling, I'd like to see those wines side-by-side. Not because I want to see "winners and losers," but because I want to learn about what the grape produces in varying locations, and how those products compare. I find it fascinating.

But I think you and I perceive two different things here. You argue that by sending wines en masse, it essentially guarantees a big block of ratings comparing those wines only from the same region. The logical next step would be to submit them individually and push for more global comparison.

I argue that by not submitting in strong numbers, those wines are likely not to be written up at all. Yes, they're going to be tasted and probably scored, but the likelihood of thoughtful coverage, visits, etc is lessened.

I also argue that as a region increases its profile, its wines will eventually and inevitably earn a place in global comparisons.

I conceded that perhaps I am too optimistic, but I give publications like WS credit for taking the time to learn more about regions that are taking the time to submit wines.

Regarding confirmation bias, yes, the argument is that if a taster does not know the producers but knows the region, it's entirely possible that a wine that would otherwise be 91 in a double-blind setting would be 87 or 88. I'm not saying I believe that, but the possibility does not strike me as absurd. As humans, we're psychologically impacted by myriad factors, so any information at all is likely to play some role, no?

Jim and Evan: Loving this discussion, great stuff.

First, a clarification of my own... I don't necessarily agree with en masse submissions either, but if the region as a whole decides that WS is a key part of the on-going go-to-market, then there should be a coordinated effort. Short-sighted or not, it has been effective for the Finger Lakes region.

Now getting into the actual tasting process that WS employs. The 2nd part of this post will focus almost exclusively on that topic. My understanding, at this point, is that yes, the wines are tasted "blind" but that the tasters know the region and the grape.

I would never accuse any professional taster or publication of intentional bias. But I think that it's entirely possible that New York wines aren't rated on the same scale as those from "great traditional" regions.

Consciously or subconsciously, isn't it possible that a taster would say to him or herself "Wow, this is an incredible merlot...for Long Island"? Again, I'm not saying that they are thinking that at the front of their minds, but could it be in the back somewhere, maybe where they don't even realize it?

I think that there might be a "What if James Molesworth were covering Long Island and Thomas Matthews were covering Finger Lakes?" question here as well. How would things differ? Has James made a point of visiting the region more because the significant wine submissions have earned his attention? Or is it that the quality of said wines earned it? Or both?

If you look through some historical WS ratings for Long Island, the interesting thing is that dessert wines and chardonnay have received some of the highest scores over time. I don't think anyone believes that those are the wines that Long Island does best. Hopefully we can figure out how that happened.

I'm very hopeful that we'll all gain a greater understanding of how things work at WS. Thomas has been extremely open and forthright with me, and I'm asking some direct questions.

Jim: When you were at Pindar, did you submit wines? I know that Bedell did and the 05 Musee got a 90 (and you raised the price not long after)? I guess you saw a great benefit from that score?

What will your strategy be for PBW?

I'd also be curious to hear from some of our Finger Lakes readers to find out if the piles of 88s and 89s have had much impact on sales, both in the tasting rooms and online/retail/etc.

Lenn,

As far as I know, no one is accusing anyone of intentional bias. Confirmation bias is not something that tasters seek to employ. And it's entirely possible that, for example, a LI Merlot that receives 87 points would receive 87 points when tasted blind in an international tasting.

When you say, "short-sighted or not, it has been effective for the Finger Lakes," it implies that this approach might be short-sighted. I guess I just don't understand how.

Evan,

Right, but it's also possible that if the tasters thought that that 87-point LONG ISLAND merlot were a Right Bank Bordeaux, it would be scored a 92.

Again, I'm not saying that has happened or is happening, but is it possible? I think so.

The short-sighted comment was actually in reaction to an email someone sent me. He hasn't posted the same comment here on the blog, so I shouldn't assume it's for public consumption. Hopefully he'll explain why he thinks it is!

Evan -

You'll get no argument from me on any of your good points above.

Sadly, I think the numerical system of ratings, ultimately, is what creates winners and losers. (90 you win, 89 you lose.) Like you, I totally agree in the intellectual exploration as the true reason to compare any wine to any other. But the numbers game works for so many readers.

I think were on the same page.

Lenn - I'll look forward to part two to see what Tom says, I've no doubt the integrity of his position. Like I said, I don't believe in the conspiracy at WS, but I can be convinced that there is that "good...for a LI Merlot" mentality among the consumers, which is a shame.

I really can't comment on Bedell since I no longer speak for them but at PBW, we taste and compare our wines to others in their price point from all over the world before a decision is made to submit them to WS. Some will be submitted, especially our 07 whites and our 05 Merlot. I'm very proud of the quality.

I think no one produces world class wines every year from every varietal from every vineyard. To get good scores, select your best, send them in, and hope for the best.

From what I've read 100 times over, Lenn's assessment of WS's tasting process is accurate: they don't know the label being tasted, but they do know the region. This absolutely leads to biased ratings.
I don't have the specific references at my fingertips, but numberous studies have shown scores get inflated by preconceived notions. One particular example I always recall was a study where people tasted $10 wines blind but were told they were tasting $100 wines. Their praise for the wines was through the roof because they had preconceived notions that $100 would be great.
The same bias (whether conscious or subconscious) holds true about regions. I gaurantee that if you gave WS a dozen of the best Merlots from LI and told them they were blind tasting Bordeaux, the scores would easily exceed 90 pts because when you know the region you are tasting, your expectations are adjusted accordingly; ie: Bordeaux is supposed to be great, whereas LI is just OK and the "blind" scores reflect those preconceived notions.
Double blind is the only way to go.

Dave,

I would assume that if you gave WS reviewers a dozen LI Merlots and told them the wines were from Bordeaux, they would suspect something was up. Not because LI can't make good Merlot, but because the grape does different things on different sites, and skilled reviewers come to know what the differences are.

But your larger point -- that double blind is the must effective way to remove any accidental bias -- seems difficult to argue. I'm glad that Lenn is raising this point with Mr. Matthews.

Evan

After doing and hosting blind tastings for 25 years (with professionals as well as amateurs) all I can say is: you'd be surprised.

Lenn,

For your conversation with Matthews, let me plant the following thoughts.

We probably all agree that regions have separate identities. So, if wines are reviewed based on their separate regional identities, then it seems the reviewer should first establish what that identity is; then, to evaluate the wines on an equal basis, the rating system would need to be reset for each region.

If, however, the evaluation is either of varietal character or overall esoterically or aesthetically established benchmarks, then to keep the wines on equal footing negates the necessity for knowing their regional identity.

If a regional identity is known, and the rating system is not reset for the individual wines to be on equal footing the consumer has no real basis on which to form any opinion of the ratings, and the odds are greater that the reviewers are either unknowingly or knowingly expressing a bias.

I think it is fine for LI wineries to get their wines reviewed by WIne Spectator, but I think it is clear that, over the last ten years or so, the influence those scores generate has waned.

I think there are a few reasons for this. The proliferation of wine blogs (like this one) and other wine publications has decreased the Spectator's influence. At one time, the Spectator and Wine Advocate stood virtually alone covering and reviewing wines, but now the field is crowded. Further, over the years the Spectator has become much more of a "lifestyle" magazine that fewer and fewer hardcore wine geeks read. So while a good score from the Spectator might be nice and attract the attention of people just getting into wine or the casual drinker, it is doubtful that a Spectator score will ever create a serious buzz about the region (the only caveat to this would be in the unlikely occurrence that a LI wine gets their "WIne of the Year" award - - that, and I am baffled by this, still carries a lot of weight).

By contrast, the the story and review that David Schildnecht gave Long Island wines in the June 2006 edition of the Wine Advocate propelled a summer's long buzz about LI wines with many follow-up articles commenting on what Schildnecht had to say. The Advocate, though not perfect, is a much more serious publication, and their scores move the market, especially among those who have been most resistant toward the viability of LI wines (i.e. serious collectors and geeks).

So while it is nice when the Spectator gives LI wines some good scores, to me, no one should expect those scores to seriously change the region's perception.

I know this goes off on a tangent a bit, but I'm pretty much given up on both WS and WA.
Agreeing with Jeff's point above, I think WS has gradually shifted focus over the years and lost their core wine lovers, instead catering to lifestyle readers, wine rookies, and happy-hour/cocktail-wine-drinkers. As for the Wine Advocate, I generally liked it much better (lack of advertising for one thing) but stopped subscribing when I could only find 2% of the wines ever mentioned in the reviews.
Now my only true printed wine reading comes from Food & Wine magazine…. and I know they are not a wine centric review/rating magazine. My interest in F&W stems more from my belief that you can't really enjoy wine unless it is part of an overarching food experience. I'm always interested to see what wines F&W pairs with their recipes... and while I may not find the exact bottle they reference, I’m interested in learning which varietal/grape they chose for the pairing. (PS: they quite often recommend NY wines, too.)

im only halfway thru reading the comments, but i gotta chime in now ...

jim, your wrong about hybrids. period. the europeans were probably not making world class wine in their first 100 years ... it took many thousands of years for them to perfect the grapes.

two, there is a fundimental clashing between this idea of making "world class wine" and the reality of running a vineyard or winery as a buisness. its all well and good for all us wine drinkers to chide the farmer, to say plant this, plant that ... its not easy, or even economically fesible to be replanting at least a quarter of your vineyards every spring. And its easy to tell the winemaker to make his wine in such and such a style; the wines they make are selling, keeping the buisness afloat, and small buisness owners, a notoriously consertive bunch, are loathed to change something that works. When 9 out of 10 people comming into your tasting room each day have never been there before, dont really know much about wine, and are just out for a nice day "in the country," dont expect to put out some first class, ultra dry multi year cellared wine, cause they wont care or even know to care. you just better have something sweet under twenty, or your gonna be pouring tastings all day and not selling anything ...

more to come ...

I'd like to see someone speak to the fundamental question of why one would submit in the first place. I think Lenn made a great point about it in an earlier comment, when he noted that for a small producer who consistently sells out locally, the only reason to submit becomes, essentially, cachet. And is that what producers are truly after? Is there any other reason to submit? How about the "higher cause" of a regional reputation? Does Long Island's reputation grow if there are 15 producers on the island with wines getting 90+ ratings, as opposed to only one or two? And is that something that LI producers should collectively be concerned about? Lenn also mentioned the LIWC, is that something the LIWC should be thinking about, given that they're ostensibly in charge of promoting the region, upping its profile, and heightening its reputation? Again, why submit at all? Perhaps it's a confidence boost? A little affirmation can go a long way when you're a little fish in a big, big pond. Sometimes it helps to know that the oenologic intelligencia thinks you're doing something right. Here's another question; why decide NOT to submit? I know for certain there are a number of LI producers who deliberately don't submit because they're afraid of the score they're going to get. It's a gamble; if you get an 84, the whole wine world is going to know about it, and you can never take it back. So why risk it?

To take a different tack, I think the debate over the "fairness" of the rating system (are they blind, are they not blind, should they be regional or not, should they know the price ahead of time, etc.) is pretty much a waste of time. Nothing in the world is truly objective or fair, we're humans, we have biases and preconceptions; good days and bad days; minds that change. So arguing against the submission game because of a perception of unfairness seems a bit silly; it's a racket, always has been and always will be; know it going in, and take your risk. Or don't. The sad truth is, whether the game is rigged or not, the results matter. People buy wines because of ratings. Why? Because there is too much wine out there, and it's too hard to sort through it all. So we need help. From the big wine writers (Parker, Laube, Tanzer, Robinson, etc.) to the cult figures (Gary V.), we think of them as friends who know more about wine then we do, and we trust their opinions when we can't generate one ourselves. And when it comes to wine, or anything artisanal/cultural, we're a surprisingly insecure lot. Rarely do people just stand up for themselves and say, "I don't know, I just like it!" People are far more comfortable enjoying something that's been "endorse." So perhaps that's what the submission game is about? Producers want their wines on the inside of the velvet rope, part of the canonical set, the "accepted" offerings? There might be something to that, and I think that's where the issue of regionality comes back into play. Maybe it doesn't help a single producer who only sells direct-to-consumer at the 3000-4000 case level to get a high rating in an internationally-read magazine, but does it help the region? I think so. Think of the phrases, "New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc," "Argentinean Malbec," "Oregon Pinot Noir," etc. These are THINGS, they're encapsulations of zetigeists, they're phenomenons. Long Island doesn't have that yet, despite desperately straining to make "Long Island Merlot" a THING, or "Long Island Cabernet Franc" a THING. What could change that? Maybe a fat batch of good ratings ...

Just my two cents ...

Wow, Chris Watkins...where've you been this whole time? Very well put. Very well put indeed.

Great topic, great discussion.

I agree that LI wineries need to collectively promote the region's reputation. Submitting wines for review to publications such as WS is just one more way to get coverage and exposure. I have been living in nyc for eight years, and the sad fact is that I still encounter people that don't even know we make wine on LI. Obviously these are not wine professionals or even serious wine drinkers, but their ignorance is our fault. LI has been too content to sell our wines in the tasting room and not focus on the broader picture. Our market may only be a few states, but the biggest market in the world is in our state and our backyard and our wines are underrepresented in nyc. Yes, it is a bit about pride and about ego. I don't like the fact that almost no one I know in NY drinks wine from NY. What other wine region in the world has that problem?

The smaller guys that don't see the point of submitting their wines because they sell all of their inventory anyway are missing the point. When a LI producer gets positive exposure, it benefits all LI producers, because it helps lift the reputation of the region. But 1 or 2 positive reviews is not enough.

The reputation of LI wines among consumers is not in line with the quality of the wines. The only way to change that is to get people to buy and drink the stuff, and positive exposure can only help. Good reviews will help to erase the preconceived bias that, I think most or all of us can agree, is part of human nature and is real. When we go to restaurants and retail outlets to place our wines, they are not tasted blind. And when a consumer looks through the shelves or the wine lists they don't taste at all. They choose solely based on their bias or another's endorsement. They choose first and taste later. The goal is to get them to choose LI and to that end, a positive reputation for the region is essential.

Christopher,

You wrote:

"I think the debate over the "fairness" of the rating system (are they blind, are they not blind, should they be regional or not, should they know the price ahead of time, etc.) is pretty much a waste of time. Nothing in the world is truly objective or fair, we're humans, we have biases and preconceptions; good days and bad days; minds that change."

Sorry, but I think this is wildly off-base. You're correct that humans are, well, human, and humans have good and bad days, etc. But to say that these things should lead us to accept, without debate, whatever rating system is created... Well, that's misguided.

I don't think anyone is arguing for a rating system that can somehow remove human elements. But the questions that are being asked are the right ones. Why not rate wines double-blind? Why not rate Merlots from around the world, instead of by region? How does TM feel about potential confirmation bias? The more we understand about why a publication is doing things the way they do it, the more we can decide if we think that system is valid. If we think it's valid, fine. If we don't, the only way to effect change is to challenge it. But the worst thing we can do is sit idly by and say, "Well, gee, critics are human, so why even challenge the way they choose to score wines?"

I'm curious to see the answers from TM regarding how they score, and why. It will be instructive for all of us.

Blogs are so interactive where we get lots of informative on any topics nice job keep it up !!

Regarding Evan's response to my previous comment:

First off, Evan, thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my comment. I'm sorry you felt that I was "wildly off-base" and "misguided."

In my defense, I don't believe I ever said we shouldn't question the system, or agitate to improve the standards of assessment, and of course I'm sorry if anything I wrote seemed to indicate anything of the sort. What I actually wrote was, "arguing against the submission game because of a perception of unfairness seems a bit silly." The point being that, flawed or not, it's the only game in town, and you'll have to reconcile to that if you want to play. I did not say anything to the effect of, "Well, gee, critics are human, so why even challenge the way they choose to score wines." I merely meant to indicate that a certain amount of flaw is written into the game, and my feeling is a) it will always be that way in some fashion, and b) it's probably a waste of time to put that front-and-center when deciding whether to participate in the submission game.

To continue borrowing from the world of sport for metaphor, I would put it this way: professional sports in America are flawed; steroids in baseball, illegal recruiting in football, gambling in the NBA, etc. Serious problems that should and are being addressed. But in the meantime, if you want to make it "big", with all the requisite cachet that comes with having done so (as opposed to simply making a living as an athlete), then you'll have to make your peace with this world of professional sports in the US, like it or not. The sentence-case Dominican Republic, for example, did not become the capital-letter DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (hot bed of developing young talent) by sending kids off to simply earn paychecks in Japan.

The same can be said about the world of wine, per my previous comments. The world of wine is flawed; ethical standards at Wine Advocate, bias at Spectator, etc. "Serious problems that should and are being addressed." But if you want to make it "big", as opposed to just earning a paycheck, you'll have to reconcile to it sooner or later.

In my opinion, it's far more important to look closely, and inward, at one's real and true reason for wanting to enter the submission game; to ask oneself why one wants to do it. And if the reputation, cachet, etc. are what you're after, then it doesn't really matter whether you think the game is flawed or not, you're going to have to play. And if alternatively you can come to the conclusion that you don't really need the hoopla and the hype after all, that you're perfectly happy doing the viticultural equivalent of earning a paycheck (i.e. selling out locally via direct-to-consumer), then again it doesn't really matter whether you think "the game is flawed" or not, because you're not participating.

In the end, all I meant to suggest was that there are a lot of other, and to my mind more important, issues at stake when deciding whether, in the specific case we're talking about, Long Island producers should individually and/or collectively get more aggressive about submitting to the "major label" wine publications.

Christopher,

Thanks for the clarification; it was me who was off-base. I did indeed misinterpret your point, and I appreciate your patience on this one!

Lenn has chosen to raise two issues. The first is laid out in this post: Should LI submit to WS? The second, still to come, concerns the methodology of scoring. I viewed them as entirely separate issues, whereas you blended the two in (correctly) pointing out that some LI producers might choose not to submit because of the methodology.

My point -- regarding the importance of questioning the scoring -- remains the same in that I think it's a valid exercise. However, now that I understand your position, I certainly agree that producers have a decision to make on submission -- but it's shouldn't rest on the scoring system. They can question the system and simultaneously submit.

Again, my apologies for the confusion, and thanks for taking the time to add to this discussion.

My answer: No.

Sorry, was that comment too short? ;-)

Dude,

You're just used to short comments cause your blog makes people break them up. ;)

Really, though, if you can elaborate, I'd love to hear it. There's no pragmatic value?

On LI, at least, tasting room sales are probably more profitable, and steady, than selling at a deep discount to a store, distributor or restaurant...right?

The vineyards and wineries are also now selling an experience and a backstory along with the bottle filled with a drinkable artisanal agricultural product.

Over the years the WS LI wine reviews have been less helpful and even less informative in contrast to the accompanying articles describing the region; many times the reviews (and number ratings) undercut the positive message about successful winemaking on LI that the article is putting forth, so the WS can confuse the consumer. That may be just my opinion. Perhaps the 84 would have been awarded an 83 if it wasn't from a LI producer.

At any rate, in my personal experience, many of the wines from the mid-1990's through early 2000's which I know were spectacular values and marvelously delicious wines received lackluster (sub-88) scores.

And I am mostly referring to roses and whites here. Don't get me started on the reds.

Thanks for your comment Evan! Onwards and upwards ...

CW

nice blog, it's quite informative for readers.


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