How can any wine critic score a wine at a perfect 100? This is one critic’s explanation at Wine Spectator Magazine: http://www.winespectator.com/blogs/show/id/49223.
Wine Critics Impartial?
There are aspects of this piece that I agree with, especially with regard to defining wine as a snapshot of a moment in time. The wine experience is definitely more than a scientific examination of flavor components. This is a major reason why I was taken by wine in the first place. Yes, of course your situation and surroundings will affect your scoring of the wine, but aren’t the critic’s reviews as an authoritative resource supposed to be impartial… and therefore tasting should occur in a neutral environment? The more I learn about wine critics and their approach to scoring wine, the more I have come to ignore them.
Wine Critics Consistently Over-Score Wines
This drives me crazy! I have been moving towards placing more weight on collector’s reviews for several years now. CellarTracker scores are consistently 3-4 points lower than Parker, Kramer, Robinson, Galloni. Although, Stephen Tanzer seems a bit more conservative, if you look at a cross-section. Take some time to compare and you will see for yourself. At least their ratings are consistent in this regard, so the scores are not likely to be a bias towards a given producer. It almost seems as if they all want to believe the wine is better than it actually is? Is this some subtle coordinated promotional effort to advance the wine industry as a whole?
Perfect Wine, Ah… Really?
Here are a few recent Robert Parker, Jr. perfect 100’s that I have enjoyed:
2010 Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon
2006 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard
2007 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
2007 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon CCS
I am sorry, but the Bryant Family IMHO did not belong on this list, but I digress. Of course, anytime you discuss RP you have to take into account his penchant for big fruity wines. Still, are these perfect scores based on his perception when tasted, or based on projecting their profile after bottle-aging? I wouldn’t choose any of these, keeping the divergent criteria in mind. Don’t get me wrong , three of these were great wines and the fourth pretty damn good too, but perfect? I have tasted perfectly balanced 5 year old cabernet in an approachable style from Ladera, or a huge fruity, tannic monster from O’Shaughnessy that would be superior (IMO) after 10-15 years. Although, I wouldn’t score these at 100 either.
Can a 100 Point Perfect Wine Exist?
Everyone’s palate is different AND wine truly is enhanced by the environment in which it is being consumed AND obviously the wine critics make little effort to taste in a neutral environment… Of the wines I have enjoyed most in my life and matched my palate best, I would give none of them a perfect 100. In each case, there was something about them that could have been a little better. Now, I WILL say… some have been drunk in perfect settings, and I will remember them clearly my entire life!