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Wine business slow? Then boost the scores

There is a reason the Wine Curmudgeon is so cynical about the wine business. It’s news like this:

“The numbers are in, and they’re historically impressive. In Wine Spectator’s report on California Pinot Noir, a whopping 55% of the 350-plus wines from the 2009 vintage had scores of 90 points or higher, including 15 wines that scored a classic 95 or better. It’s the category’s best performance ever.”

More than half are 90-point wines? A record-setting four percent are “classic”? Why? What made the 2009 vintage so special? Robert Parker’s vintage rating called it barely “outstanding,” and one Sonoma winemaker didn’t even go that far; he called the 2009 crop good to very good.

Full disclosure, first, of course. Regular visitors here know that I have no use for scores, and so I view any report heralding scores with a sneer and a quizzical look. Also, I have not tasted all 350 wines in the Spectator report, and it’s always chancy to criticize something when you don’t have all the information.

Having said that, though, there are a couple of things to note about all of those classic wines. First, style matters. The 2009 pinots I have tasted were well made, but in that very ripe and busty style that the Winestream Media enjoys and that makes me reach for something else. Which is, of course, the biggest problem with scores. Second, that many of the high-scoring wines cost more than $30 a bottle. If a wine that costs more than $30 a bottle doesn’t score 90 or better, there isn’t any reason for the winery to be in business. Which is, of course, another problem with scores.

Finally, what would happen if the Spectator did a pinot noir issue that said that the vintage was ordinary and that the wines were ordinary? And what would happen if the magazine did that during a three-year sales slump, like we’re going through now?

Exactly. So don’t worry if you miss this classic vintage; I’m willing to bet there will be another one in 12 months.

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5 thoughts on “Wine business slow? Then boost the scores

  • By Jeff - Reply

    Amen and amen.
    I’ll drink what I like to drink and I’m with you WC; scores be damned.

  • By Sant Roman - Reply

    What? Scores pump up the prices and vintage of a wine? Don’t say its so? Yet people are still using scores to push sales. What would happen if the people come to the conclusion that scores do not mean anything and they all have to start reading tasting notes only? Great post!

  • By John - Reply

    Damn the torpedoes!!! ScoRevolution, baby!!!

  • By Pullthatcork - Reply

    If 55% are 90 Pts. or higher, sounds like maybe they need to change their scoring criteria. What will happen when we have a vintage where 100% are 90+ ? Where will we find bad wine then? We will all be irrelevant.

  • By web design London - Reply

    . What would happen if the people come to the conclusion that scores do not mean anything and they all have to start reading tasting notes only? Great post!Yet people are still using scores to push sales

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