Thursday, August 1, 2013

How to make a 90-point wine

Chester Osborn
Chester Osborn told me this story earlier this week.

Osborn makes a lot of great high-end wines for his family winery, D'Arenberg in Australia's McLaren Vale. He also makes The Stump Jump ($10).

It's a Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre, three grapes McLaren Vale does well cheaply. But it's not his lovely $65 The Dead Arm Shiraz; it is what it is, a drinkable supermarket wine. The 2006 Stump Jump got 86 points from Wine Spectator, a score the magazine defines as "Very good, a wine with special qualities." But 86 is a long way below 90 in the eyes of wine distributors.

"The Stump Jump went absolutely mad in 2008," Osborn says. "It was the ripest, oiliest wine we ever made because of the vintage. When we made the '08, I made about 800,000 liters of wine that I thought I'd have to distill. It was so oily and weird. That was the wine I put in The Stump Jump."

And you know the punch line.

The '08 D'Arenberg Stump Jump got 90 points from Wine Spectator. The wine flew off grocery stores' shelves.

"The 2011 got 89 points," Osborn says. "I prefer the style, it's beautiful. The vintage was much better."

But 89 points ... in the supermarket wine world, it's a bridesmaid. And now we know why.

Follow me on Twitter: @wblakegray and like The Gray Report on Facebook.


Joe Vino said...

Interesting story. I wonder what "oily" means?

Caroline said...

Chester Osborn is his name.

W. Blake Gray said...

Oops. Thanks Caroline.