Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva 2007

I picked this up at Costco for 12$. I figured that since this is the first time that I've seen a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo at Costco, that it might be interesting, if not at least good. You can't see it in the picture, but the bottle had a weird cutting of what I'm assuming was a dried out grape vine/twig tied to it. Strange. I guess the reason that Costco is carrying this is that Parker gave it 90 points, and 12$ is probably a decent deal for a Parker 90 pointer. 

We drank this with pasta alla norma, and it went pretty well with it. (More and more, I'm starting to view wine as a "cocktail" as an aberration...) The wine features plummy, figgy, currantty, bordering on raisin fruit with notes of licorice, and just a bit of spice or earth lurking in the background. This wine took a while to really open up; initially it seemed incredibly closed and wasn't showing much of itself. There is a good amount of acidity to back up the fruit. Sarah and I weren't all that impressed with this wine for two reasons: 1. Isn't Montepulciano d'Abruzzo normally a really bright, rustic cherry-ish wine? This one isn''s besieged by the scourge of Parker and doesn't seem like it's typical or has the soul of a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. 2. It's just not that interesting. That being said, there's nothing wrong with this wine. It's just uninspired. C

Lastly, you ought to read an interesting take by W. Blake Gray called the "100 Point Scale and Liberal Elitism." As I've said a lot of times, Gray seems to be pretty on point and I really enjoy his writing. However, I do have one problem with his analysis on the 100 point scale. And that's that he contends the market "levels the playing field" so that everyone can understand wine. I don't think that's true. I think it adds more noise to an already confusing system. I was talking to my friend the other night over some California wines, (He happens to be the wine buyer for a supermarket chain), and we were talking about how people buy wine. Kendall Jackson is the number one wine in the United States, and it doesn't have anything to do with points. It has to do with branding. The reason that it has to do with branding, and that points are prevalent, is that most people don't have a clue as to what to buy, what's good, or even in a lot of cases, what they might like. They've figured out that they like Kendall Jackson, or Mondavi, or whatever other wine that sells well, but they can't make the leap and figure out what else they're going to like. So they keep on buying the ubiquitous wine that's everywhere and they look for that. There's nothing wrong with that. Do they care that it got 87 points from Wine Spectator? No. Does the 87 points help them out? No. When they go get other 87 point wines, or a 90 point wine, and they don't like it because it isn't similar, did the points help them out? No. They confuse them. Points only level the playing field to the extent that the players are able to understand what they're getting when they buy a wine that has X points from a particular taster. I know I don't really like a lot of Tanzer wines. So I stay away from them. People that might be inclined to pick up some Kendall Jackson, probably don't know whether they like Parker, Tanzer, or Gary V. What point does it serve to have their opinion out there when people are buying into the brand? Points don't simplify things, they make them more complicated...and points are like a secondary brand that is on something. Call it a co-brand. Regardless, Gray is right. People should drink what they like. If it's not what you like, it's none of your business. 


CabFrancoPhile said...

I had a gut instinct this wine was not to be trusted. The little twig suggested they thought more about the packaging than the wine.

This sort of raisin wine seems really common in the $10-$12 90 point Italian wine category. Bricotondo Barbera and A Mano Primitivo have exactly the same roasted, extracted fruit character. They are perfectly fine to drink, but have zero character.

Jeff said...

Yeah, curiosity got the better of me on this one. Been in a bit of a rut lately with wine shopping. Just been a bit lazy really. I've liked a couple vintages of the Briccotondo, but they've been 9$, which is a quarter less. Haven't had A-Mano in a really long time. But yeah, you're right for the 10-12$ price point, except I think that it generally isn't true for "non-branded" wines. If you pick up something that's from a smaller producer in that price range, it's more likely than not to be something different and interesting than if it's a big brand.

CabFrancoPhile said...

The 'tell' for me is the 88-90 point score. It takes something very ripe or very spoofy to score that high in the $10 range. The unbranded wines probably don't even have scores since they don't have a big time importer getting a critic to score them high. If they are scored, a low/mid 80 score is more likely to be a real wine.