RATING STANDARD FOR WINE
I find the 100 pointer system a marketing ploy which brought fame and fortune to the early entrants to the field. But it is ultimately pointless because almost no wine ranks below 80 in the Wine Advocate or in the Wine Spectator or in the International Wine Cellar….
I also find that established authorities give too little weight to a wine’s overall BALANCE and too much weight to its COLOR. While it is true that certain colors reveal that the wine is sick or over the hill, the reverse is not true. I don’t understand giving automatic points to a wine with a “deep red garnet” which, by itself, does mean very little. I am also amazed by the sheer number of unbalanced, over-extracted wines which receive 90 or above scores in major publications.
It is interesting that, like in restaurant reviews there are quite a few bloggers who are more trustworthy than more “official” reviewers who taste far too many wine in one sitting (and then rate the degree of alcohol) or taste in committees. In the latter case a wine which is absolutely adored by some and hated by others will rank about the same as a wine which committee members place in the middle. How reliable are the scores then?
The system I will adopt here is inspired by my teaching at the university. This means I will rank wine ranging from A+ to F. Everybody knows what these symbols mean!
Some caveats are in order. First admission is that the line between A+ and A is thin. The former is clearly extraordinary and the latter is outstanding. But judgment may be influenced by my record of experience in the same category. The first time I started drinking great Burgundies (in mid 80s) or Bordeaux, I would have rated more wine as extraordinary but I know more today that there are even better examples of the same category(say a Clos de la Roche which is one of my favorite plots in Burgundy). What I thought was extraordinary turned out to be an outstanding bottle.
I must also confess that I don’t think certain terroirs or grape varieties can create A level wines. So a B or B- rating which means good and above average denotes a very high ranking accorded to a Zindandel or a Verdicchio or a Carneros Cabernet. Conversely, a B- for a Romanee Conti is not very flattering.
My final confession relates to the ageability of wines. I always take some notes after uncorking bottles, also indicating my estimate for the wine to reach its peak. While my record is not worse than those who make pronouncements in their publications, and despite the fact that I store wines as in perfect conditions as one can in big cities, I have been proven wrong far too many times. I mean some wines reached their peak much earlier than I thought they would and others are still youthful despite the fact that they should have been over the hill according to my personal notes.
Dear reader, if I have one single wisdom to dispense with re. wine purchase it is the following. Remember that the REAL PRICE of the bottle you are paying for is about the double of the price you have paid for. This is because too many bottles will prove to be corked, storage costs are high and many bottles which you like today will turn out to be dull an uninteresting and will never evolve as you expect them to. Please keep this in mind and don’t always buy into the vintage hype before you taste yourself!