The New York Times did a tasting roundup of Australian Shiraz in their food section today. The panel gushed about one called "Woop Woop" from Southeastern Australia, calling it "big, clean and smooth with distinctive syrah flavors" and possessing "beautiful balance and great structure" with "good tannins and lots going on."
I hadn't heard of the name before, so in doing some additional research, I came a cross a Wine Spectator rating of the very same wine, rating it a mediocre 80 points and calling it "crisp and bitey with tannin, not a friendly red but has some pleasant red fruit flavors."
Rather than make any judgment about one rating versus the other--which is impossible since I've never tasted the stuff--this difference of opinion points up the inherent frustration I have with wine reviews. Perhaps these two ratings have more in common than I think? Can tannins be both "good" and "bitey"--to say nothing of a wine being both "balanced" and unfriendly"? I can see two shlubs in a bar disagreeing widely about a particular wine, but I thought I could assume that those folks who are paid to review wine would share an uncommonly well-developed palate, along with an equally well-developed vocabulary to describe a wine accurately. Shouldn't this rarefied contingent of silver palates be closer in their ratings? This doesn't appear to be the case. Did Frank Prial at the Times eat an onion bagel prior to his tasting? Was Harvey Steiman at the Wine Dictator just getting over a cold, or did he feel strongly that anything called "Woop Woop" couldn't possibly be good? Who knows?
In any case, at $10 a bottle, I intend to try this and make my own determination, but what about when I'm contemplating the purchase of an unfamiliar $90 Burgundy or Bordeaux?