Quick Trigger: Are Reviews Done Too Soon?, Vol 11, Issue 18, February 2018

By Rusty Gaffney


Pinot Noir from California and Oregon producers is often sent for review shortly after bottling. There is an urgency to get the newest vintage ratings in the marketplace. Wine critics often tell consumers to wait a year or two or more because they predict that the wine will improve in bottle. Unfortunately, once a wine is reviewed early in its life, the score is a permanent tattoo that the wine must carry for many years.

I decided to look at Pinot Noir wines I had previously reviewed and compare to my reviews and scores approximately 16-26 months later. I had this unique opportunity available to me since producers often send two bottles of each wine and I tucked the second bottle away in my temperature controlled wine locker. This is a modest sampling, but can provide valuable insight. On my second reviews, I did not look at the original reviews or scores to bias me. Bottle variation can come into play here but let’s disregard that minor confounder. As far as I know, no wine critic has ever undertaken this type of study.

The approximate time between reviews follows the wine’s title. Two of the second wines I chose to review were corked and not included – this is why wineries often send two bottles for review. I only chose wines that I thought received scores of 90 or above on initial review.


2013 Alma Fria Holtermann Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
26 months · Earth-kissed aromas including black cherry, peppery spices, pine forest and savory herbs. A generous gulp of beautifully ripened black cherry and black raspberry fruits entice the palate. Mid weight plus in style, with suave tannins, a compliment of oak, and a very long finish. Previously 90 Score: 94