No wine is worth $550 per bottle
By By Stan Torgerson / wine columnist
Dec. 10, 2003
The recognized expert among experts in the world of wine is Robert Parker who lives in the state of Maryland. A former attorney, he started a newsletter in August 1978 with limited circulation that at the time was considered interesting, although not necessarily authoritative.
Then he wrote rave reviews about the 1982 French Bordeaux vintage. Others disagreed and wrote it was a pleasant vintage, that the wines were too fruity, had no lasting power a good vintage but not a great one.
When the wines came out, connoisseurs discovered Parker was right. It was a stunning vintage, one of the best of the century. Based on his recommendations, I personally bought 12 cases of various chateaus, a few bottles of which I still have in my cellar. One 12-bottle case, the 1982 Mouton Rothschild that Parker said rated 100, a perfect wine, cost me $440. Today that wine is sold only at auction and sells for about $550 per bottle.
In other words one bottle now costs more than my entire case which, alas, is long gone. And in answer to your unspoken question, yes it was truly a great wine, but no, it is not worth $550 per bottle. I don't know any wine that is.
Parker's newsletter, The Wine Advocate, is the bible of the world of wine. It is published monthly, sells for $60 per year and carries no advertising and no pictures, It reviews hundreds of wines every month and even in the face of popular wine magazines such as The Wine Spectator, Parker's reviews are the most respected by both producers and consumers. He has given up the business of the law to concentrate on the World of Wine.
A fellow Meridian wine lover sent me a copy of this year's October edition because a portion of it dealt with the newly released 2001 zinfandels, and both of us love zins. Parker says it was "a very good vintage" and that's enough for me.
It should be pointed out too many consumers confuse true red zinfandels with the sweet, soda pop-like white zinfandels. They are two entirely different wines. Red zins are big powerful, almost spicy wines that at the table flatter red meat as well as any wine on the market.
The quality of the 2001 vintage is the good news. Zins can be a difficult wine to make in an off year.
The bad news is Mississippi's state warehouse shows only seven 2001s on its list of 33 available California zinfandels. Unfortunately, only three of the seven were reviewed by Parker. All seven are available, however, if you can convince your favorite wine store to order them. Here are the three and their reviews.
Bogle Zinfandel Old Vines: "The 2001 Old Vine's dark plumb/ruby color is followed by earthy aromas of sandalwood, tree bark, cranberries and cherries. This medium-bodied offering possesses excellent fruit, fine texture and an attractive openness." Rating (on the 100 point scale) 87. Approximate price $13.
Quivira Vineyards: "The 2001 zinfandel, a blend of 88 percent zinfandel and 12 percent petite syrah, offers an attractive fig, earthy, cherry, briery nose. While not complex, it is a pleasant, satisfying, medium-bodied, spicy zinfandel with an angular finish." Rating 87. Approximate price $20.
Seghesio Old Vines: A word of explanation here. The state list shows "Seghesio Old Vines" but this is one of my favorites and I've ordered it in the past. The wine offered by the state is not the Old Vines version, the better wine. It is the regular Sonoma bottling, still a very fine wine but not in the class with the Old Vines.
As to Parker, he says, "For the price/quality ratio, these are some of the finest zinfandels being produced in California. The Seghesio family deserves considerable accolades for both its realistic pricing policy and commitment to high quality. There are 48,000 cases of the 2001 zinfandel Sonoma, a beautiful effort offering up elegant aromas of red and black fruits, intermixed with with hints of pepper and spice. Medium bodied with good purity, and a long concentrated finish, this delicious zinfandel should be drunk over the next three or four years."
I couldn't agree more. He gives the Seghesio Sonoma an 89 rating and an approximate price of $17. The Old Vine bottling is rated 91 with a price of $28. If your wine dealer orders it for you expect to get the lesser wine but even so it is wonderful and a bargain.
The four 2001's available from the state although not reviewed include Eos Paso Robles at about $13, Karly's Pokerville for $12.50, Ravenswood Lodi, about $15, and Toad Hollow, another $13 wine.
All zinfandels are tasty and delightful, but vintage does make a difference and if Parker recommends the 2001, that's means zinfandel lovers are in for a treat. The master is rarely wrong.