Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

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Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#1 Post by Jim Stewart »

Let's see if I can get this question out coherently. . .

The question is for those of you who score wines, regardless of whether you score numerically (e.g. 0 to 100) or qualitatively(e.g. "not recommended, recommended, recommended+, highly recommended, highly recommended +"). Is your scoring 'absolute', regardless of the class of wine. In other words, do you use the same criteria for scoring for a $20 wine as you would for a $200 wine. Or is your scoring 'relative' in some sense to the class of the wine?

What prompted this question? I looked at CT scores for a well regarded white burgundy in the $100 range and saw an average score of 91. I also see the occasional $25 +/- bourgogne blanc or chablis rated about the same average score. If you were the person who gave each of these wines a 91, can I conclude that you judge these wines in some sense to be "equally good", or is the score relative to other wines in the "class" - e.g. premier cru burgundy scored relative to one another?

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#2 Post by Otto Forsberg »

Jim Stewart wrote: September 26th, 2020, 10:34 am do you use the same criteria for scoring for a $20 wine as you would for a $200 wine.
Yes. One thing I've learned that high price doesn't mean high quality.

If I rate a $15 wine 95 and a $150 wine 94, that means I'd favor that cheaper wine if both were poured to me blind. However, it's always more difficult to compare if wines are made in very different styles.

However, if a friend offered me a pour, I'd probably go for the $150 wine just because those tend to be harder to come across.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#3 Post by Wes Barton »

Absolute.

You see CT ratings influenced by critics all the time. The old cliche was people giving a high (like 94) rating to a big, over-ripe, overly oaky wine they did not like. Absolutely nuts. "This wine is undrinkably revolting. 94 points."

As has been discussed in recent threads, some of the most prominent Burg critics are notorious low scorers. It's not surprising their readers would calibrate to them. Like any good lemming would.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#4 Post by Anton D »

Absolute by grape/variety.

Absolute regardless of price.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#5 Post by Roberto Cusato »

How does Wine Spectator rate? To me it’s puzzling that for instance this year Oregon whites or California chardonnays have more 90+ points than White Burgundies. No offense to Cali whites which I enjoy - but they are on different categories of quality altogether.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#6 Post by Michael S. Monie »

I guess the moral of the story is that all 93 point wines are not created equally. When critics rate with numerical scores, it's important to know are they judging short term desirability or long term potential. While two wines may receive the same score, they could be based on very different assessments.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#7 Post by Mattstolz »

Personally, i try to rate them on absolute enjoyment. I will say though, that sometimes part of that absolute enjoyment is the surprise of finding such a great deal. If that is the case, I will typically note it as such in the tasting note ("+1-2 points for being an absolutely killer deal at $20!")

I tend to imagine that the price can influence the score in both directions though. One person knows theyre drinking a $200 bottle of white burgundy and so they are going to rate it 95 even if they dont like it because it was expensive. the person next to them is going to drink that same bottle, enjoy it less than a Walter Scott Combe Verte for $25 and so they are going to give it an 81 and call it an atrocious value. just depends on the kind of person you are and what kind of mindset you are in when thinking about the wine.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#8 Post by dsimmons »

I try to rate on an absolute basis within variety but must admit that bias certainly creeps in.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#9 Post by Anton D »

Roberto Cusato wrote: September 26th, 2020, 11:31 am How does Wine Spectator rate? To me it’s puzzling that for instance this year Oregon whites or California chardonnays have more 90+ points than White Burgundies. No offense to Cali whites which I enjoy - but they are on different categories of quality altogether.
This may be controversial, but I don’t see them in the same category, so I wouldn’t expect the ratings to be California Chardonnay ‘against‘ White Burgundy.

Like comparing dollars to ‘francs.’

That’s how I interpret those things.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#10 Post by GregT »

Wes Barton wrote: September 26th, 2020, 10:59 am Absolute.

You see CT ratings influenced by critics all the time. The old cliche was people giving a high (like 94) rating to a big, over-ripe, overly oaky wine they did not like. Absolutely nuts. "This wine is undrinkably revolting. 94 points."

As has been discussed in recent threads, some of the most prominent Burg critics are notorious low scorers. It's not surprising their readers would calibrate to them. Like any good lemming would.
This.

And what Otto said.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#11 Post by RichardFlack »

Wes Barton wrote: September 26th, 2020, 10:59 am Absolute.

You see CT ratings influenced by critics all the time. The old cliche was people giving a high (like 94) rating to a big, over-ripe, overly oaky wine they did not like. Absolutely nuts. "This wine is undrinkably revolting. 94 points."

As has been discussed in recent threads, some of the most prominent Burg critics are notorious low scorers. It's not surprising their readers would calibrate to them. Like any good lemming would.
Or other critics are notorious high scorers. [stirthepothal.gif]

Depends which end of the telescope you’re looking down. I recall 90 points used to mean excellent, as opposed to its current meaning of quite good.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#12 Post by Chris Seiber »

It should be absolute. In reality it’s usually relative. Kim Crawford Sauvignon blanc 91 points and so forth.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#13 Post by crickey »

If by "class" you mean price, then absolutely absolute. To do anything else double-counts the QPR aspect.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#14 Post by RichardFlack »

I would say, absolute within class. Price should not be a factor. QPR is for the comments. Isn’t that the point of blind tasting? You may know what the subject of the tasting is but that’s it.

Im not sure I see the point of scoring wines non blind, or worse tasted in a social setting. “There are no good wines , only good bottles” applies in spades when social setting and food are in play. “We had the Chablis with the jerk chicken which didn’t work so well, 85 pts” By all means comment but don’t score. This is directed CT type scoring milieus not the pros.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#15 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

Absolute, irrespective of variety or anything else.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#16 Post by Jim Stewart »

Otto Forsberg wrote: September 26th, 2020, 10:48 am
Jim Stewart wrote: September 26th, 2020, 10:34 am do you use the same criteria for scoring for a $20 wine as you would for a $200 wine.
Yes. One thing I've learned that high price doesn't mean high quality.

If I rate a $15 wine 95 and a $150 wine 94, that means I'd favor that cheaper wine if both were poured to me blind. However, it's always more difficult to compare if wines are made in very different styles.

However, if a friend offered me a pour, I'd probably go for the $150 wine just because those tend to be harder to come across.
Lots of slightly different takes on interpreting what I was trying to get at, probably based on my confusing wording. Otto, I think you have distilled my wordy stuff to the essence of my question. Price correlates pretty well with the idea of "class" that I was grasping at. Rephrased : "do you use the same criteria for scoring for a Village Chablis as you would for a Premier Cru Chablis?" If the answer is yes, this is what I meant by "Absolute". If the answer is no, this is what I meant by "Relative to Class"

Thanks for highlighting this and for your straightforward answer.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#17 Post by RichardFlack »

And course there is the Johnson system I’ve mentioned before (Hugh, not Boris), which I guess is relative at least when it gets into buying cases or the vineyard.

Seriously though, how does a 95 pt rating for Pinot compare to a 95 pt rating for Zin, unless one like both absolutely equally (that applies to both critic and reader).

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#18 Post by Marcus Dean »

Robert.A.Jr. wrote: September 26th, 2020, 3:55 pm Absolute, irrespective of variety or anything else.
I agree, but are you scoring for the drink now aspect or the potential?

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#19 Post by RichardFlack »

Jim Stewart wrote: September 26th, 2020, 4:01 pm
Otto Forsberg wrote: September 26th, 2020, 10:48 am
Jim Stewart wrote: September 26th, 2020, 10:34 am do you use the same criteria for scoring for a $20 wine as you would for a $200 wine.
Yes. One thing I've learned that high price doesn't mean high quality.

If I rate a $15 wine 95 and a $150 wine 94, that means I'd favor that cheaper wine if both were poured to me blind. However, it's always more difficult to compare if wines are made in very different styles.

However, if a friend offered me a pour, I'd probably go for the $150 wine just because those tend to be harder to come across.
Lots of slightly different takes on interpreting what I was trying to get at, probably based on my confusing wording. Otto, I think you have distilled my wordy stuff to the essence of my question. Price correlates pretty well with the idea of "class" that I was grasping at. Rephrased : "do you use the same criteria for scoring for a Village Chablis as you would for a Premier Cru Chablis?" If the answer is yes, this is what I meant by "Absolute". If the answer is no, this is what I meant by "Relative to Class"

Thanks for highlighting this and for your straightforward answer.
Yes, as they are both in the same class.
What about Chablis vs Sauternes? Or Mosel Kabinett vs TBA. Surely the expectations are different.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#20 Post by RichardFlack »

Marcus Dean wrote: September 26th, 2020, 4:09 pm
Robert.A.Jr. wrote: September 26th, 2020, 3:55 pm Absolute, irrespective of variety or anything else.
I agree, but are you scoring for the drink now aspect or the potential?
New thread. 😀

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#21 Post by Rich K0rz€nk0 »

Yes, absolute. Its hard enough to gauge one's 89 vs my 93 only to then factor in someone's view of "class".

The scoring system is not perfect. It generally starts at 70 and progresses to 100. I try and work within the general norms of it on an absolute basis. Yet I've had times where I've seen wines that I've enjoyed and had at 90 tossed a 65. Why? Because someone else uses the entire spectrum of 100. To each their own, yet I found that supremely annoying and likewise another thread for digression.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#22 Post by Michael S. Monie »

Roberto Cusato wrote: September 26th, 2020, 11:31 am How does Wine Spectator rate? To me it’s puzzling that for instance this year Oregon whites or California chardonnays have more 90+ points than White Burgundies. No offense to Cali whites which I enjoy - but they are on different categories of quality altogether.
I think generalizations like this are inaccurate. There are some California Chardonnays that are world class and some white burgs that are quite ordinary.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#23 Post by Steve Costigan »

Independent of price, relative to the category of wine, and absolute with respect to my enjoyment. I score with respect to what a nominal wine is for the genre. By genre I mean a category such as left bank Bdx, CA syrah, red Burg, etc. A village Burg would have no advantage/disadvantage to a GC. A good to very good representative of a particular genre is a 3. Something significantly above average and/or compelling is a 4, less impressive than an average is a 2, etc, then add modifiers, pluses (for what I like) and minuses (for flaws). I really don't like the 100 point scale. 1 is pour down the drain, in case you're wondering, and 5 is my max reserved for standard-setting wines (to my palate).

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#24 Post by Sh@n A »

I score absolute. But this of course is influenced by what price points I drink, which is relative to other people. Said another way, a person who only drinks $10 wines may score an awesome $25 wine really high, where a person who only knows $200 wines may score that same $25 wine really really low.... and they will both call themselves absolute scorers.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#25 Post by Tom Lee »

Great question. Sometimes I think varietal is a factor. There have been countless Napa Cabs that have scored 100 points but I don't recall ever seeing a Zinfandel get 100 points. Why is that? Is Zinfandel at its very best only worth of 98 points?

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#26 Post by Kevin Porter »

There seem to be a couple of definitions of “absolute” in play. I’m personally with Anton on this - I rate absolutely but within grape/variety. So a red burg gets rated relative to other red burgs regardless of price and pedigree, but not relative to a Syrah.

Of course, it’s a moving target. When considering red burgs I’m not sophisticated enough to differentiate CdN from CdB, but were my palate better then I would consider that when rating. (I also do do points so I’m a 93 on whatever)

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#27 Post by Cris Whetstone »

dsimmons wrote: September 26th, 2020, 12:36 pm I try to rate on an absolute basis within variety but must admit that bias certainly creeps in.
Lots of good "points" made up thread by some usual suspects. What Don points out here is what I was going to say. Most people are going to say they rate on an absolute basis. If you read across a range of notes and scores by the vast majority of people it will become quite clear it's just not happening that way.

There are likely more than a couple reasons why. One of the big ones is that 90 is the sort of bottom line score for anyone if they want to say a wine is good. We would only like wines that are at least 90 pts of course. But what that means is that some cheap wine that was surprisingly good even if it's not actually a wine of top quality will get a 90 pts. But so will a solid 1er Cru or mid tier win from a top house that is clearly of better quality than the $14 close out cheapy that hit us right on the right evening.

The flip side of this is that any wine rated under 90 is assumed to be not worthy of drinking. Which by any average definition of what the scales are supposed to be would be completely false. Something rated in the 80-89 pt range should be worthy of drinking and enjoying.

The "100" point scale that is a de facto 9 point scale ends up creating a big distortion. It's difficult not to fall in with because the greater dialogue out there reinforces the distortion. To use the scale more reasonably creates situations where people wonder why someone trashed a wine by giving it an 89.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#28 Post by Wes Barton »

RichardFlack wrote: September 26th, 2020, 4:11 pm
Marcus Dean wrote: September 26th, 2020, 4:09 pm
Robert.A.Jr. wrote: September 26th, 2020, 3:55 pm Absolute, irrespective of variety or anything else.
I agree, but are you scoring for the drink now aspect or the potential?
New thread. 😀
I can answer that for me. Notes, notations and absolutely no compulsion to give a wine a rating at all.

"Needs at least 15 years."
"Nice now, but will probably be much better with at least a decade."
"92+"
"92++"
"(92-94)"
"(94)"
"There's a lot of stuff going on in this wine. With enough time, it may evolve into something impressive, or at least drinkable, or it might always be unpleasant. No idea."
"This is really good now but has so much going on and everything it needs to age well and improve quite a bit. 92++"

My standard is the pretty common NOTES-SCORE-DRINKING WINDOW format. If I say "Drink 2035-2060" I absolutely mean don't drink before 2035 - and there should be something in the notes indicating why clearly enough.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#29 Post by Marshall Manning »

Tom Lee wrote: September 26th, 2020, 6:07 pm Great question. Sometimes I think varietal is a factor. There have been countless Napa Cabs that have scored 100 points but I don't recall ever seeing a Zinfandel get 100 points. Why is that? Is Zinfandel at its very best only worth of 98 points?

Tom

I've always found this one of the biggest flaws in scoring wine, at least for most critics. There should be a "perfect" example of any type of wine. But you'll never see anyone rate the most delicious Soave or Kerner possible 100 points, no matter how great it might be. When I score wine, it's by what that type of wine should be in my mind. So while I've never tried a wine I would consider totally perfect, theoretically I could have a 100 point Soave, Morgon, or Zinfandel.

The other flaw with most critics is giving points for "future potential" or other such garbage. You should only rate the wine on what it is showing when you taste it, not a guess as to what it might become. There are so many 95+ wines now that it means absolutely nothing (if you think it ever did), as all of these are factoring in what the wine might become, not what it actually is. It would be like a teacher grading a "B" paper an "A" because the student might learn to write better papers.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#30 Post by JBrochu »

Marshall Manning wrote: September 26th, 2020, 8:17 pm The other flaw with most critics is giving points for "future potential" or other such garbage. You should only rate the wine on what it is showing when you taste it, not a guess as to what it might become.
In that case, how in the world would anyone score new releases that need to lay down a long time? You could have some really great wines that need time getting absolute garbage scores, because they are nowhere near ready to drink.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#31 Post by RichardFlack »

Marshall Manning wrote: September 26th, 2020, 8:17 pm
Tom Lee wrote: September 26th, 2020, 6:07 pm Great question. Sometimes I think varietal is a factor. There have been countless Napa Cabs that have scored 100 points but I don't recall ever seeing a Zinfandel get 100 points. Why is that? Is Zinfandel at its very best only worth of 98 points?

Tom

I've always found this one of the biggest flaws in scoring wine, at least for most critics. There should be a "perfect" example of any type of wine. But you'll never see anyone rate the most delicious Soave or Kerner possible 100 points, no matter how great it might be. When I score wine, it's by what that type of wine should be in my mind. So while I've never tried a wine I would consider totally perfect, theoretically I could have a 100 point Soave, Morgon, or Zinfandel.

The other flaw with most critics is giving points for "future potential" or other such garbage. You should only rate the wine on what it is showing when you taste it, not a guess as to what it might become. There are so many 95+ wines now that it means absolutely nothing (if you think it ever did), as all of these are factoring in what the wine might become, not what it actually is. It would be like a teacher grading a "B" paper an "A" because the student might learn to write better papers.
But what about wines like classic claret that are not meant to be drunk today but in say 10 or 20 years time?
To evaluate say Ch Batailley (not a fancy wine) five years after vintage on "what it is showing when you taste it" would lead to a score of about 80 or less. I'm not sure how that helps anyone.
I dont think score are only about whats good to pop tonight. They are partly about "should I buy it", and partly about intrinsic worth.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#32 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Absolute
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#33 Post by JasperMorris »

I have tried to address this with the scoring on my Inside Burgundy website. Wines get their score out of 100 which is theoretically absolute, and inevitably means that nobody looks twice at a really good Bourgogne Rouge of Macon-Villages scored in the high 80s.
So alongside I add a star rating (up to 5) which is aimed at being relative. So Bourgogne at 89 is ***** but Musigny at 89 is just *. The idea is that really good wines from lesser appellations get their moment in the sun.
It is easier to do this given that I am critiquing wines only from one specialist area.
The judgement is by appellation not by price, so obviously those who charge much more than their neighbours for the same appellations are not delivering value at *** whereas an inexpensive cooperative bottling would be.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#34 Post by Sean S y d n e y »

I try to make it absolute but I also am a little more generous with really good value wines.

If a $30 wine that drinks wonderfully, I’ll bump it up a point or so because I feel like it should be rewarded. Likewise, if a $100 bottle is just okay, I may be more inclined to go with a lower number if I’m deciding between, say, an 88 and an 89.

That said, I’m not a high scorer, and I’m a firm believer of actually using the low to mid 80s. I think an 85/86 is a good, solid wine. I’m also comfortable with using my own palate as a guide and understanding that any scores I give reflect my own preferences. I’m not going to give the flabby, low-energy Chardonnay a 92 just because I know SOMEONE would like it, even if I can acknowledge it is objectively well made.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#35 Post by Richard Jen »

I remember seeing this from TWA website but a quick google search did not find it. Instead found on another site. https://www.auvimar.com/en/blog/23_robert-parker.html
Robert Parker tastes wines from all corners of the world. His scores are the result of his blind tastings or those of his faithful collaborators who take care of tasting in different parts of the world.
Wine tasting is done using the following scoring system. Any wine is given 50 starting points and then added according to:
• Color and appearance have 5 points.
• The aroma and bouquet receive up to 15 points.
• The passage of mouth and aftertaste receive up to 20 points.
• Finally, the overall quality level and the potential for future evolution and improvement receive up to 10 points.
When I see a review on CT with breakdowns 50+5+15+20+10=100 I take that score more seriously. Sure the points in each category can still be relative, but using a scoring sheet at least helps minimize emotion factors such as price.

I also read something about why some regions will never get high points under absolute scoring system.
Last edited by Richard Jen on September 27th, 2020, 6:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#36 Post by Paul @bbott »

Marcus Dean wrote: September 26th, 2020, 4:09 pm
Robert.A.Jr. wrote: September 26th, 2020, 3:55 pm Absolute, irrespective of variety or anything else.
I agree, but are you scoring for the drink now aspect or the potential?
This is where blind tasting gets difficult, I may find this harsh now, but if I know what it is, I may know that the Batailley mentioned above needs a decade. So absolute, but with an acknowledgement that now may not be its time.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#37 Post by RichardFlack »

One advantage of the current grade inflation is that good values are often to be found in the 87-89 point bracket.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#38 Post by Marshall Manning »

RichardFlack wrote: September 26th, 2020, 9:56 pm But what about wines like classic claret that are not meant to be drunk today but in say 10 or 20 years time?
To evaluate say Ch Batailley (not a fancy wine) five years after vintage on "what it is showing when you taste it" would lead to a score of about 80 or less. I'm not sure how that helps anyone.
I dont think score are only about whats good to pop tonight. They are partly about "should I buy it", and partly about intrinsic worth.
JBrochu wrote: September 26th, 2020, 8:24 pm In that case, how in the world would anyone score new releases that need to lay down a long time? You could have some really great wines that need time getting absolute garbage scores, because they are nowhere near ready to drink.
The answer to both of you is that the critics who do use a future prediction in there scores should say something like "92 currently, with possibility of a 6 point improvement with 15 years cellaring." I totally understand that many wines (and many of the wines I enjoy) need cellaring of 10-30 years, but it's simply IMPOSSIBLE to give an accurate, firm score to a wine's development that hasn't happened yet. Otherwise every wine could possibly be 100 points...you never know, right? Of course maybe that explains the "score creep" over the past 30 years [cheers.gif] ?
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#39 Post by Charlie Carnes »

I am definitely an absolute guy. I am sure that I have been swayed by influences other than the wine in the glass, but I try to be as impartial as possible.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#40 Post by Sean S y d n e y »

Marshall Manning wrote: September 27th, 2020, 9:28 am

The answer to both of you is that the critics who do use a future prediction in there scores should say something like "92 currently, with possibility of a 6 point improvement with 15 years cellaring." I totally understand that many wines (and many of the wines I enjoy) need cellaring of 10-30 years, but it's simply IMPOSSIBLE to give an accurate, firm score to a wine's development that hasn't happened yet. Otherwise every wine could possibly be 100 points...you never know, right? Of course maybe that explains the "score creep" over the past 30 years [cheers.gif] ?
I think you're right - mostly because I'm bemused when I come across a critic's note that reads something like "Showing absolutely nothing, reticent, will be magnificent in time but as of now completely inexpressive...93+."
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#41 Post by Barry L i p t o n »

The fact that statistically it doesn’t seem that people are rating it on an absolute basis doesn’t mean theiy aren’t trying to.

To do it otherwise renders the comparison meaningless, as in general you cannot distinguish class from price (chablis Village vs premier cru or Zinfandel vs. Cabernet). And if you try you adjust your store score for price value, you take one metric, quality and adjust it for another metric, value with the result that nobody understands your scoring because one subjective metric is hard enough to evaluate but a metric that is really too subjective metrics built into one is impossible to understand.

In order to get value from the absolute scores one needs to know the scorers palate. For price adjusted scored, I don’t see how I could do that unless the scorer was someone I tasted with regularly and had money discussions as well.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#42 Post by Wes Barton »

Sean S y d n e y wrote: September 27th, 2020, 10:02 amI think you're right - mostly because I'm bemused when I come across a critic's note that reads something like "Showing absolutely nothing, reticent, will be magnificent in time but as of now completely inexpressive...93+."
Isn't that part of why people look to critics? They have the experience to examine a wine that's effectively undrinkable on release and have reasonable accuracy in predicting what it will become. Experience tasting numerous verticals, following wines over time as they evolve, evaluating the impacts of vintage conditions, wine making decisions and techniques, etc.

You left out a drinking window in your fictitious example. But, you either trust a particular critic or not. If the note effectively says you will not enjoy this wine now. It needs 25 years to start showing well, and will start getting really impressive perhaps 40 years from now. That's not clear? Sounds like a wine you should either not buy, or should consider for your old age and for your children and grandchildren.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#43 Post by Roberto Cusato »

Anton D wrote: September 26th, 2020, 1:49 pm
Roberto Cusato wrote: September 26th, 2020, 11:31 am How does Wine Spectator rate? To me it’s puzzling that for instance this year Oregon whites or California chardonnays have more 90+ points than White Burgundies. No offense to Cali whites which I enjoy - but they are on different categories of quality altogether.
This may be controversial, but I don’t see them in the same category, so I wouldn’t expect the ratings to be California Chardonnay ‘against‘ White Burgundy.


Like comparing dollars to ‘francs.’

That’s how I interpret those things.
That’s exactly how I see it as well. I would rate a Macon-Village in the same scale of a Montrachet, but a 95 Napa Chardonnay would not signify that the wine is better than a 93 White Burgundy. Terroir, complexity, approachability at a young age, etc. make things very difficult to compare.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#44 Post by Roberto Cusato »

Marshall Manning wrote: September 26th, 2020, 8:17 pm
Tom Lee wrote: September 26th, 2020, 6:07 pm Great question. Sometimes I think varietal is a factor. There have been countless Napa Cabs that have scored 100 points but I don't recall ever seeing a Zinfandel get 100 points. Why is that? Is Zinfandel at its very best only worth of 98 points?

Tom

I've always found this one of the biggest flaws in scoring wine, at least for most critics. There should be a "perfect" example of any type of wine. But you'll never see anyone rate the most delicious Soave or Kerner possible 100 points, no matter how great it might be. When I score wine, it's by what that type of wine should be in my mind. So while I've never tried a wine I would consider totally perfect, theoretically I could have a 100 point Soave, Morgon, or Zinfandel.

The other flaw with most critics is giving points for "future potential" or other such garbage. You should only rate the wine on what it is showing when you taste it, not a guess as to what it might become. There are so many 95+ wines now that it means absolutely nothing (if you think it ever did), as all of these are factoring in what the wine might become, not what it actually is. It would be like a teacher grading a "B" paper an "A" because the student might learn to write better papers.
I disagree. A Pinot grigio will never be perfect. Some relativity is still warranted.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#45 Post by Roberto Cusato »

Michael S. Monie wrote: September 26th, 2020, 4:24 pm
Roberto Cusato wrote: September 26th, 2020, 11:31 am How does Wine Spectator rate? To me it’s puzzling that for instance this year Oregon whites or California chardonnays have more 90+ points than White Burgundies. No offense to Cali whites which I enjoy - but they are on different categories of quality altogether.
I think generalizations like this are inaccurate. There are some California Chardonnays that are world class and some white burgs that are quite ordinary.
That is very true. However Burgundy does a fairly good job with vineyard classification in letting you know that a village Chardonnay is probably not going to be as complex and as good as a $100 Chardonnay from California. But comparing a 95 points California Chardonnay with a Burgundy Premier Cru and Grand Cru is just senseless, as styles, terroir, and complexity are extremely different.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#46 Post by Roberto Cusato »

Also, only WS and BH have a somewhat consistent scale in rating wines. JS seems to start from a base of 90 (like, for real!), Decanter and Vinous are somewhat erratic. Still not 100% sure on WA. Also, WS and BH are the most conservatives.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#47 Post by Johan R »

I want to be absolute but I don’t think it is possible. There are just so many differences between wines that it is just not possible to capture the truth with scores. I can’t honestly say that I benchmark a 92 point Beaujolais (in my rating) against all wines I drink, be it nebbiolo, chardonnay, champagne, riesling, syrah... in effect I think I only benchmark against that, for exempel, 91 point Beaujolais I had previously, and so forth. But I don’t consider price, other than that I add some room in my scale for probable but not as of yet discovered quality of more expensive wines of the same region. Meaning that I assume that however much I enjoy a burgundy village, surely those Grand Crus and prestige producers I am not drinking must be better so I will assume my lowly wine can’t be 95+ points on my scale if I had access to every wine in the world.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#48 Post by David Glasser »

I try to be absolute but am not perfect. One of several reasons I use a poor, average, good, very good, excellent, outstanding scale rather than a 20 or 50 point scale. Too much variability.

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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#49 Post by Anthony C »

Put me at absolute scale, but I also give bonus for a $25 wine that shines and demote a $150 bottle that disappoints.

But the score is about why the one disappointed and the other did not. I'm always looking for balance, depth or layered flavors, and overall feel and finish. While I don't expect a 20 dollar bottle to hit me with three waves of fruit and have an ethereal finish, if it does, it deserves to score as well as it's expensive brethren.
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Re: Wine scorers: Absolute or Relative to "Class" ?

#50 Post by Otto Forsberg »

I think it is silly to promote/demote wine for its price. Scoring should be as absolute as possible and if a wine is of exceptional / poor value for the price, it should be commented in the description of the wine. When I am scoring wines in tastings, I prefer not to know the prices of the wines until I've tasted them just to minimize both the conscious and unconscious impact.

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