The Wierd Case of Palate Synchronization
I like counting. I like the simple, elegant, structured and definite results you get from counting.
Combine this counting fetish I have with my appreciation for criticism and you can understand why I like valuating various rating systems and results of wine rating systems.
Today for some reason I started thinking about the highest rated recently released wines in the world. That though brought me to The Wine Spectator Magazine where, using their database of wine ratings, I learned something I think is remarkable and that I did not know:
Kosta Browne is clearly one of the greatest wineries in the WORLD…according to the wine spectator. KB wines released from the 2000 to 2006 vintage have received 95 points or higher from the Wine Spectator no less than 13 times. 13 TIMES!! 13 DIFFERENT WINES
Only four other wineries in the world have achieve this or better: Chapoutier, Guigal, Kracher and J. Wegelen Erber.
I’d had Kosta Brown wines before. I just never formed an impression about them. So I went out and bought one: 2005 Kosta Browne Amber Ridge Pinot Noir–Russian River Valley. This wine as ranked 95 points by Jim Laube, who wrote:
"Dense and backward, this is tightly wound and structured, yet the core
of earthy cherry and wild berry is deeply concentrated, and the flavors
keep unfolding on the palate. Ends with firm tannins, but also a burst
of espresso-laced fruit. Drink now through 2011."
Now, I don’t know about 2011, but this wine tastes EXACTLY like Mr. Laube describes it. I wouldn’t have given this wine 95 points. But as many of you know I don’t review wines on this blog. So my score is another matter.
But what’s really interesting is this: Upon writing down my notes for this wine in my handy-dandy notebook, I went to the Wine Spectator site to look up the review printed above. Then I went back to my review in my note book. Check this out:
"Dense", "Tight" "heavy earth notes", "ripe cherry", "blackberry shell", "Tannic", "Coffee-finish"
Now compare those snippets from my notes with Mr. Laube’s….Is that weird or what?
I’ve actually never noticed my notes being SO perfectly aligned with those of any critic. Frankly it startled me and I started to consider notions of "base flavors", palate synchronization, and coincidence. I’ve met and spoken with with Jim Laube a number of times, but it’s not like we taste together on a regular basis, something that can result in palate synchronization.
I’ll be going back and looking at the notes I’ve taken for a number of other wines I’ve reviewed and compare them with reviews for the same wines by Laube and other critics. My initial suspicion is that I won’t find anything like this kind of identical description. But imagine if I did.
How amazingly useful would it be if one’s palate regularly tasted the exact same characteristics in a wine that a particular wine critic tasted? It would not matter at all if you APPRECIATED the same characteristics. Just being able to read a critics review and understanding it completely would be an enormous advantage when it came to buying wines you’ve never tasted yourself.