Sunday, August 03, 2008

When Reviewing a $2,000 Bottle of Wine is Service Journalism

Why We Love the Wall Street Journal's Wine Column

A must-read for me every Friday in the Wall Street Journal is the wine column penned by the husband-and-wife team of Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher.
They're experts in a good way, telling us what we need to know without being in your face about it. They educate without teaching. And they've turned me on to some damned good wine that I otherwise wouldn't have known about.
Often, they'll spotlight vintages that not only taste great, but are a good value too. So, it was a bit hard to swallow on Friday, when they reviewed first-growth Bordeaux, like the iconic Chateau Latour, the 2005 vintage of which that goes for a mere $1,950.
That's a price that's hard to swallow, even for the Journal's well-heeled readership. Funny thing is, Gaiter and Brecher get out front and acknowledge just that.
"Is the 2005 Latour worth $1,950? As working stiffs, we can't imagine spending $1,950 on any bottle of wine."
Good for them. Nonetheless, they sip away on the Latour and some of its vaunted peers on Rupert Murdoch's dime instead of theirs. Talk about a dream job.
For the rest of us, if you can never hope to actually buy one of the wines, they allow us to become immersed in the fantasy of owning one.
However, while you'd think they'd be running to Roget's looking for new superlatives for these Bordeaux superstars, none of the wines they taste actually made them swoon, though the Latour came damn close.
One assessment may even create a PR nightmare for Chateaux Margaux, whose 2005 was rated "very good," by Brecher and Gaiter, but "just not very interesting."
And at $1,450 for a bottle, it can't afford to be boring.

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