Following my very enthusiastic review of Arribes de Ventonia 2011, I snapped up the remaining bottles I could find, and also bought a few from the 2013 vintage, which was a slightly different cépage.
I tried the 2013 first, and it was not a patch on my previous experience. Fruit and oak, but none of the complexity of the 2011. Ah, well – it was after all a different wine. But last night I tried one of the more-recently-bought 2011 wines, and it reminded me more of the 2013 than my previous experience with the 2011. For both recent bottles, it was a *** rating rather than *****. Still not bad for a £9.00 bottle of wine, but not something to make me want to dash out for more.
Bottle variation or taster variation? Under most circumstances I would be very willing to accept that I am the most likely cause of inconsistency. But in this case the differences were so marked that I am leaning much more towards the bottle variation explanation. Maybe the 2011 wines were from different batches, or the storage conditions differed before the wines reached me? Not that I am suggesting there was any heat damage or similar – just that they happened to be not so good for these particular wines. The closure was not natural cork BTW, so a dodgy cork would not be an explanation.
What can we learn from this?
- This is the way things are for wine that are more interesting. We have to accept it.
- When I highlight a single wine in a blog post, it will be one I have tried on multiple occasions or one I have both tasted and drunk at least half a bottle of, with food where appropriate. Maybe I need to hold back on my opinions even more. Not that I feel guilty over this incident – I rarely review freebie bottles, and in this case I put my money where my mouth was to the extent that I doubt anyone else had chance to buy any.
- As a consumer of tasting notes, I shall be even more sceptical. And I recommend that attitude to you too.