Wine rating systems are imperfect, but often useful. To get the most out of them it helps to be familiar with the reviewer’s palate — if he or she consistently likes the same sort of things you do and has similar criticisms of those you don’t, then you can give their opinions a higher degree of credence.
Consider, then, the Marquis Philips S2 Cabernet Sauvignon. Since its first vintage in 2001 through the 2005, Robert Parker’s newsletter, The Wine Advocate, has rated it in the 90s. Parker really liked the ’05 vintage and awarded it 94 points, making it a really good deal at about $35 per bottle. And that vintage is indeed a Parker-style wine — big, jammy and highly extracted, with lots of fruit and complexity.
Then came the ’06, and the Advocate gave the S2 an 89-point score and a vague review. But it wasn’t a Parker review; it was written by Jay Miller. Regardless of who actually wrote the review, the effect was the same: Now S2 was perceived as an expensive 89-point wine.
So, the ’06 didn’t sell as well as previous vintages. The result: If you look around, you can find it on sale for a lot less than $35 (I got mine for $19.99). And for twenty bucks, it’s a helluva wine!
This is an Aussie Cab that a Californian could love, with cedar on the nose and blackberries and cassis on the palate. Its tannins provide structure without pucker, and its finish is long and dry. It’s a big wine but a refined one, less jammy and more elegant. And it carries its 15.9 percent charge of alcohol gracefully, with no hints of bitterness or heat.
It benefits from half an hour in a decanter, and continues to open and develop in the glass. Short-term cellaring would achieve the same thing — this would be a good wine to buy a case of and revisit every six months. And I’ll bet that even if you paid full price, you wouldn’t be sorry.
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