The latest in the "suck line" of threads. I expect there'll be more agreement here than in my "French" thread:
Before I start my rant, let me tell you what triggered it: last night with a nicely marinated flank steak, I opened a bottle of 1996 Silver Oak - Alexander Valley. It had been well preserved since purchase, and -- while I'm certainly not a Silver Oak fanatic -- I recognize the pre-1998 offerings as pretty good (though certainly not QPRs). Well, the fruit in this wine was falling apart, the tannins were nowhere to be tasted, and it had little structure. In other words, this wine is over the proverbial hill. I'll be honest -- I was pretty disappointed.
So, here are the reasons why Silver Oak sucks:
1) It is grossly overpriced, esp. considering competitors at the same price point. We're talking $100+ for the Napa. I can get 2 bottles of Neal, a bottle of Spottswoode, a bottle of Merus, a bottle of Pride, a bottle of Lewis Reserve (the list goes on and on) for that price.
2) It ages horribly. About 18 months ago, we took a little vertical (1990-1992) of the Napa Cab to dinner with us. The 1992 was holding up (which is laudable), but the other two wines were approaching plonk status. So ten years in the bottle is pretty much out of the question. But then there's last night's bottle of 1996 Alexander Valley (let's call it 4.5 years in the bottle), and its falling apart. That is unforgivable to me at this price point. As an aside, I should point out that Laube says to drink through 2008. I think he missed the drinking window on this one.
3) Their production is ridiculous. Don't get me wrong -- I have no problem with people making money, but this wine is perceived by the public as "limited." I believe their production numbers are in the tens of thousands of cases. I've even heard someone on these Board say that if you include their second wine(s), Silver Oak's production is approaching 100,000 cases. That, my friends, ain't exclusive. I also question how subtle your winemaking can be at this production level.
4) The pretentious consumer -- this is probably the biggest reason to hate this wine: the people who drink it are often shallow jerks. We've all seen the guy wearing his Hermes tie, gold cufflinks, and talking loudly on his cell phone in a restaurant with a bottle of Silver Oak on his table. Nothing screams, "Look at me!" more than this.
5) Too damned oakey. I know, I know -- it says "Oak" on the label, but they've taken it a little too far.
6) The ratings are mediocre. I only rarely buy wine for the ratings, but if you're paying this kind of cash for a bottle, you'd expect better. Type "Silver Oak" into wine search here, and you'll see a range of score between 66-96. The best in the last five years is the 1999 Napa at 91 points.
7) A segue from the earlier post -- it seems that Silver Oak, too, is over the hill. Looking at those ratings, you see the gaudy numbers in 1986 & 1987. That, to me, is when Silver Oak really established its reputation and put itself on the map. Ever since, they've been jousting at windmills. Don't get me wrong, I think Silver Oak's "front office" has demonstrated some incredible business savvy over the years (and Justin Meyer in undoubtedly talented), but I think their best days are over a decade behind them.
I'm sure there are other reasons that Silver Oak sucks, but these are the ones that initially came to mind. Anyone want to join me in Silver Oak bashing?