Wine Journalism–Apples and Apples, or Apples and Pears?

The world’s best wine magazine (according to itself), Decanter (of UK), calls Bordeaux 2010 vintage “an embarrassment of riches”.  The same magazine says “Tight, Tannic” (a clever attempt at “Titanic” – the vintage is going down…?) about Barolo 2006.  One of their tasters also says “where was the energy I want to see in a really fine wine?” As a reader, should I now stock up on 2010 Bordeaux, or go for the (much cheaper) 06 Barolo?

Well, dear Decanter, for the Bordeaux review you came to the conclusion by reviewing an almost complete offering , including ALL the First-, Second-, Third-, Fourth-, and Fifth Growths, as well as top of the list wines from St Emilion and Pomerol.  Robert Parker did his conclusion, including ALL of his Magic 20.  Decanter’s review of Barolo is more or less missing the (Barolo) Magic 20. 

If one looks at this from a winemaker’s point of view, where is Giacomo Conterno, Beppe Rinaldi, Cavallotto,  Bartolo Mascarello, and, dare I say it, Giacosa and Gaia?  A few Americans would add La Spinetta to that list. And what’s the story about taking the top two winemakers in La Morra are Roberto Voerzio and Elio Altare (although very different), and the up and coming dude Marengo, out of the tasting – would a tasting of Pauillac wines without Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Latour, and Chateau Mouton Rothschild make sense?  From the Cru perspective, although there are samples from many, the top wines from Brunate, Lazzaraisco, Vigna Rionda, Monprivato, and the like, are not here.  Again, you would not judge a red Burgundy vintage without including the best wines from Musigny, Clos Vougeot , Bonnes-Mares, and  Chambertin-Clos de Bèze, would you?


Capella delle Brunate, or Barolo Chapel, overseeing the Brunate vineyard, where 06 produced some of the most profound wines ever made in Italy, by Rinaldi, Altare, Voerzio, and Marengo.

Decanter’s 06 Barolo review had one wine over 19 points, and 7 over 18, and thus there’s no comparison at all with Bordeaux 09 or 10.  Add the “First Growths” and the “Grand Crus”, and perhaps the 06 Barolo would make the headline on the front page (like the Bordeaux pieces did). 

Asking the top winemakers in Piemonte, and they will tell you that 01, 04 and 06 are the top vintages this decade, and many will have 06 as their favorite. Ask me, and I will agree. 

Two things then:

People:  Buy 06, from the Barolo Magic 20 if you can, but it is hard to go wrong if you stick to the (next 30) renowned winemakers too, or the top vineyards.

Decanter:  If you want to live up to the tag “the world’s best wine magazine”, be as thorough with all regions as your are with Bordeaux.  Then we can take the review sections seriously.  As we do the rest of the mag!

PS!  There no such thing as a Barolo Magic 20 list, either consisting of winemakers or wines.  Yes, we do have our own “personal” list, but yet not the swagger of a Mr. Parker to make it public……

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One Response to Wine Journalism–Apples and Apples, or Apples and Pears?

  1. Yannick says:

    Marco Marengo (La Morra, Piemonte) is on the rise! Good for him…he is a dear friend of mine and I wish him a lot of success…not too much actually so that we could still enjoy/find his Brunate and Viole!

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