Most professional wine reviewers, and many well-informed amateurs, too, evaluate the quality of a wine based on its craftsmanship. There's a lot that goes into that word - from the vineyard into the cellar, but there is another aspect that contributes at least as much to the enjoyment of a wine. Some call it the X factor, which is an efficient catchphrase to mean sizzle, excitement, substance, character, sex appeal, and so on. These are attributes that are just too subjective to reasonably be included in the evaluation of the product, particularly if it ultimately results in a standalone number like a score. Still, that doesn't mean that it's any less important than the craftsmanship, or that craftsmanship alone makes a wine worth seeking out. To wit, here's one that is very close to flawless in its production.
2013 Kaiken Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza 'Ultra' $18
Perfectly balanced and structured, there isn't a drop out of place in this cabernet. Its proportionality is elegant, and its features are nearly perfect in their refinement. It is a supermodel of a wine. And who would pass up the chance to spend some quality time with a supermodel? Not me.
But after the initial dazzle, as the conversation begins in earnest, the beauty of a thing becomes somewhat normalized, and we search for reasons to be compelled. We look for substance and character. To want to maintain the conversation, we look for an X factor. And if the supermodel cannot carry on a conversation, doesn't have a sense of humor, or lacks social engagement, boredom sets in.
This wine, as nearly perfect as it is in construction, has no X factor. For some, beauty is its own X factor. And I recommend this wine if for no other reason because experiencing this level of perfection is almost impossible at this price. But for me, it's not enough. I'm glad to have had this wine. It just doesn't compel me to come back for more.