Chacun Son Vin: Welcome to the Conversation

Chacun Son Vin: Welcome to the Conversation
by Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

Bill Zacharkiw

I have been writing about wine for over ten years, and have been involved in various aspects of the wine industry for over twenty. I owned a restaurant, was the head sommelier at a Relais Châteaux restaurant, and worked the floor at the SAQ.

Over that time I’ve seen a lot of changes. Wine styles have come and gone. The “New World” is not so new anymore, and wine from the four corners of the wine world have never been more accessible.

However, the most important change is you. Yes, you the wine lover.

There was a time when wine critics and sommeliers descended from their mountain tops to proclaim their verdict about wines. You were expected to shut up and drink.

You have levelled the playing field. You have your own tastes and opinions, and they are as worthy as ours. Critics, like myself and others on the team of CSV – Marc Chapleau, Nadia Fournier and Rémy Charest, and everyone who writes for WineAlign –  taste far more wine than most. We travel, meet winemakers and walk the vineyards. We taste back vintages so that we can better assess a terroir and the wine that it produces over time. This allows us to look at a wine in a larger context than most, and our job is to bring this information to you.

We’ll do that here.

But our palates are no more worthy than yours. The future of wine criticism is about a conversation. It is about an exchange of viewpoints. And what I love most about Chacun Son Vin is that it provides that link.

You’ll notice that we critics don’t always agree about wines. I’m virtually allergic to new oak; I prefer finesse over power, and firmly believe that the very best wines are not those which are technically perfect, rather those that reveal the imperfections of the land and the vintage in unique and tasty ways. Others have their own criteria.

Those that know me know that I don’t like scoring wines. There are too many variables at play which can change an appreciation of a wine. But a condition of becoming part of this team was that all wines had to be scored; which provides the unique ability of this site to let you “align” your tastes with various critics. And that is new, and a good thing. And in the end, having an opportunity to recommend wines that I love and to write about the wine industry to an even greater audience was more important than “the score.”

So I choose to use a five-star scale. Decoding my pleasure-ometer is as follows: two stars I consider drinkable yet unexciting; three stars is a good, solid wine; four stars and I’m running to the store to buy more, and for a wine to get five stars, I probably cried as I drained the last of the bottle.

I do factor in price, so value is a consideration. In my books, if a winery is going to be charging more than $30 a bottle, I hold them to a higher standard.  Conversely, if a winery can produce an inexpensive bottle that talks of a place and doesn’t taste like it came out of a laboratory, then they reach hero status with me.

But please read the tasting note, that’s what’s really important!

Notes & Stars

So follow the voice or voices that you feel best align with your tastes. But remember, you can also participate and I hope many of you use this site to further this conversation.

The SAQ releases hundreds of wines every two weeks. Many of these are new to the province, and new to us. We as a team will try and taste as many of them as we can. We will recommend what we like, and tell you why. And by leaving us your email and becoming a member, we will send you weekly emails with a list of what turned us on.

After that, it’s up to you.

Bill Zacharkiw