Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

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Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Brian Gilp » Fri Nov 21, 2008 1:46 pm

If this has already been beat to death please remove it. However, I for one missed the memo where wine reviews are now only printed for wines that score 90 points or more. I guess because I rarely read reviews anymore. I picked up a Wine & Spirits this week and flipping through the reviews noted that only those that rate 90 (or above or those that reflect great value) are printed. Also this week something shows up in the mail called Somms Selects (never seen this before) that also states that only wines that score 90 points or more are printed. So I guess only 90 point wines are worth drinking. Unless they are really cheap. At least that's the message I am getting.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Paul Winalski » Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:06 pm

You certainly won't see that policy in this forum. :wink:

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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Ian Sutton » Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:12 pm

Brian
Yes the whole points thing has probably been beaten to death, but for me I see no reason to stop ridiculing the points chasers and those that fuel them.

So keep the criticism up and indeed don't be afraid to challenge people who "only drink 90 point plus wines" to say what THEY thought of the wine.

Scores are very attractive to newcomers to wine - it seemingly takes the complexity and confusion out. They want to believe this "expert" can tell them how good a wine is. However, they need to be guided towards investigating their own palate, not that of someone else who has a book/magazine/pallet of wine to sell.

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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Tim York » Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:28 pm

In my experience of certain critics, e.g. Parker and Wine Spectator, I am more likely to prefer wines in their 85-89 range to many between 90 and 100. Indeed some of their 90-100 monsters would be in the low 70s for me.

I find that numerical ratings are useless without accompanying TNs which allow me to aim off for personal taste differences; Parker has decided to omit TNs from his Wine Buyer's Guide so I shall not buy it any more.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Ryan M » Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:34 pm

I think a score is useful if you understand what it means (which most point chasers don't). But if you make the cut at 90, you really do miss out on a lot of really nice wines, at the top end of the 'everyday drinkers.' I tend not to post my notes for wines that correspond to scores of less than 87, but only because those wines are usually not all that interesting or exciting; but occasionally they can be. Score may be a decent indicator of "technical merit," but isn't always good at telling you how much you will actually enjoy the wine. Problem is, score chasers will convince themselves that they enjoy a wine with a high score even if it tastes like animal sweat (i.e., Parker's apparent love of brett). Me, I don't think scores are a bad thing, but I pity the fool who drops $100 on a wine because of Parker's review and discovers they can't stand it, but will tell people they loved it, and maybe even convince themselves that they did.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Brian Gilp » Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:07 pm

Beside the obvious, I feel that restrictions on reviews by points (at any level) leaves out valuable information. It is difficult for me to accept a critics 90 point wine if I do not understand what is his 85 or 70 point wine and why. We have a joke of a food critic in the local paper that likes every place she reviews. The reviews therefore are useless. This is only slightly better. At least I know that there were other wines that were not scored as highly. I just have no idea what they were or why and therefore can not coorelate likes and dislikes of the reviewers to my preferences.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Carl Eppig » Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:17 pm

Brian Gilp wrote:I picked up a Wine & Spirits this week and flipping through the reviews noted that only those that rate 90 (or above or those that reflect great value) are printed.


Brian, you didn't flip far enough. I always go to the last page first. It is entitled "Entreme Values." In the current edition there are nine wines recommended; seven reds, one white, and one bubbly. They range in price from $8 to $10 and none are rated in the nineties or for that matter in the seventies. Salute.

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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Florida Jim » Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:32 pm

Brian Gilp wrote:So I guess only 90 point wines are worth drinking. Unless they are really cheap. At least that's the message I am getting.


Brian,
One might also look at the whole situation from a different angle.
How about this; reviewers sell wine - they may claim to be consumer advocates but in order to have any cooperation in the industry they need to be aware that their true function is to drive sales. Dis the fellows who make (and distribute) wine too often, lose any cooperation and credibility you have with them.
So, in order not to slap the hand that feeds them, they simply review only wines that are above 90 points (in they're opinion). Thereby appeasing the industry gods while continuing to stoke the notion that we should only buy/drink the "very best."
Let's face it; they would not be needed much if everyone thought for themselves and drank what they liked.

Certainly, this is a cynical view and is not necessarily the only thing that drives professional reviewers. Some have considerable experience and integrity. But to discount they're effects on the market is, at least, naive; no wine sales, no need for reviewers - a fact that is hardly lost on them and shouldn't be lost on us.

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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Ian Sutton » Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:43 pm

Ryan Maderak wrote:I think a score is useful if you understand what it means (which most point chasers don't). But if you make the cut at 90, you really do miss out on a lot of really nice wines, at the top end of the 'everyday drinkers.


From what I understand, there are a lot of wines below 90 "Parker Points" that are far more interesting than everyday drinkers (anything from Mount Mary or Hunter Semillon anyone?). It's just that they don't appeal to Parker's (or whoever's) palate.

It's a set of scores for his/her palate and I don't think you can even categorise the wines by score (apart from above 90 and the critic liked it a lot, below 90 and they liked it less!).

I agree that there are undoubtedly people who attempt to learn what a good/bad wine is by asking how many points it's been given and thus determining that they should like the wine because it's obviously good and their own undeveloped (sic.) palate is obviously not to be trusted.

I do pay some attention to critics and especially well-written TN's. Mostly this is a serious (albeit casual) interest, but occasionally a source of :roll: amusement.

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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Ian Sutton » Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:51 pm

Jim
Much truth in what you say (from both angles of the argument). Certainly I'm a fierce critic of points scales that are biased towards high scores. 50/100 points for turning up (on such scales a bottle of urine would score at least 50 points, bright and clear and it would get a few more points :twisted: )

Such scales are clearly pandering to the producers/merchants. Scoring a wine not at 80 points, but at 60 or even 40 would upset the applecart. It's too cosy.

For me, I've always been more comfortable seeing a 0-5 point (or star) scale. It's imprecision sends a better signal out and if anything, it's proponents weight it more the other way - plenty more 1stars than 2stars and so on.

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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Ryan M » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:25 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:For me, I've always been more comfortable seeing a 0-5 point (or star) scale. It's imprecision sends a better signal out and if anything, it's proponents weight it more the other way - plenty more 1stars than 2stars and so on.


About a year ago I finally decided that the 100 point scale has too much implied precision, so I switched to a descriptor system which although calibrated/based on the 100 point system, allows me more freedom, and takes the emphasis away from those pesky numbers. And you know, there are times I have considered just using stars, except that being a scientist, I like have just a bit more precision - even if it's arbitrary precision. ;)
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:45 pm

As someone who rarely puts scores to wine I do not get it either, but let me point out something. The two most recent issues of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate are massive, while generally only including reviews of wine that are 85 point scorers or higher. If he (and all his reviewers - a few of which I know well and have the greatest respect for in terms of them as people and tasters) were to include everything the publication would be very hard to manage.

There's a lot of good wine these days. If you don't agree with what a critic says about a particular wine then ignore them.

And please do not tar all wine reviewers with the same "only in a style he likes" brush. Try actually reading David Schildknecht's reviews in the Wine Advocate & you'll see that he is fairly even handed, regardless of style.

And the "50 points for showing up" argument is a red herring. So subtract 50 from all the scores.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby JC (NC) » Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:21 pm

I would say that if I were rating the wines I drink (I sometimes but rarely do give them a numerical rating based either on the 100-pt. scale or UC-Davis 20-pt. system) most of them would fall in the 85-89 range (very good) or 16-18. If a wine is only fair, I'm probably not going to buy it again and if I tasted it at a wine shop or wine event first, I wouldn't have bought it in the first place. So most of the wines I buy I find to be very good. I don't rate many wines as outstanding or above 90. When we were doing Chardonnay wines on Wine Focus I did have a Gueguens Chablis that I thought was outstanding and would have rated in the 90's. But that is the exception for me. I'm usually looking for a food-friendly wine that goes nicely with dinner--not a blockbuster, knock-my-socks off wine that is an experience in itself.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Ian Sutton » Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:37 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:And please do not tar all wine reviewers with the same "only in a style he likes" brush. Try actually reading David Schildknecht's reviews in the Wine Advocate & you'll see that he is fairly even handed, regardless of style.

Maybe he likes and appreciates a wide variety of styles? Maybe others have more focussed tastes. [TROLL ALERT, TROLL ALERT] ... would you say that Parker was ever anything but even-handed?

David M. Bueker wrote:And the "50 points for showing up" argument is a red herring. So subtract 50 from all the scores.

David
Both you and I know that (in fact many would argue it's more sensible to subtract 75 and call it a 25 point scale!). However Mr or Mrs. wine newbie won't know that. They see a shelf talker saying 91points out of a 100 and think "Wow that's special" - maybe even that it's in the top 10% of fine wines.

91/100 is certainly likely to influence a wine newbie than 41/50 or even 16/25. It will sell more wine.

I see it like the graphs that don't start at zero. If you know to look for it you'll see how it makes differences seem larger than they are, but if you're not savvy about the trick, you fall for the seemingly significant variations. I recall seeing a boardroom full of directors get caught out by it. This was unfortunate, as I'd prepared the slides and had to step in to help the presenter out when the wolves of the pack were baying for the blood of the underperforming regions. :oops: Definitely a lesson learned.

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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Nov 21, 2008 6:01 pm

Ian Sutton wrote: However Mr or Mrs. wine newbie won't know that. They see a shelf talker saying 91points out of a 100 and think "Wow that's special" - maybe even that it's in the top 10% of fine wines.


If we look at the entire universe of wine it probably is in the top 10%.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Tim York » Fri Nov 21, 2008 6:08 pm

JC (NC) wrote: When we were doing Chardonnay wines on Wine Focus I did have a Gueguens Chablis that I thought was outstanding and would have rated in the 90's. But that is the exception for me. I'm usually looking for a food-friendly wine that goes nicely with dinner--not a blockbuster, knock-my-socks off wine that is an experience in itself.


This nicely illustrates my quarrel with the 100 point scale as generally practiced. Why do we have to reserve 90+ points for "a blockbuster, knock-my-socks off wine that is an experience in itself"? For me "a food-friendly wine that goes nicely with dinner" is often far more worthy of a high accolade than these pretentious blockbusters.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Florida Jim » Fri Nov 21, 2008 7:01 pm

Tim York wrote:
JC (NC) wrote: When we were doing Chardonnay wines on Wine Focus I did have a Gueguens Chablis that I thought was outstanding and would have rated in the 90's. But that is the exception for me. I'm usually looking for a food-friendly wine that goes nicely with dinner--not a blockbuster, knock-my-socks off wine that is an experience in itself.


This nicely illustrates my quarrel with the 100 point scale as generally practiced. Why do we have to reserve 90+ points for "a blockbuster, knock-my-socks off wine that is an experience in itself"? For me "a food-friendly wine that goes nicely with dinner" is often far more worthy of a high accolade than these pretentious blockbusters.


Tim,
While I agree, I suspect that some of this is more a product of geographic location and socialization - that is to say, the U.S. (the market that most wine reviewers are aiming at) is a country weened on soda pop and often taught that bigger is better. Broad generalizations, no doubt, but not without a kernal of truth.
And then too, finesse is not as easy to "quantify" as power.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Ian Sutton » Fri Nov 21, 2008 7:21 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:
Ian Sutton wrote: However Mr or Mrs. wine newbie won't know that. They see a shelf talker saying 91points out of a 100 and think "Wow that's special" - maybe even that it's in the top 10% of fine wines.


If we look at the entire universe of wine it probably is in the top 10%.

and cheap chaptalised acidic plonk in the top 50%...? I didn't want to choose such an obvious example...

but coming back to the question - would you argue that they'd be just as impressed to buy a 16/25 wine or a 91/100?

Oddly, the person who could break the shackles of the scale weighting is Parker himself.If he changed, he has the following and commercial support to carry it off. It would be the act perhaps of a consumer champion/advocate.

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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:52 pm

We're going to stop publishing any kind of scores (not that we ever emphasized it).
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby David M. Bueker » Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:12 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:
but coming back to the question - would you argue that they'd be just as impressed to buy a 16/25 wine or a 91/100?

Oddly, the person who could break the shackles of the scale weighting is Parker himself.If he changed, he has the following and commercial support to carry it off. It would be the act perhaps of a consumer champion/advocate.


91 out of 100 is easy to understand. A 16/25 requires math. Most people do not want to do the work.

The scores make wine easy for people. That is actually one of the things that makes Parker a champion of the consumer. If Parker gave 98 points to a light, refreshing kabinett there would never be any arguments, but instead his tastes run to more "substantial" wines.

It's interesting that nobody ever gets up in arms about a high scoring Chablis. I wonder why not. Dauvissat, Raveneau & Fevre all received very high scores from David Schildknecht in the latest Wine Advocate. I suppose those are examples of blockbuster wines that do not go with food and are better suited for people weaned on soda pop. :roll:

I know I am never going to change peoples' minds on this issue, but you are all arguing for wine elitism where people have to read the notes to understand whether the wine is going to be interesting for them. The alternative is to buy all the wines and do their own mega-tastings (a very expensive and unwieldy solution).

You may not like scores, but they are the great leveler. Parker earned his place in the wine universe. He is not stepping down and shouldn't.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Sam Platt » Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:33 am

Points are just a handy way to quickly convey ones opinion. I consider them one more piece of avaible information. I have to be honest in saying that for wines under $20 I will try just about anyting, regardless of score/review, if it interests me. Above that I become more selective, and I rarely buy any wine above $50 that I have not read/heard a favorable review for. Doesn't have to be "90+" per se, but I want some reliable indication that I will like the wine that I am splurging on.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Tim York » Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:37 am

David M. Bueker wrote:It's interesting that nobody ever gets up in arms about a high scoring Chablis. I wonder why not. Dauvissat, Raveneau & Fevre all received very high scores from David Schildknecht in the latest Wine Advocate. I suppose those are examples of blockbuster wines that do not go with food and are better suited for people weaned on soda pop. :roll:



Bravo for David Schildknecht. If he were an example of the general practice, I would be quite happy with the 100 point scale.
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:47 am

You are up early Tim. I am just off to bed after a delicious `02 Foggo Old Vines Grenache from McLaren Vale. Have a nice weekend!
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Re: Reviews for only wines that score 90 pts or more

Postby Florida Jim » Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:14 am

David M. Bueker wrote:It's interesting that nobody ever gets up in arms about a high scoring Chablis. I wonder why not. Dauvissat, Raveneau & Fevre all received very high scores from David Schildknecht in the latest Wine Advocate. I suppose those are examples of blockbuster wines that do not go with food and are better suited for people weaned on soda pop.


David,
Leaving aside the argument for and against points, and admitting that when wine I like gets high scores I am pleased, don't you think it somewhat convenient that Schildknecht was an outspoken opponent of the point system of scoring wines and yet has folded himself nicely into the stable of reviewers that are the greatest proponents of the system?
I read his explanation of why and how he could do that. It was cogent, logical and, IMO, so much smoke and mirrors.
And BTW, I use his example because you keep referencing back to him. I like his body of work and respect his talents. But I also think he is a glaring example of what commercialism can do to stated principals - not that I would not follow him given the chance. But I would not, and do not believe, that one can have it both ways.
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