Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

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John Telford
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Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#1 Post by John Telford » November 20th, 2020, 7:42 am

I have been thinking about this a lot and would like the group think on the following:

One of the factors in my wine purchasing decision is trust. As a matter of fact, one of my “leaving” or “firing” decisions is break of trust (I recently left a mailing list because of this but that is another story). Part of enjoying a glass is knowing and trusting The Wine Maker.

This brings me to my BIG QUESTION. Why are Wine Makers so poor/reticent on/to updating their tasting notes. Yes, on release day a big note is posted…but then crickets. What I would really like to see is updates along the way. After year one….”this is how the wine is progressing”, “this is something that is developing that I did not expect”, “I would anticipate this happening”, “I think this wine is fading”, “I think……”

If anybody is able to rate or evaluate the wine shouldn’t it be the winemaker? Why don't they update their tasting notes? Would you trust/like your wine maker to provide ongoing tasting notes? Why do wine makers not do this? I would be particularly interested in any views from wine makers in the community as well as drinkers!

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#2 Post by Dan Hammer » November 20th, 2020, 7:54 am

Carlisle updates the notes on his website.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#3 Post by K Kl@dder » November 20th, 2020, 8:03 am

Probably like all of us, an issue of having the time to do so.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#4 Post by J. Rock » November 20th, 2020, 8:05 am

I think most wineries will give you their most recent impression of a wine if you contact them (and off the top of my head, I know Torrin sends emails providing updates on how all/most of their vintages are currently drinking). Perhaps wineries don't think there are enough people who care about yearly notes on older wines to justify tasting and posting notes on every one of their wines every year or so. I'm sure a lot of customers drink most wines relatively soon, so it might just not be worth the effort for the winery to tell the few hundred or so people that are interested how that [15] year old bottle is currently doing. This of course is just my speculation, so I'm interested to see what others have to say.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#5 Post by Mike Davila » November 20th, 2020, 8:17 am

Shaffer provides notes on its Hillside Select, by both Doug and Elias not sure about there other releases.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#6 Post by John Telford » November 20th, 2020, 8:30 am

J. Rock wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 8:05 am
I think most wineries will give you their most recent impression of a wine if you contact them (and off the top of my head, I know Torrin sends emails providing updates on how all/most of their vintages are currently drinking). Perhaps wineries don't think there are enough people who care about yearly notes on older wines to justify tasting and posting notes on every one of their wines every year or so. I'm sure a lot of customers drink most wines relatively soon, so it might just not be worth the effort for the winery to tell the few hundred or so people that are interested how that [15] year old bottle is currently doing. This of course is just my speculation, so I'm interested to see what others have to say.
This is a good point......and yet it is a selling point that they are making when they sell the wine. How many times do you read the initial tasting note that says "this is a wine with great aging potential"? If none of their customers are keeping them....they should stop making them that style lol.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#7 Post by John Telford » November 20th, 2020, 8:33 am

Dan Hammer wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 7:54 am
Carlisle updates the notes on his website.
Carlisle updates the end drinking note (which is beyond what most are doing), but does not update notes as far as i can see.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#8 Post by Markus S » November 20th, 2020, 8:35 am

Many wineries do not keep a stash of their wines around, so therefore have no library to check on older bottles with. Most simply want to sell out of every vintage for financial reasons.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#9 Post by John Telford » November 20th, 2020, 8:38 am

As a subsequent add on question......Do you trust the wine makers notes that you buy from over a wine rater?

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#10 Post by John Telford » November 20th, 2020, 8:45 am

Markus S wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 8:35 am
Many wineries do not keep a stash of their wines around, so therefore have no library to check on older bottles with. Most simply want to sell out of every vintage for financial reasons.
Being slightly provocative. Then how the hell do they say with any reasonable confidence how their wine will evolve. I personally don't buy into the fact that they don't keep any back vintage (5 bottles) to track and learn from.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#11 Post by Alex Valdes » November 20th, 2020, 9:12 am

I was a dinner once and Louis-Michel was asked a similar question about notes on his wines. His answer was basically “I am a wine maker not a wine writer. I focus on making wine that tastes good; that I would want to drink. Let someone else worry about how describe it”.

I know this is not exactly what you are asking, but a sense I get from wine makers is writing about their wine is not a priority.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#12 Post by R. Frankel » November 20th, 2020, 9:15 am

John Telford wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 8:38 am
As a subsequent add on question......Do you trust the wine makers notes that you buy from over a wine rater?
All tasting notes have human subjective biases. Wine makers’ biases about the products they they have worked so hard to produce are perhaps a little more obvious than a reviewer’s. But their descriptions of their own wines potentially have lots of useful information. There are some winemakers whose comments are gibberish, marketing speak, or unduly hype filled. But most of the small, conscientious producers have useful notes.

The key is to read the notes over time and get your own understanding of the POV of the writer so you can extract the information you want. There is no absolute answer - trust must be earned.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#13 Post by Jeff_M. » November 20th, 2020, 9:20 am

I like the notes that Epoch Estate provides with their releases. I definitely agree that getting feedback from the winemaker on the wines and their thoughts on drinking windows is a plus for us as customers.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#14 Post by Jim F » November 20th, 2020, 9:25 am

Larkmead updates it’s “Library” notes annually of all wines produced, I believe.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#15 Post by Dan Hammer » November 20th, 2020, 9:49 am

Besides notes posted here, I follow Cellartracker notes on wines I own.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#16 Post by Jim Stewart » November 20th, 2020, 10:04 am

As Bill Belicheck might say if he were a winemaker: "We're on to the next vintage!" [cheers.gif]
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#17 Post by Alex Valdes » November 20th, 2020, 10:06 am

Listening to Jeremy Seysses on 2014 Dujac MSD right now (he’s doing a webinar) - really helpful perspective.

He also said 13 and 8 are contemporary 93s

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#18 Post by Paul Gordon » November 20th, 2020, 10:09 am

I use Cellartracker for updates on our wines particularly earlier in their life.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#19 Post by blarmston » November 20th, 2020, 10:22 am

It would be a smart marketing strategy for them to provide updated TN's. Most wineries do not unload their entire inventory vintage in and vintage out. And by providing updates to their mailing list or members, it would spark some of those folks to inquire about purchase. Wineries win with incremental sales, and wine lovers win by gaining an evolving understanding of the wines they own.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#20 Post by John Telford » November 20th, 2020, 10:27 am

blarmston wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:22 am
It would be a smart marketing strategy for them to provide updated TN's. Most wineries do not unload their entire inventory vintage in and vintage out. And by providing updates to their mailing list or members, it would spark some of those folks to inquire about purchase. Wineries win with incremental sales, and wine lovers win by gaining an evolving understanding of the wines they own.
This is my feeling...and funny enough they are doing it on ZOOM.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#21 Post by John Telford » November 20th, 2020, 10:29 am

R. Frankel wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 9:15 am
John Telford wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 8:38 am
As a subsequent add on question......Do you trust the wine makers notes that you buy from over a wine rater?
All tasting notes have human subjective biases. Wine makers’ biases about the products they they have worked so hard to produce are perhaps a little more obvious than a reviewer’s. But their descriptions of their own wines potentially have lots of useful information. There are some winemakers whose comments are gibberish, marketing speak, or unduly hype filled. But most of the small, conscientious producers have useful notes.

The key is to read the notes over time and get your own understanding of the POV of the writer so you can extract the information you want. There is no absolute answer - trust must be earned.
This goes back to the trust equation. And I get more gibberish, market speak, and hype fill from the raters (most of whom I don't trust).

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#22 Post by Markus S » November 20th, 2020, 11:35 am

John Telford wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:29 am
R. Frankel wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 9:15 am
John Telford wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 8:38 am
As a subsequent add on question......Do you trust the wine makers notes that you buy from over a wine rater?
All tasting notes have human subjective biases. Wine makers’ biases about the products they they have worked so hard to produce are perhaps a little more obvious than a reviewer’s. But their descriptions of their own wines potentially have lots of useful information. There are some winemakers whose comments are gibberish, marketing speak, or unduly hype filled. But most of the small, conscientious producers have useful notes.

The key is to read the notes over time and get your own understanding of the POV of the writer so you can extract the information you want. There is no absolute answer - trust must be earned.
This goes back to the trust equation. And I get more gibberish, market speak, and hype fill from the raters (most of whom I don't trust).
Sometimes a good retailer and seller can be the best and most honest source for wine knowledge, but only if they know your tastes & openness.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#23 Post by John Telford » November 20th, 2020, 11:46 am

Markus S wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 11:35 am
John Telford wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 10:29 am
R. Frankel wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 9:15 am


All tasting notes have human subjective biases. Wine makers’ biases about the products they they have worked so hard to produce are perhaps a little more obvious than a reviewer’s. But their descriptions of their own wines potentially have lots of useful information. There are some winemakers whose comments are gibberish, marketing speak, or unduly hype filled. But most of the small, conscientious producers have useful notes.

The key is to read the notes over time and get your own understanding of the POV of the writer so you can extract the information you want. There is no absolute answer - trust must be earned.
This goes back to the trust equation. And I get more gibberish, market speak, and hype fill from the raters (most of whom I don't trust).
[/quote

Sometimes a good retailer and seller can be the best and most honest source for wine knowledge, but only if they know your tastes & openness.
Thanks, I think we got off track. Just trying to understand why wine makers don't post tasting notes on their wines as they develop with commentary. I think this would be very helpful and appreciated. Especially because most of us buy off of mailing list from winemakers we think highly of or or interested in.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#24 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » November 20th, 2020, 11:29 pm

John Telford wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 8:45 am
Markus S wrote:
November 20th, 2020, 8:35 am
Many wineries do not keep a stash of their wines around, so therefore have no library to check on older bottles with. Most simply want to sell out of every vintage for financial reasons.
Being slightly provocative. Then how the hell do they say with any reasonable confidence how their wine will evolve. I personally don't buy into the fact that they don't keep any back vintage (5 bottles) to track and learn from.
I would guess that the vast majority of Willamette Valley wineries have some amount of bottles in library. Some more and some less, but I have at least 5 bottles left of nearly everything. I keep only a case or two of a few cuvees, but most it’s 5-50 cases.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#25 Post by Mel Knox » November 21st, 2020, 12:18 am

Speaking of Oregon I remember Dave Lett telling me he was amazed other wineries did not keep older vintages of pinot gris around.
I feel safe in saying that if you went to Eyrie at three in the morning Dave's ghost would find you an older bottle of a Pinot from the Eighties.
Dave also gave me my favorite what to drink with suggestion. He said to pour the wine over my girlfriend's body and lick it off.

Au Bon Climat has 5000 cases of older wine in their library. I asked Jim if he needed help in emptying some of the bottles and he said he did not have enough.

Methinks many winemaker notes would be too technical and critical for public release. It is always easy to think of how one could have done better.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#26 Post by John Telford » November 21st, 2020, 4:34 am

Mel Knox wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 12:18 am
Speaking of Oregon I remember Dave Lett telling me he was amazed other wineries did not keep older vintages of pinot gris around.
I feel safe in saying that if you went to Eyrie at three in the morning Dave's ghost would find you an older bottle of a Pinot from the Eighties.
Dave also gave me my favorite what to drink with suggestion. He said to pour the wine over my girlfriend's body and lick it off.

Au Bon Climat has 5000 cases of older wine in their library. I asked Jim if he needed help in emptying some of the bottles and he said he did not have enough.

Methinks many winemaker notes would be too technical and critical for public release. It is always easy to think of how one could have done better.
I think you above comment, "would be too technical and critical for public release. It is always easy to think of how one could have done better.", is probaby correct. But as a long term patron/customer it sure would be "fun" to get these insights. Maybe I have just gotten tired of the "marketing spin" and would just like to get more insights over time from the artisans.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#27 Post by John Telford » November 21st, 2020, 4:36 am

John Telford wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 4:34 am
Mel Knox wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 12:18 am
Speaking of Oregon I remember Dave Lett telling me he was amazed other wineries did not keep older vintages of pinot gris around.
I feel safe in saying that if you went to Eyrie at three in the morning Dave's ghost would find you an older bottle of a Pinot from the Eighties.
Dave also gave me my favorite what to drink with suggestion. He said to pour the wine over my girlfriend's body and lick it off.

Au Bon Climat has 5000 cases of older wine in their library. I asked Jim if he needed help in emptying some of the bottles and he said he did not have enough.

Methinks many winemaker notes would be too technical and critical for public release. It is always easy to think of how one could have done better.
The lick off the girlfriend quote is priceless btw!

I think your above comment, "would be too technical and critical for public release. It is always easy to think of how one could have done better.", is probaby correct. But as a long term patron/customer it sure would be "fun" to get these insights. Maybe I have just gotten tired of the "marketing spin" and would just like to get more insights over time from the artisans.

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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#28 Post by Brian Tuite » November 21st, 2020, 8:17 am

Most of the wineries I purchase from are small and don't have library wines to sell so putting together library notes is kinda moot. For me, following the wine after purchase and making up my own mind based on my palate is part of the fun of buying/collecting/enjoying wine. YMMV.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#29 Post by Uli K. » November 21st, 2020, 4:29 pm

I just looked up the tech sheet for the 2010 Virage red blend I’m about to open, and saw that Emily Richer is updating tasting notes even for her library vintages. I do appreciate the guidance, especially for single bottles that I can’t follow over time.
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#30 Post by Mel Knox » November 24th, 2020, 3:52 pm

Another favorite winemaker quote comes from John Williams of Frog's Leap, who said to me something like 'I told my staff they can criticize our wine before it is bottled and after it is sold, but in between those times it is the greatest example of that variety every made'
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Re: Wine Maker Tasting Notes or lack there of.....why

#31 Post by John Telford » November 25th, 2020, 4:08 am

Uli K. wrote:
November 21st, 2020, 4:29 pm
I just looked up the tech sheet for the 2010 Virage red blend I’m about to open, and saw that Emily Richer is updating tasting notes even for her library vintages. I do appreciate the guidance, especially for single bottles that I can’t follow over time.
This is great. I will go look. But i still want more....for example "in this vintage/vineyard I changed/or experimented with X, that is what now is resulting in Y"

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