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Gillman
04-03-2006, 19:06
The great American wine expert and writer, Robert M. Parker Jr., wrote this in his last Wine Buyer's Guide about Harlan Estate, a Cabernet-based wine from a boutique California winery with a very high reputation:

"What can I say about the 1994? It satisfied all my requirements for perfection. ... spectacular aromatics soar from the glass offering up celestial levels of black currants, minerals, smoked herbs, cedar wood, coffee and toast. ...this seamless legend reveals full body and exquisite layers of phenomenally pure and rich fruit, followed by a 40+ second finish. ... Every possible jagged edge - acidity, alcohol, tannin, and wood - is brilliantly intertwined in what seems like a diaphanous format ...no hint of heaviness or coarseness, immortality in a glass".

Wow. This is about a wine that fetches hundreds of dollars each on release.

It struck me reading this it wasn't a bad description of a great bourbon.

Recently a SB-er posted a review of a luxury Beam finished in a cognac barrel that might merit this description, but I wouldn't limit it to that.

Any other bourbon candidates?

Gary

P.S. Has anyone tasted a Harlan Estate? It sounds marvelous.

TNbourbon
04-03-2006, 20:16
Of course, the aromatic and palate notes will differ from those of a wine, but at its best, the early (aka, 'cheesy gold') Wild Turkey 12yo can achieve something close to perfection.
The original Pappy 23 from Lawrenceburg comes to mind, also, as does the Evan Williams 15yo. On the rye front, the Rittenhouse 10yo BIB.
(Okay -- just remembered the 'Top 10' list from a few weeks ago, and reviewed my roster. I'm consistent, anyway. These are the first four I listed.)
Note to self: Interesting that, although I prefer wheaters for everyday imbibing, these are all rye-flavored.

barturtle
04-03-2006, 22:22
I nominate WL Weller 19

pepcycle
04-05-2006, 10:40
Whatever bourbon creates a miasma would probably have a diaphanous format, Right??:stickpoke:

TNbourbon
04-05-2006, 10:55
Whatever bourbon creates a miasma would probably have a diaphanous format, Right??:stickpoke:

Or would miasmatic fulsomeness overwhelm diaphanousness?:skep:

Gillman
04-05-2006, 11:09
My choice would be a bottle of FRSB that has been half-full for a while (so as to deepen even more in flavor). Perhaps one would replace the fruit references in Parker's "eloge" with violets and mint (which of themselves though would apply well to some other Cabs). Drinks differ but it is interesting how descriptions of the one can seem apt when applied to the other.

Gary

Gillman
04-05-2006, 11:13
Tim, I think you mean, miasmic half-fulsomeness. :)

Gary

Jake_Parrott
04-05-2006, 11:37
It struck me reading this it wasn't a bad description of a great bourbon.

There are some of us in the wine trade that think that Parker's idea of great wine has a similar alcohol level to some bourbons :D.

Jake_Parrott
04-05-2006, 12:01
Oh and Gary, what is the atomic number of Encomium? ;)

Gillman
04-05-2006, 12:13
I know the views of those who admire many of the super-Cabs are not shared by all. I am no wine expert so I can't really say, but I just like the way Parker writes about wine. I think I would share many of his opinions if I had more experience in wine tasting, I think I tend to see things his way. However I admire Jancis Robinson's writing too and she tends to reflect I think a typically British approach both in how she writes and the wines she likes (preferring e.g. wines not too extracted or high in alcohol). Parker is a very American writer and (perhaps because I am neither American nor English) I find much to like in both. At this level I find the writing of such authors educational and inspiring, even if I never taste most of what they write about!

Gary

Jake_Parrott
04-05-2006, 13:35
I can't stand the way Parker writes about wine. And I'm not talking about the scores or what wines he likes (I'm not a huge fan of those either, but that's not what I'm getting at here). Too many of his tasting notes read like laundry lists of nebulously related aromas and flavors. There's no real attempt at providing context for the wine in question (other than his occasional and ludicrous "mythical blends"). What results is that Parker's readers' understanding of wine does not increase--his notes become nothing more than Google search keys for specific flavors.

By not offering this context, Parker builds a culture of dependency around his writing. While that is good for his circulation and sales, it panders to the Coca-Cola stereotype of Americans by not making a case for exploring the world of wine.

Below, I've linked a short essay on blind tasting from one of my favorite wine importers, Joe Dressner. He explores some of these same topics (and others). Words to live by.

http://www.datamantic.com/joedressner/?1674

Gillman
04-05-2006, 15:51
What are the mythical blends, Jake?

Gary

Jake_Parrott
04-06-2006, 06:17
What are the mythical blends, Jake?

Oh occasionally (and only for wines with extremely high scores), Parker'll attempt to find context by saying stuff like (not exact quote) "like a blend of Chateau Latour and Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf" or something like that. It happens very, very rarely, rarely enough (maybe once a year) that it comes across as a caricature. The rest of the time, his writing is devoid of substantive context.

Gillman
04-06-2006, 08:13
Jake, thanks.

Have you ever sampled these prestigious Harlan Estate Cabernet-based blends? I understand some have been made with all-Cabernet. Or if not these, probably you have tried other super-Cabs in that class.

What do you think of them? Do you think they would improve with long aging? Parker seems to minimise the importance of aging for many wines (not all), he'll often say, this wine doesn't change much with aging (especially about certain Californian premium wines).

Gary

Jake_Parrott
04-06-2006, 11:20
If anything, I think Parker drastically overestimates the aging potential of many wines, particularly the Aussie and Spanish ooze monsters that garner major points.

I don't think I've ever had Harlan, but I've had several other "cult" Cabernets, and many of them are over-extracted and confected. There's little transparency, little expression of soil and site, just full-full-full-throttle, often too low acid, and often out of balance alcohol. A few of them can be glorious. But even when I have one of those, I don't feel like I can make a connection to the wine.

A broader example--Mr. Parker waxed incredibly poetic about the 2000 vintage in Bordeaux. I had the opportunity to taste about 80 top 2000 Bordeaux in 2002, just after bottling. Sure, many of the wines were awkward from recent bottling. But I took that into account, and I still found over half of the wines confected, inexpressive, too New World-ish, lacking florality, minerality, and acid.