Yesterday, I attended an anniversary wine tasting at a local wine store, Wine Sense, and there were several different distributors there showcasing some of their newest wines. Most of the distributors did not have sales materials at their tables but a couple did.
At one of those tables, the distributor had a shelf talker for the 2004 Richard Hamilton Gumprs Shiraz, basically just a quote from Robert Parker and its score, 89 points. Part of Parker's quote stated: "It will provide immense pleasure over the next 2-4 years."
I chatted with the distributor about the wine, the score and The 89 Project. He was in agreement that an 89 score can be the kiss of death for a wine, and that scores really should not dictate which wines to purchase and enjoy. In fact, he decided to remove the shelf talker from his table so that no one else would see the score and so they could judge the wine on its own merits. I was pleased that he did this and maybe there will be one less distributor pushing wine just because of its scores. Maybe all of us can get involved in conversations with distributors and try to persuade them not to use scores as much in their advertising.
As for the wine itself, refer back to Parker's quote from above. Why is a wine that provides "immense pleasure" only worth 89 points? That does not seem to make much sense. Those who buy only 90+ point wines would deprive themselve of a wine that Parker claims could bring them "immense pleasure."
I found this wine to be an atypical Aussie Shiraz. First, it had more of a light red color unlike some of the usual inky dark Shirazes. Though this wine had some delicious red fruit, especially cherry and raspberry, it was not a fruit bomb. It had a lighter body and was not jammy at all. It seemed more like a Rhone wine than the usual Aussie. It had decent complexity and a moderate finish. And at $20, this wine is a good value. Did Parker score this wine below 90 points because it was not a typical Aussie Shiraz? We shall never know.