Burgundy ratings vs Bordeaux

Hi Walter,

Welcome to the board.

I think the consensus here is that burgundy is graded differently than other fine wine regions. My explanation is the region never succumbed to the Robert Parker school of wine style, and the grade inflation associated with it. Yay, burgundy!

If you look at prices, Burgundy didn’t suffer for its decision.

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Frankly, you need to taste some Bordeaux and some Burgundy and see which you like better. The rest of the discussion is just noise.

I don’t say this flippantly. It is really hard to compare wines from different regions of the world by comparing points. While there are many regions now competing with Bordeaux and Burgundy, for several hundred years, these wines have been the most important wines in the world. And, they are at different extremes of wine. Bordeaux rates estates, not terroir. The wines are from a mixture of grape varieties rather than from one grape type. Bordeaux wines are richer than Burgundy for the main part and a great Bordeaux really impresses people with its combination of power and finesse.

Burgundy rates terroir, not estates. While there is only one Chateau Latour, there can be 75-100 Clos Vougeots - some of which are substantially better than others. Burgundy is more seductive than Bordeaux IMHO and is more likely to seduce you than to impress you. It is less about power and more about this finesse and seduction. In fact, a lot of people (like me) don’t like powerful Burgundies if it means that the wine is less seductive - i.e., it loses some of its elegance.

Which is better? Only you can answer that for the only person who really matters - you.


I’d generally take a 96 pt Burgundy ( oh they are so rare) over a 100 pt Bordeaux , but I guess that’s just Pinot preference. So no , I don’t think they are comparable .

Scores don’t matter.


Yeah pretty much this. A “pointless” comparison really.

While I appreciate the above sentiment…yes scores do matter, reviews matter, and the op posting question is quite interesting. While I might agree that in and of themselves they have less relevance, I think how they are applied is relevant. Perhaps looking at CT scores as they relate (bordeaux vs burg) would be a more interesting comparison.

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Scores matter in the marketplace, but directly comparing scores for Bordeaux and Burgundy is like trying to score baseball and skiing on the same scale. Yes, they are both sports, but there are critical differences that make a direct score comparison useless.

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I think your avg consumer would not agree. If they went to a store and a 92 pt burg was next to a 96 bordeaux, my guess is they would not think hockey vs tennis (because they are both on 100 pt scale… as opposed to "love 40 vs 2-1). My guess is they would conclude the bordeaux at 96 is better than the burg at 92.

Which is why I said they matter in the marketplace.

It’s just that directly comparing the is meaningless other than as a tool to sell wine as opposed to assessing relative quality of very different wines.

Hi John, if for example you are a wine maker or a retailer then yes numerical scores matter - since they can directly affect your business. But as an end consumer who already knows what I like; absolutely categorically score don’t matter. I do not use them for any wine buying decisions and have not done so for a long time now.

Without intending to have a go at the OP personally; the question asked “Is a 96 point DRC inferior to a 100 point Lafite?” shows a level of naivety about how wines are scored and the (well known) limitations of the 100 point system. Not an attack on the OP - just my view.

I would also advise the OP that buying Burgundy or Bordeaux should never be based on points, rather it should be based on your personal style and taste preferences. It may require the OP to do some work to figure out what their preferences actually are in a region that is new to them but that is part of the fun our wine journey in life.

cheers Brodie

99 percent of those that go to the store/wine shop would have no idea what you are talking about given the same scale is used for both regions. While I have no qualms and in most respects agree with your view…surely you must agree that it is confusing as hell, and makes little to no sense for the other 99 percent (which by the way is “stating the obvious” the majority of consumers). It even becomes more of a quandary when two cabs from two different regions are compared OR two pinots from two different regions are compared. In summary, I think the op poster ask a very good question. My view!

I reckon the WBers represent a whole lot less than 1% of the wine buying population and so the issues around points being confusing to the general wine buying population is really not a topic we can meaningfully relate to!

I get a smile when you say “it as confusing as hell” as I feel you are kind of making my argument for me(that points a pointless)! If they are really that confusing then they are failing at their most fundamental task which supposedly is to “objectively” communicate some measure of absolute quality. Which is where I was starting from.

Anyway, good luck and welcome to the OP


The problem with comparison is:

BDX is compared on a 100pt scale with the past 5 (maybe 10) vintages of BDX.

Burg is compared on a 100pt scale with the entirety of time of all wine ever made in the past and the future.

Why do you say this?

That‘s not really the case. Look at the Wine Advocates 2019 ratings:

Burgundy: 6 x 100, 47 x 97 to 100
Bordeaux: 5 x 100, 29 x 97 to 100

The big difference is (and I think that‘s the reason people believe that Burgundy get lower scores), that you can actually buy the high scoring Bordeauxs whereas the high scoring Burgs are hardly available due to scarcity.

Another point: wine are always scored respective to their regional peers. So point/score comparisons between different regions are not a thing.

That’s my perception of how these ratings are handled. In any decent vintage, BDX will basically always have some 100 pt wines, some 99s and then down from there. It’s a given.

When they rate Burg it’s like, well, it’s a truly amazing wine, almost perfect, but it’s not quite as good as the '90 or '45 or whatever, 95 pts.

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One would expect more consistency in Bordeaux scores because the château have much larger production and thus more ability to have a more consistent product by using different blends, declassifying more/less fruit into second and third labels, less likelhood of adverse weather effects in a small area (hail in Chambolle in 2016, eg) and the general consistency that comes with a larger production.

I would also say Bordeaux drinkers are more focused on “great” historic vintages than Burgundy drinkers are, for many reasons. Pinot survives worse, backfilling consistent old burgundy outside of Europe is very hard, because Burgundy was much more of a vigneron product in the past it was more inconsistent, generational changes at Domaines often cause massive stylistic shifts, etc etc.

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While I absolutely agree with this, one should recognize its consequence, which is that all scores are meaningless. If wine can’t be, like a math test, scored on a scale, because what one appreciates in bordeaux is different from what one appreciates in burgundy, then the same can be said for comparing Paulliac with St. Estephe, not to mention, comparing what Leve values with what Alfert values. Obviously, one can’t coherently compare a wine with a novel, but either one can compare a wine with a wine, and a score will work, or one can’t compare a wine with a wine and it won’t. I’ll plump for the latter, but I recognize that plenty of people plump for the former.

I actually think this is an entirely valid, and indeed interesting, question. (As a region that attracts even more high scores than Bordeaux, I’d be tempted to add Napa to the equation). Certainly, comparing Bordeaux and Burgundy is like comparing chalk and cheese. But, I do think that both the proportion of high scores and how high those high scores are may be taken to give a sense of where a given publication situates a given region in a global context in terms of quality. It would require an argument of considerable sophistry to convince me that the best regions shouldn’t get, overall, the best scores.

This question was raised over on the Vinous forum a year or so back, so people might find it interesting to dig up that thread and read the discussion (Vinous | Explore All Things Wine). It is something we have also discussed quite a bit internally at TWA. Arguments in favor of the status quo have tended to emphasize the fact that Burgundy as a rule doesn’t deselect into second wines (though nor are its terroirs so heterogenous: it isn’t obvious to me which part of e.g. Musigny one would want to declassify, whereas clearly some parts of Mouton’s vineyard holdings are a lot better than others); the fact that Burgundy doesn’t blend grape varieties (though not blending varieties doesn’t seem to impede Pétrus from getting high scores) etc etc. I haven’t really found them compelling; and clearly, if you look at Burgundy prices, neither does the market.

If I were to speculate, I might venture that on the one hand, generalists who review Burgundy as well tend to come to Burgundy after cutting their teeth on Bordeaux or California; whereas specialists who review Burgundy have tended to be terroiristes who are heavily invested in the notion that a village wine can never be better than a premier cru and a premier cru rarely better than a grand cru. Both tend to limit scores. I’d add that it is also easier to score Burgundy candidly, in that producers sell their wines anyway, and don’t really care about the scores. Scores that the Bordelais would consider a fail rating, such as my 95+ for Lamy-Caillat’s 2017 Caillerets, also don’t seem to hold back wines in the market (indeed, I’d argue that Burgundy scores, being more credible, are actually taken more seriously). In Bordeaux, by contrast, one is put under immense pressure, and scores are a constant topic of conversation. I think I’ve related the story of the proprietor of the 96-point classified growth who began our meeting with “so you didn’t like my 2019?” shortly after the review was published. I’ve even received a lawyer’s letter about one bad Bordeaux review I gave. So the path of least resistance is very clearly to score higher.


Hi William,

I’d take the path of most resistance and tell them to go fuck themselves!