Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

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Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:05 pm

Castel Winery today sent out an email which reproduces Mark Squires most recent article in the Wine Advocate along with Squires' tasting notes for the Castel wines. The Castel tasting notes and scores can be seen at the link that follows. On the other link is a summary sheet of scores awarded in this most recent tasting.

The first Parker/Squires tasting, printed in the Wind Advocate in January, was discussed in some detail on the old forum at http://stratsplace.zeroforum.c...15923 ) and the more current tasting was discussed at http://stratsplace.zeroforum.com/zerothread?id=17348

During the first tasting 13 wines received scores of 90-93 points, that indicating wines of "outstanding wines of exceptional complexity and character" and 58 wines received scores of between 85-89 points, which refers to wines that are categorized as very good. In this more recent set of tastings, 3 wines earned scores of 90, 27 scored between 85-89; 8 between 80-84 and 2 between 70-75.

Tallying the scores and including both tastings:

Between 90-93 points: 16 wines
From 85-89 points: 95 wines
Below 85 points: 10 wines

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Rogov

Castel-Squires.JPG
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Israeli Scores 2.JPG
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:08 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote: the Wind Advocate

Wonderful Freudian slip! Please do not change it. :)
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:12 pm

One of those cases where the fingers go faster than the brain. LOL at myself but what the heck...I'll leave it in place. A good chuckle is worth a good chuckle.

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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Matt Walter » Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:48 pm

Hi Daniel!

On the second JPG, could you decode what "young, early or mature" means under the maturity column?

I assume that early means it should be cellared for a while, but am not sure...

Thanks!
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Billy M » Sun Aug 03, 2008 8:12 pm

Daniel, Hi
In the first jpg it lists the Castel C from 2000 and also says that all these wines are kosher. The 2000 C is also listed in the second jpg (though without the indication in each section that the wines are kosher). We all know that Castel went kosher beginning with the 02 Grand Vin and the 03 Petite and C - right?? :?:
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Gary J » Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:04 am

At one point in one of the prior discussions we were talking about the possible lowering of scores. It seems that this DID in fact happen. Are we to believe that tasting them NON-blind they warranted one score while tasting them blind they then deserved to have their scores lowered (as seems to be the case)???

Have we already discussed this to death??
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Daniel Rogov » Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:20 am

Matt Walter wrote: On the second JPG, could you decode what "young, early or mature" means under the maturity column? I assume that early means it should be cellared for a while, but am not sure...


That is the standard Parker notation and, to tell the truth, it has confused me as well for quite a few years.

Gary J wrote: At one point in one of the prior discussions we were talking about the possible lowering of scores. It seems that this DID in fact happen. Are we to believe that tasting them NON-blind they warranted one score while tasting them blind they then deserved to have their scores lowered (as seems to be the case)???


If that is indeed the case, there is a contradiction here as Parker has often said that when necessary the professional taster should be able to put his bias aside and judge entirely on the basis of the wine being tasted.


Gary J wrote: Have we already discussed this to death??


Good chance

Billy M wrote: In the first jpg it lists the Castel C from 2000 and also says that all these wines are kosher. The 2000 C is also listed in the second jpg (though without the indication in each section that the wines are kosher). We all know that Castel went kosher beginning with the 02 Grand Vin and the 03 Petite and C - right??


Indeed true. In 2002 Castel released both a kosher and non-kosher version of the Grand Vin. The kosher editions of the Petit Castel and the Chardonnay "C" were issued only in 2003.

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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Jonathan K » Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:54 am

Gary J wrote:At one point in one of the prior discussions we were talking about the possible lowering of scores. It seems that this DID in fact happen. Are we to believe that tasting them NON-blind they warranted one score while tasting them blind they then deserved to have their scores lowered (as seems to be the case)???

Have we already discussed this to death??


The second set of tastings by Mark Squires was done during his trip to Israel and was much more of a basic survey than the first. One would have expected the first set of scores to be higher because these wines were picked for him. Do you suppose that if Napa Valley were an unknown wine region and a group of wines were selected for a wine critic for a first tasting and then the critic went there himself/herself to do their own survey of a different set of wines that the scores would be the same?
And when has discussing something to death ever stopped us before? :D
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Yoni M » Mon Aug 04, 2008 11:03 am

I don't think that scores were "lowered"; that would be the case if those same wines from the first tasting were re-tasted and issued lower scores, which, at least for the 90+ point wines was not the case. Rather it appears that the pool for the second tasting merely contained fewer "standouts" than the first.
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Gary J » Tue Aug 05, 2008 1:43 am

Got it. Makes sense.

I think I may be confusing this with a discussion we had about scores being lowered. If I remember correctly it had something to do with the fact that wines were originally tasted un-blind (as there a word for that??) and then later tasted blind?

Or something about the first tasting being a preliminary tasting and the follow up a more official tasting???

Not sure what I am confusing here, but I have certainly confused myself...
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Birger Vejrum » Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:13 pm

Hi Daniel and all,

Do you find that Mark Squires is the right person to evaluate, make TN, visit producers etc. on wines from Israel? :roll:

Sure, MS can go where he wants, but it is not his TN I am looking for when I look for TN on wines from Israel.

Maybe it is just me.

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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Jonathan K » Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:36 pm

Birger Vejrum wrote:Hi Daniel and all,

Do you find that Mark Squires is the right person to evaluate, make TN, visit producers etc. on wines from Israel? :roll:

Sure, MS can go where he wants, but it is not his TN I am looking for when I look for TN on wines from Israel.

Maybe it is just me.

Ciao
Birger


Birger,
I personally welcome the notes, evaluations, and the desire to visit Isreali wine producers from somebody like Mark Squires. It offers the rather exciting prospect of a professional opinion from somebody outside the country that had no real prior experience with most of these wines. That kind of evaluation provides either a confirmation of what one sees from those more familiar with the Israeli wine scene or a disagreement. It also provides a new baseline for that given professional should he choose to review Israeli wines at another time. Do I now consider Mr. Squires as the "source" for Israeli wine knowledge? No. But to be fair, I have certainly found in the past a higher correlation with my tastes by some professionals than by others.
I considered starting a thread here on Israeli Cabernet Franc for that very reason. Certainly one of the losers of the recent Wine Advocate tastings was Israeli Cab Franc which Mr. Squires felt had a consistent "green" streak running through that was off-putting. I have tried only one and that was the Recanati Reserve CF 2004. I found nothing off-putting about this wine and liked it quite a bit more than some California CF. It had a strong sense of tobacco and bell pepper that I enjoyed although others at the table weren't as enthusiastic. Hard to judge by a survey of one, but perhaps those that were less enthusiastic about this wine might want to follow the Squires notes and avoid these wines while I may not.
Anyway, as far as I am concerned, the more professionals that want to taste and report on Israeli wine, the better. We can individually decide who better represents our tastes and whose drinking windows hold up better.
Best,
Jonathan
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:07 pm

Birger, Hi…..

I will not comment on Mark Squires ability to taste and evaluate wines because frankly I have no real measure of that, either to the positive or the negative. I cannot help but think though that your question is based on the fact that until recently Squires or, for that matter, Robert Parker and a great many of the serious critics of North America, have no working familiarity with the wines of Israel.

Not having a great familiarity with the wines of any wine growing region should not be a handicap to the professional and well-practiced critic and that because one measures all wines by a set of standards that crosses borders. In the case of varieties that are well known that is quite simple – making comparisons and adjustments for different areas (e.g. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay). In the case of varieties that are not well known (e.g. Arakseni, Drupeggio, Gouais Blanc), one can comfortably fall to standards of what balance, structure, flavors, aromas, purity, finish, etc should be.

As an example, you often ask for my tasting notes for the wines of Piemonte. I am indeed not a Piemontese, but do know the wines. And, if you were to ask for my tasting notes for the wines of Alto Adige, where my experience is less but still broad? Or of that of say the Georgian Republic?. Much depends here on how much you trust the overall experience, palate and abilities of the critic in question.

I would agree that travel articles written by people (including myself) who do not live in or are not fully familiar with a region can be somewhat tinged by "first impressions" and perhaps in that lack depth and have a rather "tourist-like" touch. With the competent professional, however, the same problem not be at all true for wines. Sheesh….. I even did a recent tasting of wines from Tadjikistan and, to tell the absolute truth, I have never even visited Tadjikistan. Further truth be told, after that tasting I even had to do quite a bit of research to learn about the indigenous grapes used. Despite that, I'll stand comfortably by my evaluations of those wines.

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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Ilan T » Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:15 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:Sheesh….. I even did a recent tasting of wines from Tadjikistan and, to tell the absolute truth, I have never even visited Tadjikistan. Further truth be told, after that tasting I even had to do quite a bit of research to learn about the indigenous grapes used. Despite that, I'll stand comfortably by my evaluations of those wines.


Hi Rogov,

Totally tangential, but I'd be interested in seeing your notes from your Tajikistan tasting. Would you be able to post them?

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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Sue Courtney » Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:56 pm

Hi Rogov,
I notice on your jpgs of the reviews and the scores that it doesn't mention Mark Squires, so does his name get lost in translation at some point so that in time the scores become 'Robert Parker' scores.
It happened in my niche part of the world with Neal Martin's reviews. In far too many instances his name was omitted altogether - and often by wine producers who should know better. To them RP's name definitely has more cachet than that of his reviewers at large.
I think this is a real shame.
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:00 pm

Totally tangential, but I'd be interested in seeing your notes from your Tajikistan tasting. Would you be able to post them?



Ilan, Hi....

Truth is I had never planned on publishing the following tasting notes. So long as asked, however…..

Best
Rogov

Kurgan Tyube, Rachuli Tetra, n.v.: Made from the indigenous Rachuli Tetra grape, a white wine, as clear and light as water in color, with a generous 18% alcohol content and with flavors that call to mind a cocktail of vodka and peach nectar. Served near-frozen acceptable but the moment it warms up calls to mind nothing more than a not-at-all well maintained cesspool. Unscoreable. (Tasted 11 May 2008)

Pamir, Shampani Tubik, n.v.: Made by the Charmat method from a blend of what is said to be Chardonnay and Rachuli Tetra grapes. On the nose and palate reminds of Diet Sprite plus a somewhat bitter licorice aftertaste. Unscoreable. (Tasted 11 May 2008)

Alada Sturi, Khatlon, 2005: A reinforced red-wine made in the style of Madeira. Dark amber in color with a hint of rusty brown, simple and alcoholic showing distinctly sweet caramel, butterscotch and sugared chestnuts. Score 65. (Tasted 11 May 2008)

Sharinov, Champanski, Khatlon, n.v.: Much as I recall sparkling wines from the former Georgian SSR, served from the freezer with generous ice already formed. Made by the Charmat method from Pinot Blanc and Semillon grapes, off dry, with fine bubbles, an abundance of acidity and lemon-lime aromas and flavors. When the last trace of ice in the bottle can no longer be seen the bottle is discarded and a new one presented as the wine develops a urine-like aroma as it warms. Score when served icy-cold 70; unscoreable and pretty much unspeakable when warm. (Tasted 11 May 2008)
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Aug 05, 2008 5:08 pm

Sue Courtney wrote: I notice on your jpgs of the reviews and the scores that it doesn't mention Mark Squires, so does his name get lost in translation at some point so that in time the scores become 'Robert Parker' scores.


Sue, Hi....

In the original article which appeared on-line at Mr Parker's site, Mark Squires byline was on the article and scores. Methinks you are correct in that it is more "convenient" for producers to sometimes quote E. Robert Parker than any of those who write with him these days.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons I liked it better when Parker himself was personally responsible for everything that carried his name.

C'est la vie. Tres triste.

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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:53 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:
Sue Courtney wrote: I notice on your jpgs of the reviews and the scores that it doesn't mention Mark Squires, so does his name get lost in translation at some point so that in time the scores become 'Robert Parker' scores.


Sue, Hi....

In the original article which appeared on-line at Mr Parker's site, Mark Squires byline was on the article and scores. Methinks you are correct in that it is more "convenient" for producers to sometimes quote E. Robert Parker than any of those who write with him these days.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons I liked it better when Parker himself was personally responsible for everything that carried his name.

C'est la vie. Tres triste.

Best
Rogov


Now I'm confused. In your column "Wine and Spirits / Critics' darling" at this link http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1009416.html, which popped up in one of my email alerts today, you say ...

"In recent months Israeli wines have become the darling of critics in the United States. Several months ago, for example, Robert Parker, by far the most influential wine critic in the world, tasted 90 Israeli wines. In his prestigious Wine Advocate he gave 13 of those wines scores of 90-93, reserved for wines of "exceptional complexity and character." Equally important, 58 wines received scores of between 85-89, putting them in Parker's ratings as "wines that are very good to excellent."


Mark Squires isn't mentioned in the article. Was this a different set of wines to those that Mark Squires tasted?
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Daniel Rogov » Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:58 pm

Sue, Hi.....

The original tasting, done in Baltimore, was done by Squires and Parker together. The later tasting, done during his somewhat later visit to Israel, was done exclusively by Mark Squires. As to precisely who gave scores and wrote notes, that remains somewhat clouded to all outside of the Parker-Squires-Et Al inner circle.

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Rogov

P.S. Glad to see you're reading HaAretz in the USA. My publisher, my editor-in-chief and my editor will all be happy. As am I.
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Re: Wine Advocate/Mark Squires on Israeli Wines

Postby Sue Courtney » Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:19 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:P.S. Glad to see you're reading HaAretz in the USA. My publisher, my editor-in-chief and my editor will all be happy. As am I.

Hi Rogov, I am quite far away from the USA. The Internet cuts out time and distance boundaries.
Your column headings come through on an email news feed that I subscribe to. I clicked on it because of who you are and admit I only read your column, not anything else in the newspaper.
Cheers Sue
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