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As crazy as it sounds this actually happened.  It was reported in a column by wine writer Dennis Schaefer in our local newspaper, The Santa Barbara News Press, on October 7, 2010. It seems that wine critic Robert Parker comes to our area once a year to taste local wines.  Apparently he asks that “several hundred” wines be assembled in a hotel conference room so he can taste and rate the wines. Can you imagine “several hundred?” And out of this comes precise numbers for each wine!  Mr. Schaefer correctly states that this type of evaluation is inherently flawed.  Many really good wines can get lost because they are not as open or as big and alcoholic.  You see, according to Mr. Schaefer, the point is that the wines made by Larry Schaffer of Tercero Winery  “…are not over-ripe, and not necessarily fruit forward and in your face. They are serious wines that take time to develop in the bottle and in the glass.”  As a result, he says Larry Schaffer “got wounded in a drive-by sip and spit!”  Mr. Schaefer went on to say “I prefer to disagree with Mr. Parker, as do many of the participants on Internet wine discussion boards.”  He then reviewed all the Tercero wines with favorable comments. I have never tasted any wines from Tercero.  But based on Mr. Schaefer’s notes, I would be inclined to try the wines.  However, those who buy wines based on numbers probably won’t touch them.  You see, these wines  received comments described as “near venomous” and very low scores  in the drive-by.  And Mr. Schaefer’s favorite wine, Tercero 2007 Cuvée Christie Santa Barbara County, was the lowest scoring of all in the drive-by!  So there you have it. Don’t be too intimidated or influenced by numbers. It is always worth a look at what is behind the numbers and then taste and decide for yourself.  (In fact, in honor of the drive-by, the winery is offering a package of wines scoring 82 and lower!)  Remember you drink wine, not numbers.  And wine is all about personal taste.

In Vino Veritas,

John Tilson

email Dennis Schaefer @ food@newspress.com