Recently Jeff Leve described an experience with an '83 Margaux as: Tasted for the third time in two weeks. Each bottle has been different .....
Which lead me to a topic that I've been thinking about for some time now but never heard discussed. How wines bottled side by side and stored side by side can have very different flavor and aroma characteristics - a phenomenon that winemakers experience because we taste the same wines many times, but one most others may not - or may just shrug off as differences in how they were feeling that day or their day's changed "palate." But I don't believe those are what's at play. Now, I've never seen science/research on this topic and some of my more mystical winemaker brothers attribute the differences to phases of the moon or a host of different wooo-wooo factors, but I'm not quite that mystical. I just know it exists.
So why would anyone care? The question of bottle-to-bottle variation in wines really is about how wine reviewers or critics account for it in their ratings. How does one give a wine a 93 while the next reviewer gives it an 87? We usually say it's just the difference in the reviewer's palates, but is it really? Are both reviewers really tasting the SAME wine? Will the consumer be tasting the SAME wine as either of those reviewers if/when they purchase it? Is there a better way to review bottle variable wines than giving some simplistic score? How do we give "reliable guidance" to consumers when we're speaking of a product that varies in the very things consumers buy it for? Do we pretend bottle-to-bottle variation just doesn't exist? Should reviewers say how many separate times they've tasted a particular wine to arrive at their review? I'd love to hear thoughts from the wine community.