As I read a few old wine-related articles on the Internet this past week, two things struck me. First is the continual discussion about ethics and disclosure by wine writers. I reread Dr. Vino's post examining how much Robert Parker, Jr. supposedly spends on wine each year for review in his Wine Advocate. The common theme in the comments thread and many other blog posts since was that most people don't care if writers receive free samples or even trips. The thing that readers want is transparency and disclosure of a publication's policies (and I include blogs as publications). If you accept wine, money or other "services" to publish, don't pretend that you don't. If a reviewer is honest about his or her relationship with the wines and wineries he or she reviews, consumers will be able to judge the content on its merits and not suspect a hidden nefarious agenda.
However, the other side of coin reveals that some people believe that bloggers are shills that only give positive reviews to keep receiving free samples. The argument is that you never hear critics bashing wines when they drink with the winemakers, or when we lowly bloggers receive samples. Some might even give good reviews to keep the samples coming and are afraid to admit they didn't like a wine. Well, I have no problem with doing so. A few weeks ago, I received a sample of Nine Walks Sauvignon Blanc from the Baddish Group in New York. I don't want to suggest that others won't like the wine, but I did not. In fact, a very similar sauvignon blanc was deemed best white at the NextGeneration Wine Competition. I did not like that New Zealand sauvignon blanc either. Actually, google the wine and you will find more than a handful of other bloggers that also posted (almost unanimously positive) reviews about the same samples. Both my wife and I barely could finish our glasses and we gave the bottle to my mother-in-law who did not find it as offensive. I'm sorry that I did not like the wine, but if a winery or public relations company wants my opinion, I'm going to give it.
Nine Walks Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
I love screw caps and this wine does not disappoint in the ease of opening. It pours a normal bright yellow color. Only when I put my nose in the glass do I begin to wonder if I will like the wine. The usual grass and lime aromas are quickly overpowered by lots of green pepper. Not bad in and of itself, but when all I can taste is acidic and unripe green bell pepper and bitter asparagus. I know that New Zealand sauvignon blancs are known for those traits, but I prefer more mineral and grapefruit flavors as opposed to unripe vegetables. I actually left my glass to sit for an hour with the hope that the greenness would blow off. Nope, still undrinkable. We put the remaining 3/4 of a bottle in the fridge knowing that my mother-in-law was coming over the next night. Now, she's not a wine drinker, but does enjoy a glass of vino here and there. I let her try a sip before pawning it off on her and her response was that she might be able to cook with it. I do not recommend this wine and in fact, this was probably one of the worst wines I've tasted in the past few months. But, like I said, others might like this grassy and green style (see NextGen Competition) so take my advice with a grain of salt. 12.7% alc Sample $11. Below Average