jamie goode's wine blog

Monday, December 01, 2008

The clustering of point scores

Had a reader write in recently, making a very good point:

I'm wondering about points and the '100 point' scale and inflation and the tight range that wines score. What percentage of the wines you review score between 86 and 93 points? Not specifically referring to your use of this scale, but it seems to me that either there is inflation, or wines have got better in recent years (quite possible, I agree). In the old days, I thought that 80 was considered a good score. Sort of a Jacob's Creek Chardonnay and 90 or above was pretty damn awesome. These days it seems that for some people, anything below 85 is a bit of a failure. Though I'm sure you'll agree with me that scores are not the be all and end all, just a useful guide. By my worry is also not just about inflation, but clustering. To you, I'm sure there's a big difference between 93 and 89 points, yet in other walks of life, say your kid's result in a maths exam, that wouldn't be a big deal. [Andrew Halliwell]

The point is well taken. My scores cluster horridly - effectlively I'm using a 15 point scale, not 100 points. But then do Robert Parker's, and the reason I use this scale is because he has established it as the 'standard' scale for rating fine wines. What are your views?


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Jancis and Bob

Very nice to see a picture of HRH Jancis and Emperor Bob together - it was taken by Julia Harding this week at the Bordeaux Primeurs, where the two leading critics were sharing a hotel. It seems the oft-mentioned 'feud' between them is merely driven by media hype, and that it is possible for critics to disagree without hating each other. What next? Will we see a picture of Michael Broadbent arm in arm with Serena Sutcliffe?

The article explaining this meeting are found here and here


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

when the points don't work...more Chardonnay

Scoring wines with points shouldn't be taken too seriously. It's quite a useful shorthand for saying how much you like a wine - and in this sense, people who choose not to use points neatly avoid putting their necks on the line, because you can read a written description any number of ways.

But despite their utility, points fail in some circumstances. They convey no information about style and character - or about the sort of context where a particular wine might perform very well or badly.

Two Chardonnays that have recently passed my lips are good examples of wines where points aren't up to much. One is a big, fat Californian; the other, a remarkably intense Slovenian. Both could be enjoyed or hated, depending on the occasion and personal preference - information not contained in a score.

Simcic Chardonnay Réserve 2003 Goriška, Brda, Slovenia
3133 bottles produced in March 2006; this spends 7–8 days in contact with the skins. A deep yellow/gold colour it has a really interesting nose. It’s quite tight with some herbal fruit married with bakery smells and vanilla oak, but there’s also a savoury, slightly oily complexity here. The palate is dense, a little tannic even, with a heavy toasty oak imprint and sweet, bready, herby fruit. It’s a full-on Chardonnay of great intensity and concentration – no doubt a bit too full on for some. I like it, though. Very good/excellent 90/100 (H&H Bancroft) 01/07

Hess Select Chardonnay 2004 California
A fat, buttery Californian Chardonnay that’s rich and broad with thick tropical and figgy fruit. There’s also some sweet vanillin butteriness. It’s a seductive, immediate sort of wine whose obvious charms tire a little quickly, but if you like fat Chardonnays you’ll love this. Very good+ 85/100 (£8.49 Wine Society. Oxford Wine, D Byrne, Handford)

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