How IWM Fills the Gaps Between Critics and Cellars
Perhaps the most critical work that we perform at IWM is to guide serious buyers in their future wine acquisitions. Commonly we run into a challenge because we have a different opinion about a wine or a producer than the press does. The consumer is left with a complicated decision to make—and whom to trust.
Before tackling this intriguing predicament, however, let’s consider the source of information and the motivation behind it. While there are many fine voices in the wine community today, there are two that dominate consumer perspective: Robert Parker and The Wine Spectator, who have both made wine more accessible, easier to understand, and more enjoyable for thousands of Americans and the others across the globe. The Wine Spectator is a lovely magazine with brilliant writers, fabulous pictures and keen insight, but its primary function is to sell magazines. Robert Parker is a critic with his own agenda to sell. And these functions create very specific reference points.
Accuracy and inclusive reporting are also not tantamount. Robert Parker is the single most powerful voice in the wine world today. He is a prolific writer. He genuinely has a remarkable understanding of Bordeaux. To his credit, he openly acknowledges that he represents what he believes to be the American Palate. Through his considerable influence, he has made “the New World Style” of wine and winemaking the dominant one on the global scene. However, he often writes about areas where he is not a leading expert. It’s impossible for one man to know everything about anything, even when that man is as huge and as reputable an authority as Robert Parker.
For example, shortly after the 1994 California Cabernets were released The Wine Spectator lead with an omniscient title, “Vintage of the Decade.” The objective was to create genuine interest and enthusiasm about this subject and to give it a hook that would make it easy to remember. And it worked. However, the information failed to be accurate. The 1990s saw many very good vintages, but the soft tannins from 1994 have started to fade. Many experts would now tout the 1997 vintage as superior, and many would agree that the lesser known 1995s with their big tannic structure are showing beautifully. Vintages are simply sometimes more complex than simple attention-grabbing, magazine-selling cover stories.
What it comes down to is this: these two members of the media have very distinct perspectives about wine. However, their word is not gospel. And we try very hard to fill in the gaps of these experts’ knowledge and to bring our own expertise to the world of wine—and to our clients’ tables and cellars.
The foundation of our business is to share our passion about fine wine with our consumers. We take the time to ask questions about their wine interests. Is the customer open to trying new wines, unusual wines, wines with earth, wines that are biodynamic? What about wines crafted from unknown varietals? Wines made in seriously iconoclastic styles? Wines that don’t fit any easy description? A magazine or a specific critic simply does not have the opportunity to know an individual palate. We do.
Our mission at IWM is very different from that of a magazine or a critic. We often work through the confusion of various influences to provide clarity about individual bottles. We look beyond generalizations like vintage charts or 100pt scoring systems to provide the suggestion for the individual consumer. We aim to guide our clients on a personalized path through the complex fine wine world. We can be as involved as the customer requires. Invariably, there are points where the consumer must take a leap of faith and allow us to introduce them to wines beyond their focus. And consistently, they are thrilled. Ultimately, there is trust established between us, and we can shape the collectors cellar into something balanced and profound. This process becomes a delightful journey.
And we love being on it with you, our clients.