Talk to any tobacconist and you’ll probably discover that they have a love-hate relationship with Marvin Shanken, publisher of Cigar Aficionado. On the one hand, the magazine played a huge role in the cigar boom of the mid-1990′s, and certainly contributes to the romanticization of "the good life" as it relates to cigars to this day; on the other hand, his 100-point scoring system for cigars causes a great deal of angst around stocking high-scoring cigars and often overlooking or underrating little-known gems. I can attest to this having spent a couple years working in San Francisco’s premier tobacconist during the peak of the boom, and our attitude was that the "best cigar" is the one you like best. People have different tastes & preferences, and while we can make recommendations, we would never be so bold as to say our favorite was better than your favorite.
It should come as no surprise that the same has been true of wines. While I have yet to work in a wine shop, being a betting man, I’m sure wine retailers share the same feelings about Robert Parker, Wine Spectator (another Shanken publication), and Wine Enthusiast. A friend of mine who used to be in the wine business, selling to retailers, would often tout their 93 score in Wine Enthusiast which didn’t seem to carry much weight with buyers because they are always! "enthusiastic"! about wine! — they’d give vinegar an 89! Of course, Robert Parker is the giant of the 3 in terms of reputation and longevity, and so it was he who was targeted in a recent article in Portfolio magazine about wineries refusing to submit wines for a score.
Money quote from Christophe Hedges of Hedges Family Estate:
"My dad calls high-scoring wines ‘bimbo wines’ because they’re good for
cocktail parties but not marriage. We want to make the kind of wine
that’s beautiful for the long haul."
Well played! And worth a quick read if you’re a wine lover.