What’s The Score?

Bob Miller 
Wine Director of Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor

I’d love to be a wine critic. Be­lieve me, I do more than my fair share of criticism of fermented grape juice, but I’d love to be one of those people that slaps a “95” on a bottle of wine when it’s really outstanding, or perhaps a “72” if it’s a real clunker. Consumers seem to shop by the reviews and the scores. I suppose that’s one way to go. Personally, scores don’t carry much weight with me. There are certain­ly some critics opinions I value, but how much of it is objective versus subjective?

First thing you need to know it that most publications that do wine reviews don’t do it for free. Wine makers must pay to have their wines submitted for review. Don’t worry. Everything is on the up and up. Win­eries don’t pay to have high scores, but smaller wineries, some of which are making incredible wines, often can’t afford the cost of having their wines submitted for reviews.

So, what’s a score worth? If I re­spect the critic, then my take on all of this is that these guys and gals know what they’re talking about. If a wine scores highly, then it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s a great representation of a particular style of wine from a spe­cific area. Very few wine critics base their scores on how much they like it, although I could argue that it has to ac­count for at least some of their review. That’s why certain critics specialize in wines from certain regions. Well, I suppose that if I got my wish, I’d be reviewing mostly French wines. Let’s have a go of it, shall we?

Chateau Sipian Médoc 2014: This is a great representation of some of the great wines coming from the left bank of Bordeaux. Medium to full bodied, with fleshy red fruit, ripe cherry and just a hint of vegetation hiding in the tannins on the finish. Let this one lay down for about 5-10 years, or bust out the decanter for about a half hour and you should be very satisfied. Organically produced. $19.99/bot-tle. I give this one 92 points.

Chateau Martinat Côtes de Bourg 2012: Over to the right bank of Bordeaux for this one. What I love about this is how utterly ex­posed the Merlot is. This blend is about 80% Merlot and the remain­der is Malbec. Silky, blueberry fruit, but not forced into it. Supple finish and very feminine. This bottle is ready to drink right now. Pull the cork and go. Organic. $21.99. I give this one 93 very subjective points.


Joe Canal’s has two locations in Egg Harbor Township-Fire & Tilton Road and Black Horse Pike (near Lowes)