Snowed in, so yet another Ratings Rant: Wine Spectator vs. Darts?

In the spirit of stock picks versus darts, I really question whether the “very good” syrahs(not the clearly best of the best) on the link below(many scoring 87-92) whether there would be ANY statistical significance versus a panel of palates on this board." onclick=";return false;

For my palate, Tanzer/Raynolds and even WE/Heimoff are more consistent, even if WE is guilty of some general grade inflation. I was speaking to a top-tier CA winemaker a while back who said, while many don’t agree with Parker’s palate tastes, at least he is fairly consistent and he felt he was actually fairly honorable. He said Spectator seemed inexplicably random at times. Wine Enthusiast doesn’t seem to get any respect, but I’ll take heimoffs ratings and deduct 2 points any day to get a sense of what I would like versus spectator.

I’m not sure i am even going to even turn in my airline points to subscribe to spectator any more, no less actually pay for it.

I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I think the 100 point system is pretty silly, but I fully appreciate how a high score can boost sales and help out our favorite winemakers.

On the other hand, when a producer I like gets an 88, it is ok with me as I know the mindless prospecting and price increases can slow down a bit.

As many have stated before me, Spectator is as much a travel and tourism magazine as a wine guide, their scores don’t move me one way or the other.

Thanks for posting the list, I agree some of those scores are all over the place for wines that for me seem stylistically the same. I feel the problem with scoring for publications is you really get only one shot at it, who knows where your palate might be that day. I know for me there are days I really love a wine and then the same wine on a different day just doesn’t do it for me. I’m sure it isn’t feasible, but it might be nice to see scores based on tasting multiple times over a period of several weeks.

+1. Also keep in mind: WS does their tastings blind, which, I think, explains a lot.


If you read Heimoff’s notes, they’re very useful. Scores are less useful, but there descriptions tend to be more stylistic/structural than bunches of adjectives. He has a California palate, for sure, but it seems he pays more attention to acid balance than most critics.

Does WS have one critic do all of those wines? If not, there’s the explanation -Parker’s one guy so, as are Tanzer and Heimoff do there’s inherent internal consistency. If those WS scores are from different writers you lose that and, in fact, encourage a diversity of scores. The downside is that you can’t use the scores as a buying guide since the scores can’t easily be compared with one another if they come from different writers.

I don’t read a ton of Heimoff notes, but that said, when he throws down a big score(say 93+) on a Cali, I almost always agree that its a really good wine(just maybe with lesser ratings than he gives). With Spectator, sometimes its a bit inexplicable and sometimes wines that are almost 100% over 90 on CT with tons of reviews are Laube 85-86? Heimoff does seem to value acid balance and complexity more.