- Category: Newsletter Archives
October 2023 ... It has been almost two months since last we spoke - I was letting a little thing by my podcast partner, André Proulx get some oxygen - if you have not seen his Canadaland piece, I recommend you find it and listen - I will make it easy on you (here).
Myself, I am once again thinking about wine scoring and how things have gotten out of hand - which I discuss in the piece below; I also introduce you to my new proposed scoring system ... let me know what you think about it.
Below in the rest of the newsletter you'll find the usual links to videos, articles and podcasts that I have been a part of creating. Hope you enjoy them all.
Thanks for reading.
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Musings from a Wine Soaked Mind ...
Robert Parker revolutionized the wine writing world with his 100-point system. He broke it down in a way the average Joe could understand. We’ve all been to school, we know the system. But something has gone seriously wrong with the system. I've never talked to Mr. Parker; nor have I met the man, but I'm sure the scoring system he introduced to the world was not supposed to work like this: Not in the way it is used now.
When Parker's started, he created a 100-point system, but to be honest, the system began at 80 and moved up. It was basically a 20-point system (similar to the one Jancis Robinson uses) - but instead of starting at 1 Robert Parker started at 80. Yes, some wines got 70s and 60s – but people paid little attention to those.
Back then 87, 88 or even 89? We're good scores. But it would seem today scores have gone crazy. In 2023 scores like that are a kiss of death. No one wants to see a wine score that starts with an 8. I have often been asked to change my scores into the numeric system ...and I have fought long and hard to keep my star system, I find it much more honest. Wine is not an essay, it can’t be graded on that scale - wine is not a math test, there is no right answer … wine is more nuanced, which is why the star system and its more broad strokes look at wine appeals to me.
Today, if your wine doesn't get 90, you're nobody. And it would seem a lot of writers are happy to oblige, starting their scoring at 90, and going up from there. So if we are going to look at scores that have gone haywire, it is time to take it to the next level.
It's time to fight back against all those over-inflated high scores that we see from Italian writers, Australian writers and British writers looking to make a name for themselves by jacking up their scores. We have Canadian writers do the same thing, bastardizing the system to suit their own needs and desire for adoration - to see their name on the bottle of wine that sits on your table. Everyone is looking for that elusive 100-point score. There's even a guy from Italy named Luca Maroni who seems to be giving out 99s like their candy at a kid's party. I often wonder to myself what is Luca missing to knock the wine down by one point? I think it's time to add an honest Canadian voice to the mix, one willing to tell you exactly what he's doing.
First a little background for my theory: Back in 1998, there was a book written called The 10% Solution to a Healthy Lifestyle, written by Ray Kurzweil. According to our friends on Wikipedia, the book was about reducing fat levels in your diet to 10% ... Which could "save your life". Another 10% solution was offered by Mark Allen, his "life-changing" book offered readers the chance to find solutions "that confronted them - individually and globally". Since then, everyone seems to have a 10% solutions, from The Simpsons to MacGyver. It's time to apply that solution to the wine world. For me, it starts right now.
It's time to change things. If 90’s are being given out like water during a marathon. They have little to no meaning – these days I see a 90 and I think the reviewer didn't like that wine very much.
It is my belief that a winemaker should give 110% every vintage ... That's why I'm going to start my scale at 100, and look for those wines that give 110%. If 100 is what you are looking for, then you've got it. It's now the starting point. You're now striving for 110 – then you know you've got yourself one hell of a wine. It means you've given me what I'm looking for, you've gone above and beyond.
Now, everybody get out there and give me 110%.
Click on any wine name to see the full review:
Big Head Wines 2020 Chardonnay Select ... **** ... (NEW SCORE: 104)
Chateau de Charmes 2020 Equuleus ... **** ... (NEW SCORE: 104)
Featherstone 2020 Gamay Noir ... **** ... (NEW SCORE: 105)
Ravine Vineyard 2020 Cabernet Franc, Lonna's Block ... **** 1/2 ... (NEW SCORE: 108)
Ravine Vineyard 2020 Cabernet Franc, Nancy's Block ... ****+ ... (NEW SCORE: 106)
Henry of Pelham 2017 Cuvet Catharine, Carte Blanche ... ****+ ... (NEW SCORE: 107)
The Non-Ontario Selection ...
Comte Jean Baptiste de Monpezat 2020 Gouleyant - Malbec de Cahors ... ****+ (NEW SCORE: 106)
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