"Beginners Versus Veterans
"

  by Fred McMillin


Prologue

The beginner, having fresh perception and an uncluttered vinous memory, frequently is more certain of himself and sometimes more accurate than a more experienced taster.

...Master of Wine Michael Broadbent, Wine Tasting


The Rest of the Story

Since the eminent expert Michael Broadbent has found beginners evaluations significant, I had 14 beginners evaluate the same 15 wines tasted by my Scott's Panel veterans.

 

Similarities
The two groups agreed on these points.

1. Best of Tasting
Both selected Cabernets as the two best wines of the tasting, although six other red-wine varietals were poured.

  • They agreed that Number One was the Michel-Schlumberger '94 Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, $20.
  • The beginners' No. 2 was Clos du Bois '94 Briarcrest Cab, $23.
  • The veterans prefered Washington State's Staton Hills '93 Cab, $16.

2. Second Best Red Varietal
Both groups' second best varietal was a Pinot Noir.

  • David Bruce's '96 Sonoma County Pinot, $20.

3. Best Buys
They picked the same two,

  • Bogle '96 Petite Sirah ($9) and
  • Sebastiani '93 Sonoma County Cab ($10).

4. Good Value
Both felt the Georges Duboeuf '97 Cru-level Regnie (ray-nyay) Beaujolais was well worth the $8. However, there were plenty of disagreements, too.

 

Differences

1. Best White
Naturally, the beginners and veterans agreed that the best white was one of the overwhelmingly-popular Chardonnays. WRONG!

  • The newcomers DID choose a Chardonnay as #1, the Peju Province, Napa Valley, $18.
  • But the Scott's team preferred the more exotic, intensely-flavored Rhone Roussanne by Sobon Estate, '97, $16.

2. Pink Wine
Beginners are charmed while experts scoff at pink wines. But not this time.

  • The Sobon "Rose Rhone", $9, was given higher ratings by the vets than the newcomers.

3. Inexpensive Reds
Similarly, you might expect the experts to condemn the inexpensive reds. But here are two rated substantially higher by the Scott's folks than the beginners...

  • Santa's Reserve Merlot, $7 (you'll see it in the shops this fall) and
  • Barefoot '96 California Zinfandel, $6.

 

Conclusion

So, if you have one of those "uncluttered vinous memories," you now know what to buy.

 

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