Where Does Wine Come From? (Part 4)

...after learning the superstar vineyards of our precious Santa Lucia Highlands AVA have dropped from 90+ to 80-point plots of dirt...

And here it is, in its great, oversized, glossy glory, (sound trumpets) presenting "Wine Spectator," May 31, 2008.  Wine Spectator gods, we humbly kneel at your feet and burn candles and incense in your honor (cue the harps and angelic chorus).   We pay homage to your keen noses and palates whenever we hit the bathroom, as your latest and greatest publication reigns high from our favorite toilet tank (under our kids' Dora the Explorer plastic "potty seat").  And there, on page 124, the newly published tasting notes on our favorite Santa Lucia Highlands Garys' and Rosella's Vineyard wines.  Look; it's the Loring and Siduri 2006 vintages, "graded" (what??!!) 86 and 85 points.  Hmmmmmm (dramatic pause).  Disconcerting.  What to say, what to say?

Now whether or not one agrees with the supreme authority and power of Robert Parker's or Wine Spec's grading system is an audacious and contentious topic for another debate.  That said, these tasting notes come from wine authorities with palates and wine experiences much broader and more discerning than my own.  So, if our 2008 pinot noir from Santa Lucia Highlands were expertly described as "medium-bodied, with sour cherry and berry flavors and a whiff of tar and mineral, giving this a complex range of flavors," well I'd be pretty psyched.  In fact, I'd open that cherry-berry wonder of enology and drink it with dinner tonight!  (FYI: that was in fact the descriptor for Loring Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Garys' Vineyard 2006).  Clearly you can't bank everything on a number, whether 99 or 79.  Exuberance undampened, we press onwards with our journey.