High Scores for Attention

… which got me thinking, “Do new-on-the-scene critics hand-out high scores in an effort to get noticed?”

Just my opinion: Yep! Helps getting them quoted on shelf talkers.

I think think this may have changed over the past 10+ years (although my experience doesn’t really go back further) as big scores have been handed out all over the place. Perhaps there would have been some peer pressure of not being taken seriously 15-20 years ago if you were throwing out a lot of 95+ scores. Today, you just fit in with a lot of other critics and on the converse if you’re a tough grader you get ignored by consumers and retailers and you never gain a significant following.

I would like to find tougher critics, but consistent ones. I find some of the current guys that have a tough reputation to seem to throw out ridiculously low scores for shock value too.

I do fall into the camp that thinks wines that are being made today (toward the top end) are, as a whole, much better than the wines of 30+ years ago. (I also think today’s professional athletes are bigger, faster, stronger and for the most part would kill the older teams.)


I do not know whether it is intentionally for attention but I find pinotreport.com’s scores to be quite high from the sample issues I have seen. Relatively high amount of 95-97 point wines, then the producers flaunt those scores (and as well they should). I’m pretty sure its high scores on shelftalkers (and in email blasts) gets increased visibility from consumers, and leads to additional subscriptions.

Funny, I was thinking the same thing this morning. Going through the wine emails, I noticed several very high WE scores. Delete.

Low scores for attention . . .

Wine critics are the only independent and impartial people in the world. The idea that they might have an incentive to inflate ratings to gain a competitive advantage over other wine critics is the kind of outrageous know-nothing blobberism you would expect from the internets.

The lack of ellipses and animated annoyances mean your post fails to break the 90 pt barrier.


What Keith said

I predict lawsuits dropped out of the Finger Lakes any moment now.

More seriously, there are two factors at play.

One is that some critics like Pinot Report are driven by a passion for a particular subset of wine which means their scores are naturally inflated vis-a-vis more globally oriented critics. It is what it is - reflection of preference not of deliberation.

Secondly, I am not sure exactly who you had in mind but it takes a lot of experience and depth for scores to get a proper distribution more globally. We all have experiences with a wine at a level above what we’ve tasted before which recalibrates our scale. A high rating is really best seen as a high ordinal ranking more than anything else. Again, not a product of concious thought.


One can only hope that the papers will be served on organically certified stock.

Recently for fun, I compiled all of the Pinot Report and Wine Spectator Cali Pinot scores over the same time period - basically as long as Pinot Report has been around. I compared the overall average score of the top 20 scoring wineries that both had in common. For example, the top scoring wineries in Wine Spectator’s list were Marcassin and Aubert, but Pinot Report didn’t review them, so I didn’t include them in the comparison. When I did the math, Pinot Report’s scores were on average 1.92 points higher than Wine Spectator. Some wineries did have a higher delta, some lower - as you would expect. But overall Grag Walter’s numbers weren’t shifted as high as I thought they might have been. It just seems that his highs are higher than Jim Laube’s.

Doesn’t that go to my #2 ? In other words, the PR would likely re-orient the other Pinots downward in the face of those two pushing the top.


The plaintiff of whom you speak is thinking about expanding into California now. No telling where the lawsuits are going to come from if that happens.


You need to get out more Brian.

Things are lonely in wine country, huh, Brian?

Mary Ann Worobiac (sp?) is now reviewing SB for WS, and she handed out 96-97’s.

I never saw Laube give such high scores for domestic SB’s.


With Parker and Miller (in particular) doling-out 95-plusses like they’re going out of style, I think you want to make your splash in the other direction.

Every once in a while I like to serve up any easy one for you guys neener [berserker.gif]

Thats one of the reasons I’ve never subscribed to Pinot Report. It seems every wine is a 95+

hopefully you don’t report it to the organic paper board cause that’ll result in less info for everyone!