Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Longhop Old Vine Grenache 2005 Adelaide Plains

We've had this wine open in our store over the past two days, so I figured it's a good time to give it a pop. Before I get to my thoughts on this selection, here are a couple of interesting points:
  • The 2005 vintage scored 89pts from WA, the 2006 scored 91pts, from the quotes below who can tell which is the 91 pointer?
    • "exhibits strawberry, raspberry, pepper, spice, and background wood characteristics. This fruit-forward, medium to full-bodied, soft Grenache is best consumed over the next several years."
    • "exhibits notes of garrigue, black cherry, and raspberry. Layered and ripe, with gobs of spicy flavor, soft tannins, and excellent length, it can be enjoyed now and over the next 6-8 years."
  • This brings another dimension to the debate... text... the actual review which is ignored by so many as they quickly scan the document looking for the next rock star to add to the cellar. Or worse... the next purchase for the shelves of the shop! ...But that is a topic for another day. A topic, we probably don't want to get into! My point... very often you'll find the text review to be much more complimentary than the number, but that is meaningless. As a former importer I can tell you; my basement is filled with case cards with great text but no 9- in the top corner. They make good kindling for a fire, but that's about it!
  • Point 2: WS gave this one an 84, WA gave it an 89, that's a five point spread. Not huge, but sizeable enough. I remember a few years back, a certain Ribera del Duero clocked in at 91 points in one publication and got panned with a 78 in another. Bad bottles aside, how can this be? If a point system is the "best" method to judge quality, how can one wine score so differently? What the point system doesn't account for is palate preference. We're all different, we all like different wines. A score can absolutely be part of your buying decision but you need to trust your own palate above all others.
  • Oh, and one more problem with 9-'s. Producer's (some, few) now build wine's in order to secure a 90+. And you can't blame them, it's the difference between an empty warehouse and a full one. That's a slippery slope, one that will lead to the extinction of terroir.
Enough rambling, back to the wine in front of me. I like it. In fact, I like it a lot, and I'm not a bid Aussie type of guy. Yes, it's a powerhouse, the fruit is packed in there, and the alcohol is way too high for my typical taste at 15%, but I've found myself continually going back for another taste. That's how a wine should be judged. Do you want another glass? Yes or no? Also, I should note, this stood up very well over night, just a touch of heat on the finish, but the fruit was still very pure.

For us, here at Bin Ends, we love 89's! Many times it will allow us to sell the wine at up to a 45% savings, and judging by the reviews above, I'd take the $16 bottle over the over the $30 bottle any day of the week.

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