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The French Resistance


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The re-enactment of the 1976 Paris tasting has run into some snags. The US wineries that won the original tasting have opted not to participate, stating that they cannot "spare" any of their annual 30,000 case production for the tasting. And the French, well the French are adamant that the French wines not be tasted blind, nor in the same flight as US wines.

Mike Grgich, winemaker for the winning Chateau Montelana chardonnay and owner James Barrett are also at odds; Barrett refuses to attend if Grgich is invited.

Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Spurrier, who says he didn't set out to embarrass the French in his 1976 tasting, had hoped to avoid sniping this year by casting the event as a celebration, not a competition. "It's ironic that some of the wineries in California that benefited so much from the 1976 tasting are not participating," he says. "Someone has to be last and they don't want to be there."

Coq au vin, anyone?

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Mary Baker

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These things are always more natural and agreeable when spontaneous. To try even as a "celebration" to re-enact the Spurrier tasting inevitably gives it a different character from the original, to say nothing of public-relations freight which clearly has surfaced. (Maybe without the recent puerile nationalism among wine-drinking yahoos it would have been easier.)

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I wonder why Spurrier doesn't just pull the needed bottles from his cellar and do it without the owners around. Maybe he could fly in Mr. Grgich (I have a soft spot for him because my first "holy shit" moment with a Cali chard was with a Grgich) just to thumb his talented nose at the hesitant owners.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Too much politics involved now. The "lore" and aftermath of the 1976 tasting has transcended anyone's expectations aroung the original event one hundredfold. I suspect there won't be one for the same reason Parker won't do a retasting of wines under public scrutiny -- nothing to win and everything to lose.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Too much politics involved now.  The "lore" and aftermath . . .

Mere wine writing expands its audience when there's extra "bite" of some kind.

After the Spurrier tasting I remember another incident, which one of the US wine critics publicized (Anthony Spinazzola in Boston, 1979, possibly). The Guide Gault-Millau carried an unusual commentary that had France up in arms. Or was it the US. Here memory is even riskier than usual: but the magazine or a respected French writer in it said something like Bordeaux could learn a few things from California. (Point is, national or regional pride became the issue, rather than the possibly valuable critical or winemaking insight that the writer offered.)

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Got it! From the files. Spinazzola, Boston Globe. First a 1979 report on the hubbub, then a 1980 in-depth article surveying California developments. Gault-Millau had sponsored a larger follow-up to Spurrier's: in 1979, 330 wines from 33 countries, 62 experts of 10 nationalities. California "again held its own" and Gault-Millau wrote "there exist today in California some estates or establishments whose wines -- though considerably expensive -- can count among the best in the world." Spinazzola added that these estates "are not household names": Alexander Valley Vineyards, David Bruce, Burgess, Davis Bynum, Cakebread, Carneros Creek, Chalone, others.

Note that these were California wines made before 1980 and in my experience some of them were very, very good. (As were some from the 1960s, and some from the 1950s.) Note that "considerably expensive" meant (inflation-adjusted to today's dollars) around $50-$70. (I bought some.)

Expansion followed in the North Coast after 1980; massive investment and Napa Valley lifestyle tourist industry later still. The recent phenomena of very young California wineries getting three-digit prices from noisy cult followings were even later, a middle-1990s thing. It's not clear to me how much connection these later developments have to the maverick California products in the 1970s tastings (made largely without huge investments, movie stars, focus groups, etc.) that put their region's products on the international map.

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Why not just have an apples to oranges competition? Comparing French to American to Australian to Chilean to ... doesn't make a lot of sense. Different grapes, different terroir, different methods, different wine makers.

Its great fun to stir up everybody, but not very practical.

My 2 cents anyway.

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Unfortunately, you're so right, there's nothing to disagree with.  :hmmm:

It is fun to get everyone's knickers in a twist though, isn't it?

Welcome to eGullet, Dave!

Knicker twisting can be a lot of fun, but I find the problem is that far too many people are so serious that that don't know when they're being twisted.

The sort of competition I find fun is one where everyone tries to find the cheapest possible palatable wine. Palatable being the key word. We've done this both on trips including a notable one to France and as a bring your own bottle(s) to a dinner party.

The only 'rule' we set is that the bottle must have a cork; no screwtops or plastic caps. Even I have some degree of decorum.

Perhaps some "gulleteers" (Ok, word??) might like to have a go. The results are always interesting & the discussions around defining 'palatable' fascinating.

Thanks for the welcome.

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Too much politics involved now.  The "lore" and aftermath of the 1976 tasting has transcended anyone's expectations aroung the original event one hundredfold.  I suspect there won't be one for the same reason Parker won't do a retasting of wines under public scrutiny -- nothing to win and everything to lose.

Curious.

I have attended numerous public tastings with Parker wherein wines were "retasted" blind.

Same for Tanzer.

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Got it!  From the files.  Spinazzola, Boston Globe.  First a 1979 report on the hubbub, then a 1980 in-depth article surveying California developments.  Gault-Millau had sponsored a larger follow-up to Spurrier's: in 1979, 330 wines from 33 countries, 62 experts of 10 nationalities.  California "again held its own" and Gault-Millau wrote "there exist today in California some estates or establishments whose wines -- though considerably expensive -- can count among the best in the world."  Spinazzola added that these estates "are not household names": Alexander Valley Vineyards, David Bruce, Burgess, Davis Bynum, Cakebread, Carneros Creek, Chalone, others.

Note that these were California wines made before 1980 and in my experience some of them were very, very good.  (As were some from the 1960s, and some from the 1950s.)  Note that "considerably expensive" meant (inflation-adjusted to today's dollars) around $50-$70.  (I bought some.) 

Expansion followed in the North Coast after 1980; massive investment and Napa Valley lifestyle tourist industry later still.  The recent phenomena of very young California wineries getting three-digit prices from noisy cult followings were even later, a middle-1990s thing.  It's not clear to me how much connection these later developments have to the maverick California products in the 1970s tastings (made largely without huge investments, movie stars, focus groups, etc.) that put their region's products on the international map.

Max--

You either have an amazing memory or quite a library!

Your post prompted me to go back to Mr Taber's book--"Judgment of Paris"

Unfortunately, many people will focus on the excellent reporting Taber does in covering the "event."

What is special about the book is Taber also does a wonderful job in putting the event into context. In doing so there is a lot to be learned about the wine world at the time and how it has evolved.

I find that today there is a sense among some that there were the "good old days" back then in California and then there is today.

We tend to recall the good and forget the bad. While I remember many very fine examples from California (and Bordeaux) I also remember a lot of not so good and bad examples.

Coupled with Taber's book (and some other resources) my own recollection and perspective is that maybe some things weren't so different.

Were the California products of the sixties and seventies the result from "maverick's?"

The terrific biographies of many of the early "pioneers" in Taber's book indicate otherwise. Many of the vaunted old wineries were bought and run by wealthy entrepreneurs in the sixties and seventies-- many of whom were from out of state. Not much different from the post seventies influx of wine makers and winery owners.

Interestingly even in France Bordeaux Chateau were owned and operated by wealthy folks--many of whom made their money in outside the wine business. From the Bartons to the Rothschilds to Haut Brion etc. Same as today.

Cult wines?

There have always been cult wines (as long as there have been wines). One needs look no further than Petrus. As for California in the seventies and eighties Heitz was a "cult" wine and were the people who clamored for the winners of the Paris tasting any different from the folks lusting after (and driving up prices)

Colgin and Screaming Eagle?

There were probably fewer "cult" wines and smaller cults back then but then there were fewer wines available and fewer wine drinkers.

It is also very interesting to note that according to Taber, Steve Spurrier believed that the California wines were to "too alcoholic" and over- ripe.

Gee--isn't that the complaint about today's California wines?

Yes tons of money poured into California in the nineties (same for many other winemaking regions around the world--look at the history of Margaux and the rise of the negocients in Burgundy etc.

Wine styles have changed--fashion has always impacted the wine business.

I would argue that it is science--viniculture and viticulture that has had the greatest impact.

Today there are many more healthy wines produced (as a per cent of the total)--I have a list somewhere-- of all the bottles infected with Brett--I have just poured the last bottle of a case of 1986 Grand Puy Lacoste down the drain--at least five from the case ruined by unclean wine making. Lots of the seventies from Bordeaux were tainted. I also remember incredible bottle variation in cases of Cabernets from a lot of "cult" California producers from the seventies as well. (let's not even talk about Burgundy here).

And I still have memories of bottles of Cal cabs that were huge tannic monsters that never came around--the fruit dried out.

I also have memories of many very fine wines.

When we talk about the "good old days" though, one need a little perspective.

Same as when we lament the "current state of affairs."

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Max--

You either have an amazing memory or quite a library!

You're much too kind, JohnL. Please keep that comment in mind below.
We tend to recall the good and forget the bad.
??! (See above.)
While I remember many very fine examples from California (and Bordeaux) I also remember a lot of not so good and bad examples.
Sure enough, I remember that too. But good-bad wasn't the distinction in my posting.

Now I'm a fifth-gen. northern-California native happily following California wines since becoming interested in wine (middle 1970s). Fellow tasters older than I did so since the 1950s. Posting above is my view of the evolution of the premium California wine scene. When I observe, as carefully as I recovered the Boston quotation, that today's "cult" Cabernets differ from those in the Spurrier era, and that I've seen them appeal to newer wine fans, not to people who bought California wines in the Spurrier era, I get consensus about this from everyone I know (recently I asked a roomful), yet get dispute from you and Squires (who both acknowledge hanging around one particular critic). I'm lectured that "Heitz and BV Reserve were cult wines in their time" yet I paid $50-$70 (2006 dollars) in their time, to ordinary merchants, for wines with track records. I distinguish this only from ultra-allocated labels today that sell for hundreds, or have existed only a few years so no one has seen them age, or that generate clamors unseen in 1976 (by this attentive witness anyway). That's a distinction, in many eyes.

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Max--

You either have an amazing memory or quite a library!

You're much too kind, JohnL. Please keep that comment in mind below.
We tend to recall the good and forget the bad.
??! (See above.)
While I remember many very fine examples from California (and Bordeaux) I also remember a lot of not so good and bad examples.
Sure enough, I remember that too. But good-bad wasn't the distinction in my posting.

Now I'm a fifth-gen. northern-California native happily following California wines since becoming interested in wine (middle 1970s). Fellow tasters older than I did so since the 1950s. Posting above is my view of the evolution of the premium California wine scene. When I observe, as carefully as I recovered the Boston quotation, that today's "cult" Cabernets differ from those in the Spurrier era, and that I've seen them appeal to newer wine fans, not to people who bought California wines in the Spurrier era, I get consensus about this from everyone I know (recently I asked a roomful), yet get dispute from you and Squires (who both acknowledge hanging around one particular critic). I'm lectured that "Heitz and BV Reserve were cult wines in their time" yet I paid $50-$70 (2006 dollars) in their time, to ordinary merchants, for wines with track records. I distinguish this only from ultra-allocated labels today that sell for hundreds, or have existed only a few years so no one has seen them age, or that generate clamors unseen in 1976 (by this attentive witness anyway). That's a distinction, in many eyes.

Max

we are of the same era (very close anyway).

a "cult" wine is a 'cult" wine regardless of the relativity of price.

The market for fine wines has changed/evolved--the markets for many luxury products has changed as well.

Heitz and BV Reserve were cult wines--it is demand and price not just price alone.

(so was/is Petrus and many other wines from around the world).

Today is different from yesterday. There was no internet for eg. The world wide wine market was much much smaller--there was far less competition for fine wines. Britain was still the key market for Bordeaux and there was little demand around the world for American wines.

There certainly was little if any auction market here.

Wine styles were different.

wine styles have changed over the ages.

California then vs now?

Acres and acres of varietals were grown in the "wrong" places. it is fairly recently that growers and wine makers have begun to consider terroir when planting grapes.

as for "hanging around with Parker..."

Here's the deal. I read and subscribe to over a dozen various critics and writers.

I have no particular obsession with him. I do see a contingency of people who seem to endow him with superhuman powers. These folks bring up Parker as some sort of anti-christ of wine whenever they want to rail about some evil they seem to see.

I didn't even mention Parker in this thread until now (at least I don't think I did).

I also know that Parker was a big supporter of California cabernets produced in the sixties and seventies. Why? Simple--just read his early tasting notes and descriptions as well as the vintage reports and other prose.

So what exactly is the beef with Parker?

As for your "consensus"--I don't doubt there are many people who prefer earlier times to today. Same holds true for car buffs, stereophiles, sports fans etc etc etc.--"they don't make em today like they did back then..."

Every age sees many who look back wistfully at what was. There are usually at least as many who see only the bad. A few folks seem to be able to provide some perspective and take a more balanced view of things old and things new.

Age worthy?

Sure it is early to tell if some of today's wines will stand the test of time. It is also a fact that many wines from the so called "golden age" did not!

Let's remember though that California wines have --as a general rule--always been riper more early maturing wines (compared to say--Bordeaux)--in general.

I can say that IMOP--there are many Cabs from 84, 85, 91, 92 etc that are drinking beautifully right now.

I just opened 91 and 92 Beringer and Mondavi Private reserves--IMOP these are all magnificent wines.

Also the Chardonnays from Mount Eden and Hanzel from 96 and 97 are pure joy right now--pretty good age for a Cal Chard.

I also know of no one who will debate that important advances in viticulture and viniculture have been made in the last twenty five years or so to the benefit of wine making in general.

Anyway, to get back on topic--I believe that any re-enactment of the 1976 tasting would have little or no impact--the New World has long proven itself able to make world class wines.

The French have always made world class wines and still do (the world is just larger today).

Anyone who believes there is still something to prove by these silly contests--beyond a bit of jingoist fun--IMOP has an agenda--a bone to pick.

cheers

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Whatever you say, JohnL. :hmmm:

One more thing, a friendly tip. God made paragraphs, organization, concision, editing, Preview-Post buttons, patience, and writing tips.* While we can't know all His purposes, for these gifts it's tolerably plain. They aid readers, they show the writer's regard for both the reader and the matter. Please learn them. For God's sake.

Cheers -- Max

* Some sources of such tips have achieved classic status. In modern times, Strunk and White, the Fowler brothers, Mary-Claire van Leunen. In the 1600s Blaise Pascal famously regretted lacking time to write a short letter, sending a long one instead. Voltaire added:

Il faudrait penser pour ecrir

Il vaut encore mieux effacer

Les auteurs quelquefois ont écrit sans penser

Comme on parle souvent sans avoir rien à dire.

[it is necessary to think in order to write

It's even better to erase

Authors sometimes have written without thinking

As one often speaks without having anything to say.]

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Whatever you say, JohnL.    :hmmm:

One more thing, a friendly tip.  God made paragraphs, organization, concision, editing, Preview-Post buttons, patience, and writing tips.*  While we can't know all His purposes, for these gifts it's tolerably plain.  They aid readers, they show the writer's regard for both the reader and the matter.  Please learn them.  For God's sake.

Cheers --    Max

* Some sources of such tips have achieved classic status.  In modern times, Strunk and White, the Fowler brothers, Mary-Claire van Leunen.  In the 1600s Blaise Pascal famously regretted lacking time to write a short letter, sending a long one instead.  Voltaire added:

Il faudrait penser pour ecrir

Il vaut encore mieux effacer

Les auteurs quelquefois ont écrit sans penser

Comme on parle souvent sans avoir rien à dire.

[it is necessary to think in order to write

It's even better to erase

Authors sometimes have written without thinking

As one often speaks without having anything to say.]

Hi Max!

I am not sure what you are having difficulty with?

I suppose if one can't address the contents then one can criticize the style.

:wink:

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Great thread, very nice reading.

The blind tasting issue is always a heated debate... in every city, and in every circle. By circle I mean wine knowledge level. As a wine merchant, I host tastings of all levels, from the novice to the aficionado, and also the heavy hitters (be it the experts not ITB but also the big gun winemakers).

In my experience, blind tastings are a humbling experience.... to tasters in every level of expertise. Sure, there are some guys that have a gifted and/or extraordinarily sharp palate that will surprise you beyond your beliefs, but even the guru winemakers do make mistakes from time to time (if one is playing the guessing game).

For the consumer, I am a huge believer in the merits of tasting blind. A consumer should normally not have a predetermined agenda, therefore a blind tasting (correctly structured) is the ultimate decision-making tool.

Visit Argentina and try wines from the RIGHT side of the Andes !!!

www.terroir.com.ar

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This week Mark Fisher (Dayton Daily News) wrote a piece for WineSediments on the Well Fed Network on the logisitcs of planning the tasting. In the article he interviews Steven Spurrier about the difficulties of planning this tasting.

But the compromise methodology that Spurrier worked out does appear to preserve the integrity of the wine evaluation: it gives the wine judges who evaluate newer vintages of French and California wines the choice of tasting "double-blind" -- knowing neither which wines are being tasted nor the origin or identity of the wine in front of them -- or a variation of "semi-blind" -- knowing which specific wines are to be tasted but not the order in which they'll be poured.

And the tasting is TODAY!

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Well, well! Pick your story . . .

The Results are In - Judgment of Paris

The 30th anniversary of the most famous winetasting in history, the "Judgment of Paris," was simultaneously and jubilantly recreated at COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts and Berry Bros. & Rudd, in association with Steven Spurrier-wine writer, author and creator of the original event.

It's official: California wines beat the French

Exactly 30 years after the historic Paris wine tasting that changed the wine industry forever, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon once again beat out its prestigious Bordeaux peers in what has come to be known as the wine rematch of the century.

Thirty years after a shock defeat, French wines lose again to Californians in the great taste test

Almost unthinkably, California routed the French even more convincingly than it did three decades ago, upturning the critics' damning predictions that Napa Valley's grapes would not age so well.

California wines beat the French -- again! Taste-off proves California wines age best, too

Even after 30 years of aging, state's Cabernets still tops

California trounces France 30 years on

Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, Matthew Jukes, Michel Bettane, Michael Broadbent, Spurrier himself and other eminent critics, pitted Leoville Las Cases 71, Mouton 70, Haut Brion and Montrose 70 against the Californians.

Judgment of Paris rerun - the panel scores

Jancis Robinson: "Note that the major discrepancy between the US and UK tasters was in our assessment of turbo-charged California wines such as Staglin and Shafer Hillside Select (whose past vintages I have enjoyed but I found the 2001 terribly oaky)."

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Mary Baker

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Well, well!  Pick your story . . .

The Results are In - Judgment of Paris

The 30th anniversary of the most famous winetasting in history, the "Judgment of Paris," was simultaneously and jubilantly recreated at COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts and Berry Bros. & Rudd, in association with Steven Spurrier-wine writer, author and creator of the original event.

It's official:  California wines beat the French

Exactly 30 years after the historic Paris wine tasting that changed the wine industry forever, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon once again beat out its prestigious Bordeaux peers in what has come to be known as the wine rematch of the century.

Thirty years after a shock defeat, French wines lose again to Californians in the great taste test

Almost unthinkably, California routed the French even more convincingly than it did three decades ago, upturning the critics' damning predictions that Napa Valley's grapes would not age so well.

California wines beat the French -- again! Taste-off proves California wines age best, too

Even after 30 years of aging, state's Cabernets still tops

California trounces France 30 years on

Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, Matthew Jukes, Michel Bettane, Michael Broadbent, Spurrier himself and other eminent critics, pitted Leoville Las Cases 71, Mouton 70, Haut Brion and Montrose 70 against the Californians.

Judgment of Paris rerun - the panel scores

Jancis Robinson: "Note that the major discrepancy between the US and UK tasters was in our assessment of turbo-charged California wines such as Staglin and Shafer Hillside Select (whose past vintages I have enjoyed but I found the 2001 terribly oaky)."

Cute headlines. In the spirit of pitting California wines against French ones, how about the following?

English literature vs. French literature... Which one trounces the other?

Battle of the painters, Raphael vs. Picasso... Who comes out on top?

Italian opera vs. Beijing opera... Which one would you bet on to win?

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<P>Steven, that was exactly my first thought. I have tasted almost no French wine (I'm only 25 and I live in California wine country) but my impression was how can a person, panel or<a href="http://www.vinography.com/archives/2006/05/wine_tasting_man_against_machi.html">

machine</a> make a blanket judgment on something so subjective?

<P>

I like to see arrogance from any person, country or winemaker get taken down a notch, but to say the Californians "won" anything in this competition seems incredibly arbitrary and ultimately irrelevant to anything but prices of wine I never would've been able to buy anyway.

"I can sit down, resolved to be moderate, determined to eat and drink lightly, and be there three hours later, nursing my wine and still open to temptation."

Peter Mayle, Toujours Provence

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A sports-match approach not only sells copy (at least in the US), but satisfies expectations visible in casual US discussion of "France vs. California" lately. I've seen fewer US efforts to put the 1976 event into real context. (Of course, many people now writing weren't following wine 30 years ago; yet people 30 years ago were following wine, of course, and they wrote.) Here for your possible interest is a micro-book-review, re-recommending the landmark University of California Book of California Wine (1984, ISBN 0520050851), which did some context-setting at the time. First, Bob Thompson (one of the editors and even in the 1970s, a dean of popular writers on California wine):

"It was not so much that somebody staged an international tasting, or that expert tasters placed some California [wines] on an equal footing with some of their French counterparts. That had been happening for several years. The Spurrier tasting became important because Time reported it. When Gault-Millau staged their much more informative Wine Olympiad a few years later, the news magazines had already spent their interest in the comparative tasting story. The Gault-Millau results went ignored by all but special interest wine publications and a few newspapers." [i think that's the 1979 tasting I cited upthread. -- MH]

Another author, John Bender, elsewhere in the same book put the event into the context of local tastings of wines from many places, which are a long-time tradition among wine lovers in California, as elsewhere. The 1976 tasting "shook the wine world and provoked the first commercial attention to California wines in Europe since the nineteenth century. ... The ratings in Paris came as no surprise to the many groups in California that regularly stage comparative blind tastings of varietal wines from different regions of the world."

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<P>Steven, that was exactly my first thought. I have tasted almost no French wine (I'm only 25 and I live in California wine country) but my impression was how can a person, panel or<a href="http://www.vinography.com/archives/2006/05/wine_tasting_man_against_machi.html">

machine</a> make a blanket judgment on something so subjective?

Good point -- but this is an argument against all numerical scoring systems in wine: any process which reduces the complex experience of wine tasting to a single number (for a wine) inevitably places a total order on all wines, maps them onto a single dimension, and thus makes these sort of comparisons valid.

And this goes whether it is out of 20 or the absurd 100 point scores.

But this is the same for all of these things -- 100 best restaurants in the world , or whatever else people come up with.

For me though it is a convincing refutation of the claim that Californian wines don't age; but I think they left it too long. The 70 clarets are mostly past it in my view, and have been for some time. My last experience was with a 70 mouton a month or so ago which, in the words of my host "was not all that it might have been".

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Good point -- but this is an argument against all numerical scoring systems in wine: any process which reduces the complex experience of wine tasting to a single number (for a wine) inevitably places a total order on all wines, maps them onto a single dimension, and thus makes these sort of comparisons valid.

And this goes whether it is out of 20 or the absurd 100 point scores.

Not necessarily. Numerical systems are a shorthand for seeing where a given wine falls on a reviewer's own global scale of evaluation. So long as you don't give them undue importance, you take the time to read the full description of the wine (as Mr. Parker himself has consistently urged), and you stick with the best reviewers, numerical scoring systems may have some place. The problem comes, perhaps inevitably for a consumer product, when wine criticism devolves into a horse race.

Edited by StevenC (log)
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Good point -- but this is an argument against all numerical scoring systems in wine: any process which reduces the complex experience of wine tasting to a single number (for a wine) inevitably places a total order on all wines, maps them onto a single dimension, and thus makes these sort of comparisons valid.

And this goes whether it is out of 20 or the absurd 100 point scores.

Not necessarily. Numerical systems are a shorthand for seeing where a given wine falls on a reviewer's own global scale of evaluation. So long as you don't give them undue importance, you take the time to read the full description of the wine (as Mr. Parker himself has consistently urged), and you stick with the best reviewers, numerical scoring systems have their place. The problem comes, perhaps inevitably for a consumer product, when wine criticism devolves into a horse race.

Assuming, obviously, that the reviewer knows his stuff, then what is the place for a 100 point scale?

From my own point of view, the problem I always have had is that many wines are "incomparable".

It does not make sense to compare Yquem with Sassicaia. A naive use of the scores would imply that you can just compare the scores and the higher scoring wine is better. This is absurd, and Parker would say, and does say, that the scores are only for comparing similar wines. But then the question is, what are the categories for similarity? Are Californian cabernet sauvignons in the same category as claret? Is a 95 point Savennieres comparable to a 94 point Montrachet? Are port and madeira in the same category? Presumably it changes from reviewer to reviwer.

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