I'll try to be objective...
Is it a good points system?
- In general it has been well accepted (it seems people like %'s rather than any other scale).
- It doesn't however use all the values (basically water in a bottle would score 50 points). In reality most wines reported on score 75-100 and there's a great concentration in the centre of that range. Thus it's not really a 100 point scale (but the same was true of the previous 20 point scale).
- In connection to the previous point, I see the elevated starting point and an average somewhere in the 80's as very misleading to people new to wine. Say they don't read the WS and they see 85 points out of 100 on the shelf. To someone who didn't know better that would sound like they loved the wine, whereas in fact they found it a bit mediocre. I see this as a cosy little arrangement between most wine critics and the producers/retailers - keep all the scores high and we'll keep the free samples, free trips and free flow of information - adopt a lower scale and some of these may dry up. (n.b. Parker himself is one of the few to try and pay his own way where possible AFAIK)
Do my tastes line up with their's?
- I don't know for sure, but from the trickle of scores I see, there are areas of agreement and areas of disagreement. I think sometimes we overplay the Robert Parker love of ripe/super-ripe wines, but it's in this area where most of my great differences seem to lie. However Parker writes descriptive tasting notes and sometimes it's possible to read between the lines that he loves the wine because it's supercharged and port-like, thus I will probably dislike it for the same reasons. WS is not just Parker though and it's an interesting time to get a subscription, as there's been a significant changeover of roles so it may be that some areas might match up better now.
- Do they line up with yours? Even if you've not tasted the wines, if you're able to pick up on key parts of the note, you can surmise that, yes that does sound good - not surprised they've scored it highly, or 95 points for something that tastes like sump oil, they must be mad!
- I thought about recording various critics scores for wines I had and referring back to them after tasting. As it happens I recorded a few, but never referred back - I hope this was because I had my own opinion now which was more useful, but I suspect I was just lazy
Scores in stores
I'm interested by this. Parker used to rant at people just using scores, rather than scores plus notes - however I assume he had no control, so it's scores alone and yes I'd expect them to match up (but it's been known over here for careless
retailers to put up the score and rating for a different vintage to that on offer. A very dubious practice.
One of the great advantages someone like Otto has, is that people DO buy wines just because Robert Parker or WS gave it a 92 rating, yet Otto's palate seems to diverge from their opinions quite dramatically. He benefits as the demand for "Parker Points" wines drives prices up, whilst lower pointed wines often end up cheaper. Thus Otto gets the wines he likes for cheaper than the wines he doesn't. (Otto please excuse me using your name in such a way, yet you seemed the obvious choice
). I'm oversimplifying here, especially as Otto has to buy his wine from a state monopoly who aren't noted for their range or competitiveness!
The message is: running against the tide can be very rewarding, but what's most rewarding is learning what styles you do & don't like (though this is a never ending quest).