Expensive wine of the month 10: Murphy Goode All In Claret 2004

Murphy Goode's All In Claret is quintessential high-end California wine -- with all that entails.

The All In Claret from Murphy Goode, a red Bordeaux blend, is quintessential expensive California wine (though it’s from Sonoma’s Alexander Valley and not Napa). It’s full of rich, concentrated fruit (cherries and berries?) and you won’t miss the oak. The tannins are there, but they don’t get in the way, and the alcohol checks in at 14.5 percent.

In other words, the All In ($45, sample) is a wine that part of the wine world will love and another part will sip, spit, and move on from. I saw this myself at the Cordon Bleu Challenge last week, when I brought the wine for my team to cook. We drank what was left afterward — two of us loved it and two of us went, “Meh.” Regular visitors can guess what the Wine Curmudgeon thought.

This does not mean the All In is a “bad” wine; in fact, it’s extremely well made and the fruit is top quality. My pal Joe Pollack at St. Louis Eats and Drinks called it an outstanding wine. Rather, this illustrates a point about wine that I have been trying to make for more than 20 years, and which the Winestream Media regularly ignores. Wine is not objective. Wine is subjective. The goal of wine criticism should not be to tell people what to drink, but to explain to them what the wine tastes like so they can make up their own mind. That’s why scores are so useless. They don’t explain anything. They tell people what to drink.

Would I spend $45 for the All In? Probably not, since I don’t like that style of wine. But someone who does, like my cookoff teammates, probably would. My job, and that’s what I did here, is tell them what it tastes like so they can make their own decision. Wine drinkers are not as stupid as the wine business wants them to be.

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2 thoughts on “Expensive wine of the month 10: Murphy Goode All In Claret 2004

  • By Melinda - Reply

    Here! Here! I agree with you. Wine is subjective and everyone’s palate is different. I always ask customers what they like in wine, what other wines they like, and what other beverages they enjoy before guiding them towards wines I think they’ll like. A great indicator, but not perfect, is how they drink their coffee or tea. I also inform customers what certain wines taste like and allow them to decide whether it’s for them or not. Customers really appreciate this and I get positive feedback because I am guiding them to wines they’ll like, not what I like. I am like a wine-matchmaker and that’s what I love about my job as a Wine Steward.

  • By Bobby Cox - Reply

    This wine has a nice heathy dollop of Petite Verdot. I have corresponded with this grower about Petite Verdot because I would like to grow some up here on the High Plains of Texas. The winery got stuck with the Petite Verdot when a contract to sell the fruit fell through so they got a bunch of gold medal winning wine by default, how nice!

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