Hi, I'm new to wine drinking, so when buying wines I rely heavily upon the _Wine Spectator_ ratings, including the ones posted in stores. I bought a wine today that allegedly received 88 points from WS, and when I later searched the WS rating archive I found that the winemaker was not in the archive at all (including the full acccess section).

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I ought to do? The wine was not expensive ($14 for a Pinot Noir), but as a grad student none of the wines I buy are expensive, and I try to get the most bang for my buck. Beyond the cost of the wine, I don't like the possibility that the store had posted an invented rating. Is that practice common? I usually carry print-outs from the WS archive, but they can be a bit cumbersome on a brief wine-buying trip.

By the way, the wine is labeled "Lucas and Lewellen 2000 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir VR Hillside Vineyard."

Thanks for any feedback on this.
Original Post
I wouldn't worry about it myself. The online Ratings system does not have every wine rated by WS. It could be totally legit. If you are concerned you could always ask the store to produce the original review for you to look at. If they can't produce it you can return it if it isn't opened. Otherwise, take a chance, open it up and take a taste for yourself. If something is wrong recork it and return it. However, if it is good but just don't like it then you just bought it.

Welcome and stick around to post for a while.

Joe
I've seen retailers that put up shelf talkers that have ratings for one vintage, when a different vintage is on the floor.

If that's not enough, I'm my own worst enemy! If I don't write down all the specifics, I know I'll get the wrong bottle. I could see a shelf talker enticing me to buy something if it fell into that gray area of..."Is this the right one?"

I think I need more Ginko.

"Buddy the elf, what's your favorite color?" - Elf
Another all-too-common trick you’ll likely encounter is manipulation of barrel tasting scores. For example, let’s say Bobby Parker gives a range of 94-97 points before the wine is even bottled, and when it hits your local wine shop they post a shelf talker that says 97 points! Meanwhile Bobby has gone back and scored it after bottling at 92 points. This slight of hand is also common with email solicitations – buyer beware! I prefer to do my homework before I lay down the doestack rather than be pissed later at what comes off feeling like false advertising.
Mad
Thanks - I hadn't realized that the database doesn't include all the reviews. I'd been slightly suspicious since the store followed the rating with a blurb from the winemaker rather than the WS tasting notes. But since I don't have a really good reason to question the rating, I think I'll try the wine after all.

Might as well ask - my fiancee and I are having a pizza-making party soon, and while we'll be serving reds for the most part, we think we ought to have at least one white in case anyone's inclined in that direction. Any thoughts on what kind of white might go reasonably well with pizza?
wellcome dom,the stores get the rateings two weeks befor the mag comes out. then it won't go in the archives for ay least a month an half. a nother way is the weekly sing up for it then put it in a pdf file so you have it on hand then what i do is to print the quartly out. do you rember what week or it should be at the store. Cool
About a year ago, I recall WS running a story about that common practice of shelf talkers referring to wine of a diff. vintage from the one on the shelves. It's illegal--can't remember whether it breaks a state or a federal law. Anyway, I showed the article to one retailer around here who does it continually.
Dom, it pays to always check the claims.

If a $14 wine has been rated 92 by WS there will be a label proudly proclaiming that this vintage was rated 92 by WS. When the vintage or circumstances are unclear I find there's some fudge factor happening.

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The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. -Herbert Spencer
I have seen this in a large store here... some days all of the reps from different distributors are in checking the stock and placement of their labels. They will often put up little signs, recommendations, and replace bottles with the new vintage. I have seen them stock up on the '98 cali cab, while leaving the review for the '97 up (which was about 5-7 pts higher in some cases. Might not be the retailer... I can't imagine keeping tabs on huge stores like that... especially during the holidays. They should make an effort to double check to the best of their ability.

LJ

"Drink up, me hardies, YO HO!"

Parkside Church

Griffin House

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