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james laube's wine flights

A Chardonnay Shocker From the California State Fair

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Jun 27, 2007 12:25pm ET

During yesterday’s blind tasting in Napa, amid a flight of sumptuous 2005 Sonoma Coast Chardonnays from the likes of Paul Hobbs and Chasseur, came a news flash across my computer screen.

Glad I was sitting down.

Two-Buck Chuck, less known by its formal name of Charles F. Shaw, was judged the best Chardonnay from California at the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, held in Sacramento. The 2005 Two-Buck, with a California appellation, goes for $1.99 in California and a dollar more elsewhere. It's only sold at Trader Joe's.

I know what you’re thinking because I’m thinking the same thing. How can this be? What’s next? Forrest Gump for president? Aliens plan to spring Paris Hilton from the joint? The moon really is a big wedge of green cheese?

Since the state fair uses wine professionals as judges and the wines are tasted blind, the results stand on their own. Some 270 Chardonnays from 2005 were evaluated, so Two-Buck had plenty of competition.

Still, I’m wondering if this bottling of Two-Buck is really that good. Or whether, more likely, that this is a result of a clean, fruity, non-oaked Chardonnay that has enough appeal to win the approval of a panel of judges?

There’s no question that for many critics, too many Chardonnays are too oaky and there are questions about whether the wines are true to their appellations. Or whether, in the extreme, all Chardonnays taste alike, in which case it’s conceivable that Two-Buck could emerge a winner.

If you’re wondering why this matters, well, here’s why. Think what you may about a $1.99 wine, but Two-Buck is impacting the market. It has sold 300 million bottles in five years and it continues to put downward pressure on wine prices, and at the end of the day, that’s great news for wine drinkers.

Think it’s not popular? Check out a Trader Joe’s this weekend and watch as people wheel out shopping carts loaded with cases.

Amy Gardner
Sacramento, CA —  June 27, 2007 1:12pm ET
Wow Jim, I can't believe it. I'm very happy for Fred Franzia and his company. He's brought good tasting, inexpensive wine to the masses. This can only help the wine industry by allowing new people to learn to enjoy wine.

I've tried my fair share of Two Buck Chuck, and always see it in my friends' pantries. I've graduated on to more unique brands and, unfortunately for my savings account, more expensive wines. I've also tasted my fair share of terrible expensive wines and am glad that Charles Shaw offers a consistent, reliable product for consumers at $2 a bottle.

When I was at Trader Joe's recently I saw a man who hadn't heard of the brand spy the display, and he remarked to his wife, "Wow, only $2, let's try it." I'm sure they had a great dinner and enjoyed a good glass of wine with it. What could be better?
Mark Lewis
Napa —  June 27, 2007 1:37pm ET
James,You never said what you think of the "two buck" chardonnay. Other than the value that is.
David A Zajac
June 27, 2007 1:54pm ET
All I can say is ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa! Take that Helen Turley, Paul Hobbs, Sir Peter Michael, Mark Aubert and Greg Kistler, beaten by Chuck! Next year we need to throw in Coche, Leflaive, Lafon, Jadot, Ramonet and Raveneau - only then will I believe the results.
James Laube
Napa, CA —  June 27, 2007 2:03pm ET
Mark, Haven't tried this wine or vintage yet, but have reviewed the wines in the past and most of the wines have been good...nothing more.
Andrew J Walter
Sacramento,CA —  June 27, 2007 2:11pm ET
I've had this wine as well. Its nice, fruity, clean but certainly not great (its really not even good). This reminds of the Delicato Shiraz fiasco a few years back at the State Fair (best of show...remember). I bought a bottle from the Nugget the next day and we had it with dinner that night...its was absoulte vile swill (so much VA that it tasted of rubbing alcohol). So I figured that I got a bad bottle and bought another one. It was, if anything, even worse. I do not know whether the Delicato people were pulling a fast one (submitted only the best barrel of wine to the fair) or the judges had simply lost their collective tasting minds from too many samples, but that was one bad wine. The 05 2BC Chard, while not vile swill, is not up to the standards of the other 05s and I doubt it will do well in blind WS or WA tastings. This is why I never believe County Fair medals (unless my home wine does well in the OC fair...).
Frank Pipgras
Sacramento, California —  June 27, 2007 2:37pm ET
I attended a small non-profit event two weeks ago and all they were serving was two buck chuck. I tried a glass of the merlot and was pleasantly surprised. It was clean and the variety came through in the taste. No complaints from anyone sitting around me.
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  June 27, 2007 2:43pm ET
Looking to see if this post is back dated to April 1st.....still looking...
John Gavin
CA —  June 27, 2007 2:48pm ET
If it was $5 Chuck like Santa Barbara Landing, I might almost believe that a bizarre nexus of palate fatigue, inexperienced judges, and disparate winemaking styles could have this happen, but, as a self-professed expert on cheap Trader Joe's swill, including all things Bronco, (check out http://quaffability.com) I have a hard time believing that $2 buck could compete with real wines under any set of conditions. Perhaps a few, um, carefully selected bottles made their way to the competition.
Powell Yang
Napa, —  June 27, 2007 2:49pm ET
Personally, I've not ever been high on any of these State Fair and sorts wine competition. A panel of judges with few if any well qualified evaluators does not provide enough merit for the competition.In fact, I am quite confident that I, without any winemaking training can follow the directions and make a barrel of wine that can win a medal or few at various state fairs. That's how much I buy into these published results.
Bernard J Finnegan
Alameda, CA, USA —  June 27, 2007 2:59pm ET
We did a blind red wine tasting several years ago with a group of 20 friends. The only rule was that the wine had to cost less than $20. At the end of the day the Shaw Cabernet came in second to a Mondavi Napa Cab.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  June 27, 2007 3:16pm ET
To a person, my friends have taken delight in mocking Two-Buck Chuck in my presence only to find themselves being reminded that the wines have not only found a place in my cellar (for short-term drinking & cooking) but were also amassing some critical acclaim. This latest finding only validates this and I think it's wonderful. I will still continue to enjoy my $50 Chards because 2-buck will never get to that transcendent experience they provide, but when I can cook with a wine that I will drink as well, hey, that's Nirvana....
Loren Lingerfelter
Danville, CA —  June 27, 2007 3:36pm ET
"All I can say is ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaa! Take that Helen Turley, Paul Hobbs, Sir Peter Michael, Mark Aubert and Greg Kistler, beaten by Chuck! Next year we need to throw in Coche, Leflaive, Lafon, Jadot, Ramonet and Raveneau - only then will I believe the results."I doubt those wines were at the state fair pal.....sorry.
Jamie Sherman
Sacramento —  June 27, 2007 4:17pm ET
I can see it now. Charles Shaw Chardonnay 2005 Wine Spectator Wine of The Year! Really though, I have casually met some "wine experts" who sit on the judging panel at these events and if you met them, they would probably not strike you as an expert. They certainly love wine and may drink lots of it, but it doesn't mean they have a broad range of of wine experience. They may drink lots of Sierra Foothills Zin but never tasted a classic California Cab. This combined with the fact that many "Gold Medal Winners" just aren't very good has lead me to agree with many others in this blog. I just don't trust medals at state fairs or local tasting competitions.
Ready Family Wines
Healdsburg, Ca —  June 27, 2007 5:44pm ET
It seems as those the Wine competitions have been a bit off as of late. Check out the Sauvignon Blanc results from the recent LA wine competition. Those also were a bit strange.
Elyse J Ward
Buffalo Grove, IL —  June 27, 2007 5:56pm ET
As with many cheap wines, the last time I had a TBC I ended up with a blistering headache - and it wasn't caused by over-consumption, trust me. Fortunately, a bottle of Rombauer doesn't have the same impact. Perhaps these state fair "judges" rushed through the wine segment of the fair on their way to name the "best in breed" in the junior pig competition.
John Miller
Windsor, CA —  June 27, 2007 6:34pm ET
James,Please note that Fetzer Gewurztraminer won best white wine last year at the CA state Fair. You can't seriously tell me that that wine is anything but sugary, flabby swill. There's nothing wrong with two-buck chuck for two bucks, but the fact that it beat out Paul Hobbs says more about the CA state fair judging than the wine.I think as a whole judging panels are flawed; too many judges, too many wines.
Robert Fukushima
California —  June 27, 2007 8:03pm ET
The thing I have noticed is that many of the California State Fair winners are wines that are meant to drink now, right now, and not have any time laying down. I have suspected for some time that many of the judges are looking for the thing that stands out, not so much the best wine, or incredible potential, just the thing that tastes different that is drinking well now. I have found some wines I really enjoy that happened to be Fair winners, but, they are not the ones I will pay big bucks for.
John Miller
Windsor, CA —  June 27, 2007 8:06pm ET
There is another possible explanation for inexplicable judging. It is possible for a winery to source some top notch fruit...say russian river chard from a reputable grower. Then make 100 cases and label it with a California Appellation under the same brand name as the cheap wine and submit it to competitions. As far as I know, this would not violate any labeling laws and there would be no practical way to distinguish the two wines. I am not saying this is the case with two-buck chuck. I am just saying it is possible that this happens.
Tim Mc Donald
Napa,CA —  June 27, 2007 8:23pm ET
Jim, Good blogs generate good banter and the fact that a good wine wins a "Best of" in addition to a Double Gold at the California State Fair is amusing. I agree with you that the winner is the wine consumer and like you, I have not tasted this wine. Just so all that comment know, all the wine judges are required to pass a reasonably difficult wine exam at UC Davis before they are considered to be added to the pool of wine judges. They are placed in panels of 4 and do not know price, brand, region and are evaluated frequently to make sure they are competent. Some do not return as they are invited by the chief judge each year. A category like Chardonnay is quite large (351 total) and there is no bias just like at Wine Spectator's blind-tastings. A Double Gold simply means that a panel unanimously liked the wine enough to award it a gold medal. 2 panels awarded 2 wines a double-gold and together they picked the "Best of". Maybe they were a little stingy this year as one would think there could have been more than 2 examples to pick from out of so many entered. Anyone who would like to witness the process is welcome to attend next year. If you wish to taste all the Gold medal winning wines, the California State Fair holds a tasting next month Thursday the 12th in Sacramento at CalExpo & you can judge for yourself. You got to hand it to the winemaking team for coming up with a fruit forward, oak-free, balanced, likable wine...300 million bottles the past 5 years isn't anything to sneeze at. I too agree with Jim that these wines are good although not great, but hey, check out the price...a wine you can buy by the case for Monday through Thursday occasions or...when the in-laws drop in unexpectantly.and another thing, wouldn't Forest Gump be an improvement?
James T Vitelli
Connecticut —  June 27, 2007 8:46pm ET
No offense James, but unless and until I know what the competition was at the State Fair, this report means nothing to me. Not knocking $2BC, but if it beat a bunch of 100,000 case $7 bulk wines, what's the big deal? If it beat Kistler, Aubert, Marcassin, Rochioli, Kongsgaard, Peter Michael, L'Angevin, Ramey, Lewis and the like, then we have ourselves a story. Can you illuminate or supply a link?
James Laube
Napa, CA —  June 27, 2007 8:52pm ET
James, briefly, as I'm headed out for the night...I'm sure all of the wines were submitted by wineries and none of the wines you mentioned would have been included. The results will be announced on July 12.
Roy Piper
Napa, CA. —  June 27, 2007 8:55pm ET
These results are absurd.
Charles J Stanton
Eugene, OR —  June 27, 2007 11:24pm ET
I don't think the point is to compare 2BC to Marcassin. Even if the judges took momentary leave of their senses, it is still noteworthy that the wine was even in the running. There is an ocean of innocuous $15-20 chard out there that people willingly buy, so why not pay only two Washingtons for the experience instead. Even if all it is, is a gateway drug to better wines, why not?
John Gavin
CA —  June 27, 2007 11:57pm ET
Exactly my point, John Miller, though perhaps I made it too obtusely.
George Pallas
Arcadia, Ca —  June 28, 2007 12:33am ET
My hat is off to Two buck Chuck. Some of the wines are really really good that Bronco makes. Trader Joe's had a Broncho wine called Alexander Fitch Cabernet from Alexander Valley and sold it for $5.99, the 03 really tasted like a $30+ bottle, the 04 and 05 are a bit tight though. In fact I tried the 03 against an 03 Cliff Lede Stagecoach Cabernet last night and it came close to the Lede, and JL you know Lede is top notch stuff by your repeated 90+ ratings of their wines.
John Miller
Windsor, CA —  June 28, 2007 1:28am ET
John Gavin, (lol) it was I who was being obtuse. Ah well, it would seem that great minds, or at least cynical ones, think alike.>Charles Stanton, the answer to your question is that its a competition. They wouldn't give a gold medal in the Olympic Marathon to a fat guy with asthma just because he shocked everyone by managing to cross the finish line ;^) Let's face it, 2BC, whatever it is, is bulk juice from all over the state thrown into a big vat and packaged in cheap glass and shipped out in a hurry. While there may be insipid wines for 15$ out there, there are a lot of small wineries that put effort into making quality wines at that price point, and spend a lot of money entering these competitions. What's the incentive to strive for excellence when mediocrity is awarded?
David A Zajac
June 28, 2007 6:10am ET
Seriously, if this were April 1st I would think its a joke, my previous post was meant to be mocking, not serious. I have tried the 2BC wines before, from the Chard, SB, Cab, Syrah and Merlot and found them all "drinkable" except for the Merlot. But to even insinuate that these are anything more than mediocre is ridiculous - winning a competition, the judges should be forced to drink this stuff for the rest of their lives.
George Fischer
Cleveland, Ohio —  June 28, 2007 9:59am ET
It's so funny to me how some of the wine "experts" posting on this message board are so quick to slam tbc - as if anything that can't score 90+ points in WS or that costs under $30.00 a bottle is "undrinkable swill." (What's more, I bet that most of the people who are quick to slam tbc have never - as a matter of personal principal - even bothered to taste it!) I generally think that a true wine fan can, at least conceptually if not actually, appreciate a simple, clean $2.00 Chardonnay for what it's worth w/out feeling the need to bash it or immediately compare it to a bottle of Kistler that costs approx $90.00. Indeed, what¿s the point of comparing tbc to the top flight California chardonnays? Of course the Kistler will be technically better and more sophisticated (and it d#&m well should be at that price!) But here¿s my questions to all of you who slam tbc and specifically the 2005 tbc chardonnay ¿ why does the thought of a simple, cheap, completely average (or slightly above average) but totally drinkable wine offend you so much? If anything, a wine like tbc is great because it introduces people to the world of wine who may otherwise think that wine is, by necessity, inaccessible and overpriced.Is tbc a wine that you will think back on years from now as a transcendent masterpiece? No. But frankly, to bash a wine for its name and its price says more about the commentator (i.e. enormous ego, pretentious snob, etc.) than it says about the wine.
Hugh L Sutherland Jr-m
miramar beach, fl —  June 28, 2007 10:04am ET
First, living in Florida, I can't get the wine to my disappointment. I would love to get some.Second, all of those who blast the judges decision and have tried the wine, need to taste it along with several others blind. To buy this wine and visually compare it with a more expensive wine isn't fair. It is impossible for our brains not to immediately tell us that the more expensive wine has to be better. I would think that these judges are honest, hard working wine lovers who will stand behind their decision. It will be interesting to see how it compares in another of the many tastings that are held each year. I would think that every judge will wonder about their decisions in these tastings.Last, any stock available in this company?
Sean Fox
Chicago, IL —  June 28, 2007 10:14am ET
To be able to purchase a white wine for $3, cook with it and also be able to drink it and actually enjoy it, is remarkable. I bought some last night based on this blog and it really is pretty decent. I've had much, much worse.
Brandon Redman
Seattle, WA —  June 28, 2007 10:40am ET
While I haven't had the 2005 2BC, I can say that I'm probably going to go buy a bottle and try it out. I'd also like to know more about how these wines were scored. If, for example, two judges gave very high marks to a particular wine, and four other judges gave very low marks to the same wine, it wouldn't do well in the overall "net" score. However, if every single judge said a wine was "okay" and rated it as such (in this case, maybe 2BC?), it could end up doing very well in comparison. Perhaps it was a case of some of the more highly-regarded wines being extremely dividing within the judges, but the 2BC was "okay" by all and achieved a higher ending placement. Maybe?
David Kenney
New Orleans, LA —  June 28, 2007 11:00am ET
I have to question the method of tasting and judging these wines. I know another similiar tasting event where the Best Chardonnay was Rex Goliath for the last 2 years, while competing against many of the greats of CA. At this tasting, the judges are wine professionals, but they don't get to taste all of the Chardonnays for comparison. So if they taste something that stands out from the few Chardonnays they have tried, it gets a medal. How you can vote something the best without comparing it against ALL of the entries amazes me? Perhaps a similiar, flawed format was used? I know it might take a few days to sample and compare 350 Chardonnays, but with good notes you could easily find the best this way.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  June 28, 2007 11:55am ET
Wasn't anyone impressed by the WS article about Charles Shaw? These are pretty amazing ratings for $2 wines:
Chardonnay California 2005 83 $2
Sauvignon Blanc California 2005 80 $2
Merlot California 2004 77 $2
Cabernet Sauvignon California 2003 82 $2
Mark Lewis
Napa —  June 28, 2007 1:17pm ET
We tried some last night. It was good. I bought two. I had five dollars and got change back for those two bottles. A clean, good tasting chardonnay is great in the summer hot weather. The reality is that you can pay a lot more for a lot worse. It scored an 83 on WS. 80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine. Great for us as consumers. And by the way, you can 't buy this kind of advertising...
Sao Anash
Santa Barbara —  June 28, 2007 1:42pm ET
James, I visited their site, but it appears they have not yet posted the winners of the 2007 awards for public viewing. Is there a link? I ask because Two Buck Chuck won the "commercial" category in this wine competition. Perhaps there is also a category for less commercial wines? This is the only way these results would make sense. Come on, how can it out perform Auberts, Kistlers, Peter Michael, etc.? So, without knowing who the competition was, it's hard to really comment. If Two Buck Chuck was up against a bunch of other "commercial" grocery-store driven brands, however, then it might start to make sense.
David A Zajac
June 28, 2007 1:43pm ET
To all of you defending it, get real! It is not a bad wine, but by all accounts its mediocre. That isn't bad to say that you had a mediocre $2 chardonnay that was drinkable, but this WON the competition against HUNDREDS of other chardonnay's. Either California chard producers should be embarassed or the judges should be - and yes, as I indicated before, I have had it (although not the 05), and it is, well...mediocre but drinkable.
David Barksdale
Henderson, NV —  June 28, 2007 2:25pm ET
Just goes to show yet once again that tastes, even amoung professionals and near professionals can vary by large degrees. Several years ago, there was a very highly rated Capernet blend that some critics just adored but that to this day, I find to be second tier. I might not understand the Two-Buck Chuck but I didn't understand Cinq Cepages either.Vaya con Dios.
Powell Yang
Napa, —  June 28, 2007 3:05pm ET
Tim,With all due respect, I looked up the wine exam from UC Davis you are referring to, Advanced Tasting Seminar. Frankly, it does not appear to be a difficult exam based on what I am reading. I would venture to guess most of semi-serious wine collectors would be able to pass the exam without too much effort.

I don't believe this exam offered by UC Davis is anymore difficult than the Certified Sommelier Exam (Level II) being offered by Court of Master Sommeliers. I've met a fair amount of restaurant staff that passed this particular exam and would not really describe them as wine knowledgeable. Again, most semi-serious collectors are probably better qualified than the so call wine directors/sommeliers at many restaurants that's passed the level II exam.
Jay J Cooke
Ripon CA —  June 28, 2007 4:20pm ET
I bought a few bottles & it is OK for $2. I can't imagine out of 270 wines it came in first. I can't hardly wait to see number 2,3 & 4. James, your comment regarding in the extreme all Chardonnays taste alike is bothersome. I have heard that before & there are not many Chardonnays under $20 that I have great memories of.
John Miller
Windsor, CA —  June 28, 2007 5:16pm ET
I agree with David. Some people seem to be missing the point. We are not "bashing" 2BC! The issue is not whether its a good buy, but whether it was the BEST wine in the tasting. I don't think I am being a wine snob when I say if you put 2 buck chuck head-to-head against Paul Hobbs, any rational wine judge would pick the Paul Hobbs as the better wine...NOT NECESSARILY THE BETTER VALUE. I think its ridiculous that anyone who bothers to blog on this site would argue that point. Taste is relative, but there are limits for crying out loud.
John Miller
Windsor, CA —  June 28, 2007 5:25pm ET
By the way, I think JL would agree with my last point as evidenced by:'05 2BC - 83 points'04 Paul Hobbs Chardonnay 92 points
Tony Tam
June 28, 2007 5:38pm ET
One has not found the same kind of skepticism about the fairness of the process and the competence of the judges in other competitions. Maybe there is a perception that the other competitions have "real" experts whereas the state fair was judged by a bunch of local yokos. It's amazing how much vitriol can be generated when conventional wisdom is being challenged.
Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  June 28, 2007 6:08pm ET
From the Capital Press: "A record number of 3,029 wines from 660 California vintners will be sampled by 16 panels of 64 wine judges today through Sunday. In all, fair officials estimate 24,000 glasses of wine will pass under the noses and over the palates of the judges, an average of 100 wines per judge daily."

That is an awful lot of wine and potential for palate fatigue. While my posts on this have been in favor of 2-Buck I must say that it has none of the magic other well-made Chards have, and it does appear likely that most of the high-scoring Chard labels were in on this competition. It's not an also-ran competition but actually the oldest one in the nation. Nevertheless, it is a bit ridiculous that Chasseur Chards, any of them, wouldn't be preferred over 2-Buck.
Brian Teaff
June 28, 2007 7:58pm ET
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERox2CjCJhcCheck it out; the reality of 2BC.
Amy Gardner
Sacramento, CA —  June 28, 2007 9:21pm ET
Okay, this has been a great blog--wine, rock and roll and you-tube. What could be wrong with 2BC. I love the YouTube clip--going to go drink my award winning 2BC to stay alive right now. Thanks for the hot topic Jim--I'll keep coming back!
John Miller
Windsor, CA —  June 29, 2007 2:48am ET
ROFL Brian! That's an awesome song!
Willim Tisherman
Katonah, NY —  June 29, 2007 10:29am ET
The fact that this post has generated such a response is perhaps more interesting than the original story. The TBC triumph is notable to me for two points: 1) the wine is clean and well-made regardless of price, and wines like that can indeed show well in blind tastings, depending on what else is in the flight(s). 2) Wine tasting -- and by extension ALL wine judging -- is fraught with the ever-present risk of anomalies.

Many of the comments above seem to focus on the shock of a cheap wine beating out more prestigious (expensive, serious) ones. Anyone who has ever tasted a wide range of wines knows that strange things happen when tasting blind. Let's not blame the judges in this competition for being human.

The truth remains: taste is subjective and judgment is circumstantial. You could probably take all the wines entered in this competion, re-sort them and give them to the same judges split up on differnet panels, and you would have different results. I would love to see a panel of WS editors be given a set of wines to "judge" rather than rate, and then be given the same wines in a different order on another day and see how different the results are. It will never happen, though, because any such exercise would expose the Emperor's Clothes nature of wine criticquing. All those ratings people wave around like flags are no more or less than one human's taste preference on a given day with a given set of wines.
David A Zajac
June 29, 2007 12:40pm ET
William, I respectfully disagree. TBC may very well be a decent wine, but if you put together a professional panel of, say James Laube and Suckling, Robert Parker and Steve Tanzer and they couldn't, under any circumstances, tell me the difference between this and say a Paul Hobbs single vineyard chardonnay, then I will buy you a case of 2005 Latour (otherwise you owe me one?).
Hugh L Sutherland Jr-m
miramar beach, fl —  June 29, 2007 3:14pm ET
My goodness!! Such immature vitrol about a wine where cheapness automatically means "swill". Fortuately, there also has been a modum of moderation. Has anyone noted that our expert, James, has not said anything bad about the wine. His comments lead me to believe that it is surprisingly quite "quaffable". Someday these immature wine "experts" will learn that price has very often nothing to do with quality.
Willim Tisherman
Katonah, NY —  June 29, 2007 4:21pm ET
David, maybe I wasn't clear. Telling the difference between two wines side by side is relatively simple. Virtually anyone with any wine experience and some concentraiton can do it. Judging (and rating) multiple wines in multiple flights is complicated, and the process alone creates anomalies based on those specific tasters of those specific wines, in a specific order on a specific day. The point is that results from blind tastings of broad scope reflect only the tasters' preferences in that context -- and can not be replicated. And the fact that results such as these can not be replicated means that we shouldn't put much stock at all in them. It's been said before on this blog and in other forums that it does make sense to follow the advice of a critic whose palate agrees with yours. But I still contend that EVERY critic is fallible (or human) in terms of replicating results, which to me makes scores absurd. If any Wine Spectator editor is willing to sit down in a public seting and blind-taste 20 wines of the same type and is able to replicate even half the numerical ratings, I will happily buy both that editor and you a case of Latour. It's the numbers that are the problem. I'd much rather read the non-blind opinions of real wine lovers than either the blind notes of a single critic or the medal winners selected by a panel of bleary-eyed judges.
David A Zajac
June 29, 2007 10:02pm ET
Hugh, with all due respect, 20 years of wine drinking tells me price does, most of the time, equate to quality (but there are always exceptions!). William, thanks for the clarification, I actually do respect 2BC, but find it hard to believe it actually won (see comment above!)
Claude Pope
Raleigh, NC —  June 29, 2007 10:37pm ET
Y'all sound like the French press in 1976 after the Judgement of Paris declared Stag's Leap the winner over Mouton and Montrose. 3BC (an extra buck in NC) is what it is. Great to cook and sip while cooking. No guilt pouring leftovers down the drain either. I would suggest that at 300 million bottles, the biggest losers weren't the higher dollar wines, but beer and co'cola instead. Go Fred!
Hugh L Sutherland Jr-m
miramar beach, fl —  June 30, 2007 9:34am ET
David, my wife and I over the past 25 years have had a routine of having a glass of white wine at 5PM. We have tried many different wines. However, drinking this much tends to limit my discussion of $50-90 chards. The $50-90 ones that I have tried, to my taste buds, have been overly oaked and with excessive malalactic fermentation. My comment to friends is to buy what you like and not what you pay for it. I myself would get more pleasure out of a case of 2BC wine than one bottle of Kisler (or 4 bottles of Schug rate 92).
R. Douglas Collins
Hermosa Beach, California —  July 2, 2007 11:49am ET
What's remarkable here, and what makes me suspect that there was either some error (e.g., a mix-up of bottles) or perhaps, as someone suggested, the submission by Bronco of an atypical bottle, is not that TBC was deemed to be a decent quaff but that it scored 98 points, was given a double-gold medal, and proclaimed "best of show."

I have tasted the wine and found it to be clean but almost totally lacking character -- it tastes like generic white wine, period. Given the competition, IMHO the judges would have to be on crack to conclude that it was nothing short of spectacular. Or perhaps they simply don't know how Chardonnay is SUPPOSED to taste.

That said, I would prefer it to the insipid 187ml bottles of plonk sold on airplanes for $5.

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