100-point wine?

Posted by Ilya Dorfman on

You might have heard that Robert Parker recently gave a perfect score of a 100 to a dozen of Napa Valley wines. 

I've been involved in the wine industry since the age of 16, now in my late thirties. I've seen trends, been involved in tastings and can't fathom how a wine gets a score of 100. No matter what the product is. From an exotic car to the Mona Lisa.

What is perfection?

Wine is a consumer product, a liquid, a food item to be enjoyed, not looked at and say "Ahh, this wine is worth thousands of dollars". I don't agree with wine being worth thousands of dollars. Although good for the winery in terms of income. But can you taste the difference between a $100 wine and $1000 wine? No, its only because it's rare. But you can taste the difference between $15 and $100? Yes you can and that is more enjoyable.

As for a wine being scored 100/100. It's the "now" factor. For that moment all the tastes align, for whatever reason. Like the planets, but we know acid in wine goes down after time and tannins soften, and if the alcohol is too high can overtake the grape flavors. So what is perfection in wine is really hard to define.

Does Parker have the palate to be the advocate for the average and seasoned wine drinker drinker? No, he does not. It's his palate that he is looking for. What he should be looking at is how it drinks. That's a big difference between how it drinks and his palate. Parker has loaded his palate to be the one to be considered. And that is the danger for all wineries and consumers. And it has been said before, that wineries are making wines to suit the palate of Parker. So the subtleties are thrown out the cellar door, knocking down the average drinker and propping up Parker. A wine, like the average description on the label "well rounded" and should not be pointed in one direction. To the palate of Parker.

Before you ask - no, I am not anti Parker. I read his notes and taste the wines he recommends also, but to a point. It's the scoring that is the issue. One mans meat is another mans poison. And a wine that will be ready to drink in 25 years! Well we don't know what is going to happen to us tomorrow, and to wait 25 years for the wine to find its right balance. By then I will personally be out of balance. I want to drink a good bottle of wine for between $15 (for dinner every night say) and on a special occasion that $100 bottle of wine. Otherwise the cost of the wine overtakes the cost of feeding the family every night.

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