The most single most important thing about the wines we sell is the pleasurable experience they provide. Since we cannot pour samples over the Internet, we strive to do our very best to give you an idea of what to expect from your wine. We comb the media for tasting notes, write some of our own when no others can be found, and endeavor to describe any significant conditional exceptions in the specific wines we offer.
We strive to ensure that all wine is of sound condition and is shipped in such a way that this condition is maintained. Where items have been inspected by Brentwood Wine Company, an opinion of the wine's condition is given in the description. This is only an opinion based on a visual inspection. Brentwood Wine Company makes no representation about the actual suitability of the wine for consumption. Likewise, small deviations in opinion of a particular bottle's quality are to be expected. General descriptions follow:
Excellent Condition - Most wines offered by Brentwood Wine Company are described as excellent. This indicates a fill level commensurate with the wine's age (high to mid neck for a wine less than 10 years old, mid to lower neck for one 10-20 years old, top shoulder or better for those over 20 years), no signs of wine seepage or a "pushed cork," and a clean, intact label and capsule without significant damage. For older bottles, a small degree of label and capsule discoloration may occur which is not deemed to detract from excellent condition.
Very Good Condition - Where minor flaws detract from excellent condition, and there is not room to provide a description of these flaws (such as when a bottle is part of a large lot) the term "Very Good Condition" will occasionally be used. This should be taken to mean one or two of the following: A fill level one step below that expected for the age of the wine, a label or capsule with a small amount of damage. Such damage might include a small mark or smudge, modest mildew, a small tear, corrosion, stretching or loosening, moisture damage or wrinkling.
A signature by a winemaker, winery owner or other noted individual is NOT considered a fault. Rather it will be described where present as a potential addition to the wine's value.
In some cases we may not have been able to inspect a bottle of wine before posting it at auction and have had to rely on a description. If, upon later inspection, we determine that the condition was not correctly represented, we will work with the winner to determine a satisfactory course.
Any dispute about the condition of purchased wine must be received by Brentwood Wine Company via fax or email within 24 hours of the time that the first delivery was attempted by the carrier. By not taking delivery on this date or not reporting the problem within this time, the purchaser waives all rights to wine condition, except bottle breakage, and accepts the property in "As Is" condition.
Tip: Provide us with a shipping address at which a person 21 years of age or older is present to take delivery of your wine during normal business hours. Inspect your wine as soon as you get it. Let us know when you'll be out of town so we can hold your wine.
TASTING NOTES AND SCORES
The wine descriptions and scores used at Brentwood Wine Company come from a variety of sources as indicated below. Per the conditions of copyright under which we use them, we can only provide partial descriptions in most cases and will edit them for space, clarity, and to highlight positive aspects of the aromas and flavors of the wine. This means we generally edit out descriptions of appearance, body, comparative notes, and technical information about the vinification and producer, among other things. For the full description, we strongly encourage our customers to go directly to the sources. While we always use the most up-to-date description and score from the quoted source, we do not have a fool-proof method for keeping this up to date. If you discover a more recent description from the named reviewer or a review for a wine for which we do not have one posted, please let us know!
Key to the sources:
AL: Alex Liddell - Madeira
BH: Allen Meadows - burghound.com
BTI: Beverage Tasting Institute - tastings.com
CC: Clive Coates - Grands Vins and Cote D'Or
CT: Cellar Tracker - average community scores
DP: David Parker - proprietary Brentwood Wine Company reviews
GR: Gambero Rosso - gamberorosso.it
FWR: Fine Wine Review
IWL: Insider's Wine Line (no longer published)
MB: Michael Broadbent - The Great Vintage Wine Book, Vintage Wine and Wine Vintages
RP: Robert Parker and Pierre Rovani - The Wine Advocate, Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide and erobertparker.com
RR: Riesling Report magazine - rieslingreport.com
ST: Stephen Tanzer - International Wine Cellar and internationalwinecellar.com
UWJ: Underground Wine Journal (no longer published)
WE: Wine Enthusiast magazine and winemag.com
WS: Wine Spectator magazine and winespectator.com
W&S: Wine and Spirits magazine
We provide these reviews and scores as a courtesy to bidders, and while we do our best to make sure they correctly match the wine offered, they are solely the opinions of the writers, and we can make no representation about the accuracy of the information. We never recommend making a purchase decision purely on a score or a review, but if this is a major factor in your bidding decision, we highly recommend that you go directly to the source. We cannot provide a refund on opened bottles of wine because of erroneous tasting notes or score information.
For wine scored by David Parker (marked DP): if after tasting a bottle from a multi-bottle purchase, you believe the quality to be substantially below that stated, you may return the remaining unopened bottles to us for a no-questions-asked credit on those unopened bottles.
We inspect all bottles and describe any deviations from what would generally be considered excellent condition for a bottle of the particular age. The following abbreviations are often used where space is limited, and their significance is described below.
pristine - no significant visible fault can be found. Only generally used when this represents far better condition than would be considered excellent for the age. Often indicates a recorked or reconditioned bottle when found in older vintages.
excellent - the bottle looks generally excellent for its age. Small nicks or mars may occur, especially for older bottles. This is the standard condition for most wines we offer.
very good - occasionally used to indicate a bottle that has one or two modest flaws below what we would generally consider excellent. This is most frequently used in brokered auctions where we have not seen the bottles prior to sale but have confidence in the base line condition from the source.
fair - occasionally used to indicate multiple significant flaws, which, when taken together, indicate either a quite poor cosmetic specimen or one with a significant chance of contents damage.
reconditioned - indicates that the bottle shows clear or suspected signs of having been recorked, recapsuled, relabeled and/or topped off. Unless otherwise stated, indications are that this process was done at or by the original producer. Common for bottles over 40 years of age, especially top Bordeaux, Yquem and Penfolds Grange. Viewed by many as an asset.
MN - Mid neck fill - indicates exceptional storage for any wine. In bottles over 10 years of age, indicates especially good storage conditions. For those over 40 years of age, may indicate a recorked/reconditioned bottle. Rarely used except to emphasize these points.
BN - Base neck fill - The fill is at about the bottom of the neck. Indicates excellent storage for any wine. A standard fill for recent and older vintages. For wines over 25 years of age, indicates exceptional storage conditions. Infrequently used except to emphasize these points. Many producers fill bottles at base neck or lower.
TS - Top shoulder fill - Fill just down below base neck. A standard fill for wines over 10 years of age. For wines over 25 years of age, indicates excellent storage conditions.
HS - High shoulder fill - Good fill for wines over 25 years of age.
US - Upper shoulder fill - A fill just above the midpoint (as measured by volume) of the shoulder of the bottle. May also be referred to as HTMS (or high to mid shoulder) fill. Common for wines over 40 years of age. For wines less than this age, may indicate problems with storage conditions.
MS - Mid shoulder fill - A fill at about the midpoint (as measured by volume) of the shoulder of the bottle. Not unusual for wines over 40 years of age, but may suggest poor storage condition or early signs of cork failure. Can be at significant risk of being undrinkable.
LS - Low shoulder (and below) - A fill below the midpoint (as measured by volume) of the shoulder. This can often be an indicator of poor storage conditions and/or an undrinkable wine. Not normally recommended for consumption.
Below Shoulder -Rarely seen, but indicates the fill has dropped below the shoulder into the main cylindrical section of the bottle. A high chance that the wine is not drinkable.
BC - Below cork. For Burgundy bottles and others (like Haut Brion) that do not have clearly defined shoulders, fills may be indicated by the number of inches between the bottom of the cork and the fill level. Generally only used to indicate an uncommonly good or bad fill relative to the age.
BWC, CWC - Broken wax capsule, chipped/cracked wax capsule. For bottles closed with a wax capsule (notably Leroy, Dunn, Sine Qua Non, Ports and large format bottles) this capsule is very commonly broken, chipped or cracked. This does not in and of itself indicate poor storage conditions but is described to indicate a cosmetic flaw.
RWC - Rewaxed capsule. Indicates an obvious replacement or patching of a lost or damaged capsule. Brentwood Wine will sometimes perform this function to enhance the ability of a wine to travel safely, to protect an exposed cork and to improve the perceived esthetics.
DCC - Discolored capsule. The coloring of the capsule has been removed due to abrasion or external exposure to moisture.
NC - Nicked capsule - a modest cut or tear is present in the capsule
TC - Torn or trimmed capsule - indicates that a significant portion of the capsule below the neck flange is damaged or missing. This is commonly done on purpose with high value bottles to inspect the cork and is not considered a flaw for such high value bottles.
CC - Corroded Capsule - May indicate some seepage of wine but is common for wines over 25 years of age.
MC - Missing capsule - indicates there is no capsule on the bottle. See exposed cork below.
DC - Depressed Cork - may indicate temperature variance at some point in a bottle's history. Slightly depressed corks are often a product of the corking process and may be released as such by the winery.
PC - Protruding cork - may indicate temperature variance at some point in a bottle's history. Slightly protruding corks may be a product of the corking process, released as such by the winery.
EC - Exposed cork - the entire capsule, or its top, is missing, exposing the cork. This may call into question the contents of the bottle.
SOS or SOOS - Signs of Seepage.
Signs of Old Seepage. Signs that wine has leaked past the cork. May indicate poor storage or the early stages of cork failure, especially when taken together with other conditional problems such as a low fill.
Note that many producers (notably in Burgundy and Germany as well as those utilizing large format bottles) often overfill bottles, resulting in seepage or cork movement even in well-stored bottles.
BSL - Bin stained label. A label stained by moisture, mildew or marks from its storage environment. Includes water stained labels.
GSL - Glue stained label - where obvious gluing has occurred.
WISL & WSL - Wine stained label. May indicate seepage. See SOS above.
CWISL - Cosmetic wine stained label - stained with wine that appears to have come from a source other than the particular bottle described, perhaps due to proximity to a leaking or broken bottle. Of cosmetic concern only in this case.
WRL - Writing on label. Note that a signature of a famous person or one associated with the wine is not given this grading but rather listed as the following.
signed - indicates that the bottle or the label is signed by a famous personality or one associated with the wine. Not considered a fault and may enhance the value of the bottle.
STL - Stained label. A label stained by something other than writing, bins, moisture, wine, or glue. This might include ink, paint, dirt, or other foreign material.
FL - Faded label
NL - Nicked label - indicates that one or more nicks, small tears, or small holes occur in the label.
ML - mildewed label
DSL - damp stained label
SL - Scuffed label
WL - Wrinkled label
TL - Torn label - A significant tear occurs in the label.
TAL or TATL - Tattered label. The label is badly torn and/or significant portions are missing.
NOL - No label. Identification in this case is by use of the capsule, cork and/or secondary labels.
Only the main front bottle label is generally graded. Damage to the back label, neck label or importer tag is not normally considered when grading a bottle unless it calls into question the integrity or identification of the wine.
Other than a wine stained label (which may indicate seepage) label damage is usually only a cosmetic fault and often a way to get a sound wine for less. In fact, many consider moisture or mildew stained labels to be an indication of good, if perhaps overly damp, storage conditions. European tastes in particular often favor 'old' looking bottles with such label stains being regarded as value-neutral or even a small enhancement to value.
GENERAL MODIFIERS TO THE ABOVE:
V - very
L or lt. - light or lightly
S or sl. - slight or slightly
M or mod. - moderate or moderately
H - heavy or heavily
D - damp
C - Cosmetic (usually used for wine stain, where
another bottle caused the wine stain)
If you ever receive a bottle from us for which you believe a significant error was made in the description of the condition (or other factors) of the bottle, send us an email to email@example.com immediately upon receipt. We'll work with you to your satisfaction or will pay to take the bottle back and provide a refund. Please note that we cannot take any stated responsibility for wine after the bottle has been opened, however. If you couldn't see outward signs of a bad bottle, neither could we.
Starting bids are adjusted based on observed condition and the perceived chance that the condition will affect the drinkability. Low fill levels, cork movement, capsule corrosion, signs of seepage, wine stains, and darker colors for white wines are all signs that the drinkability might be compromised. On the other hand, such bottles often provide great tasting experiences at a reduced price. Some destructive factors of wine such as cork taint and poor long-term storage may leave no visible signs in an unopened bottle.