I’ve been enjoying wine for quite some time now. I remember back to my college years when I thought taking Franzia out of the box and carrying the bag around at parties was really clever. Thankfully, wine and I have evolved since then. Part of my wine routine is to go through the Wine Spectator buying guide for recommendations. At first I tried to buy the wines at local package stores but soon discovered many were not widely available. I quickly turned, like I do for most other things, to the internet. Now I’m subscribed to multiple liquor stores email newsletters and find my inbox filled with offers for deals like a “95 Point Chardonnay” and a “93 Point Estate Zinfandel”. The offers are tempting, they almost sound too good to be true. Last week I succumbed to the sweet, enticing email blast and bought four bottles of 2009 Alvarez de Toledo Mencia Roble, which was rated 91 Points by The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker. Sounded good to me!
Now that I’m a wine blogger, I’m starting to read other wine blogs. I happened upon 1 Wine Dude’s blog post today about wine scores. I thought it unfair of him to say that wine producers shouldn’t tout their scores. If the knowledge that someone who knows a thing or two about wine thought that this was a good one, why shouldn’t the consuming public be told? After all, evidence is relevant if it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence. FRCP 401. So, if it helps producers sell a few more bottles, or introduces a new customer to the wine, it seemed like sharing the scores should be a no-brainer.
After bringing the Alvarez de Toledo to dinner with friends and taking the first sip, I reconsidered my position on scoring. Drinking wine, after all, is such a subjective activity. Drink the same wine on two different days, with different food, with different people, and it will taste different. Take a sip of wine inside and then take a sip outside, it will taste different. Everyone’s palates are unique, so in theory, while a 1998 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild  may taste like a flowery glass of heaven to me, my drinking companion may find it harsh and dry.
Because I knew that someone had rated this particular wine a 91, I, perhaps unfairly, expected fireworks to explode in my mouth. That is not to say that this was a bad or unenjoyable wine, but knowing the score negatively impacted my expectations, and thus my experience. I’m certainly not advocating the demise of the wine rating system, nor would I fault a producer for touting a good score to its customers. My take away is that in the future I’ll be less apt to buy four bottles of a wine I’ve never tried based on someone else’s numeric assignment. Onto the review.
To: Alleged Blog Readers
Date: March 15, 2015
Wine: Alvarez de Toledo Mencia Roble 2009 Review
As I said, we brought this wine to dinner with friends. There was no breathing, no decanting, just popped the cork, poured and sipped. I do not have much experience with Spanish wines, and this may have been my first Mencia. On the nose I got hints of musty leather. The first sip was dry with very spicy undertones. This was a thinner wine that did not give you a big mouthful like the 6th Sense Syrah. Like the Chateau de Lavagnac Bordeaux, this wine greatly improved when enjoyed with food and I think the time it spent breathing as we socialized and ate helped it to relax, allowing for a smooth and enjoyable finish. Husband thought the wine was “young” and that it still had some aging to do in the bottle. I don’t know if I’m sophisticated enough to know what that means, but we’re going to put the remaining three bottles in the cellar and see what happens in two to three years. I’m going to put all my cards on the table here and tell you that I paid $7.99 a bottle. At that price point, you can’t go wrong because after ten minutes of breathing and paired with food, this was a very enjoyable wine.
The wine producer, Alvarez de Toledo, has a long family tradition of winemaking. I’m loving their coat of arms on the bottle. This bottle was 100% mencia grape, grown in the Bierzo region of Castilla Leon, Spain.
 And we all know, that means they usually are.
 Prior to writing this post I didn’t know who Robert Parker was or what the Wine Advocate was. From the email I received I assumed it was something similar to Wine Spectator. Turns out it’s this guy named Robert Parker’s wine review website.
 Meme originally published by 1WineDude.
 The 1998 scored 95 points according to Wine Spectator.
 Perhaps using a 1998 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild was not a good example. While I have not yet had the pleasure of imbibing such a treasure, from what I’ve heard, I don’t think any member of the human race could think it harsh or dry.
 I had to google this. I couldn’t figure out where the name of the winery ended and the name of the wine began. Mencia is a grape variety I had not previously heard of.
 Our host served a delicious spread of candied walnut spinach salad, peppers stuffed to the gills with rice, meat and cheese and fragrant garlic bread.
 Cellar is a fancy word for basement. We do have a wine rack though.