When a more expensive wine fails, what does it do wrong?

Recently on another thread we were discussing how some more expensive wines can be massive failures and then this weekend, I opened 6 bottles with some cousins who aren’t big wine drinkers, to play Somify. None were very expensive, but the list is below with WA ratings in bold and the price I paid as well. The 2016 Maze was by far the most expensive at $65 out of the bunch of affordable wines and easily my least favorite of the night. Just way too sweet and overoaked for my palate.

So my 2 questions are:

Am I missing something on this WA 96 point Maze? Do others think this wine is great?


What is it that usually causes a “higher end” wine to completely fail? I’m sure there is a range of specific to philosophical answers on this and I am curious to hear all of them. Thanks in advance.

2016 Lodali Barolo Bricco Ambrogio 100% Nebbiolo Italy Piedmont Barolo, Roddi 93 $32.58
2017 Richard Rottiers Moulin-Ã -Vent Foudres 100% Gamay France Beaujolais Moulin-a-Vent 92 $14.99
2016 Maze Cabernet Sauvignon 100% Cabernet Sauvignon USA California North Coast, Napa Valley 96 $65.17
2013 Marques de Riscal Reserva 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano Spain Rioja $17.60
2015 Methven Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Citizen’s Cuvee 100% Pinot Noir USA Oregon Willamette Valley 91 $16.28
2018 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 100% Syrah Australia South Australia 93 $27.31

don’t judge a fish by how well it climbs a tree. or something like that.

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The cost of every element that goes into making that wine is probably a lot more than the others.
It’s appears to be prime Napa fruit with 100% FO and that formula appeals to a very big audience.

Sad to say, but these days, in the vast majority of cases, a cab that wins 96 points will be sweet and oaky. For my palate, I find points and price inversely related to qualify in cabernets.

(Was it actually Napa, or North Coast? You don’t usually see both of those on the label.)


This appears to be copypasted from CT or some other source, all of the other wines are listed in a similar way, unlikely to appear on the actual bottle label. For example Barolo doesn’t usually say Piedmont on the label and Moulin-a-Vent doesn’t usually say Beaujolais on the label.

I think an expensive wine can fail in all the ways that an inexpensive wine fails, it just tends to be a much bigger letdown when the expensive one does so.

a high price point definitely gives some expectation of the quality in the bottle but you can take a bunch of expensive ingredients, put them in an expensive bottle with an expensive cork and give it some expensive branding and still have a disappointing wine. you can also have a good wine that doesnt show well under a variety of circumstances.

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There are wines of many price points that will match your preferences, and also many that won’t. The trick is buying the ones you like.

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I would also say the price/value is worse in Napa than many other areas. So a $60 wine in Napa is middle of the road or less, while something half that price from
Spain or Oregon (probably even Piedmont) is likely much better on a relative cost basis.

And I’m saying this as someone who enjoys a fair amount of Napa wine.

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What is wrong is that you consider a wine’s score to be an OBJECTIVE indication of a wine’s qualify rather than one person’s SUBJECTIVE view of how much he or she likes the wine. My guess is that if you look at CellarTracker, for most wines there are scores 10-15 points apart. NOT EVERYONE LIKES THE SAME TYPES OF WINES.

Maybe it’s just me, but the main thing an expensive wine can do wrong is taste inexpensive.

Had you tasted the Maze before? If not what made you pick it? Price can’t compensate for a style you don’t like.

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Start scoring wines on Cellar Tracker and then you have a data base of wines you like or don’t like. As I have said a million times on here wine critics arein the business of giving high scores to keep the free wines coming in and the producers happy and hopefully they pick up a few subscribers along the way.

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Or, fail to excite. For me, One gauge of a wine is the first word out of ones mouth. Is it “wow”. Or “that’s nice”. And, are you discussing the wine (enthusiastically) two (or more) hours later?

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What did it do wrong? Nothing other than find the wrong drinker.

I suspect there’s a companion thread about cheap wines that taste great.
Not sure what ‘tastes expensive’ ( or inexpensive) means. For me it’s excitement, complexity and balance that a greAt wine should deliver.

James Suckling over rated it and we thought it would be great! neener

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The relationship between price and quality is unfortunately not linear. The only first growth I have ever tasted was a sad disappointment. 5th growths from the same vintage were far more pleasing to me. The lesson for me was to do more research, have faith in what I know I prefer, and don’t buy based on a label.

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Most of the information was populated from Wine Advocate. I do all of my cellar organizing in excel though, with CT as a guide for what to buying or even more so, what to open.

Reasons I typically dislike an expensive wine:

-not integrated: might be too young? Components fight with each other so it tastes like a monolithic, fuzzy storm of everything with no one discernible flavor.
-not balanced: something overpowers the rest of the wine. Often a heavy oak treatment that the wine’s fruit can’t balance out.
-style: there are different styles of the same wine. Some wineries make their Wines so ripe they have raisin notes & I find that off-putting while others prefer it.

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I certainly do not consider any rating objective. I do use ratings as a guide for wines that I have not tasted though. Generally I make note of how often my pallet agrees with a critic’s and if it happens often, I occasionally buy wines they suggest. I also agree about the massive range of perspectives, but what I am getting at here is more about what causes some wines that are more expensive to perform worse? Is it always just preference, or is there some other thing that some find underlying?