Once upon a time in a kingdom far away, only Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and The Wine Spectator dueled over which one could score the most wines 90 points or more. Then along came Stephen Tanzer, The Wine Enthusiast and others to jump on the 100 point scoring system with a steady barrage of 90 point scores in their publications.
Then, things really began to get out of hand. Parker’s onetime protege, Galloni or Baloney or whatever, split off and now pumps out 90+ ratings on hundreds of wines.
Today, I can’t think of a qualified expert who does not rate wines by the 100 point system and now with the bloggers, everyone is an expert.
And as more and more sommeliers land a day job as consultants or advisors to online publications, well, the points just keep on coming at you.
You need to understand that this scoring system for wine as it has evolved is all about mutual promotion. By that I mean every producer whose wine is rated 90 or above is likely to promote that wine and also mention that writer or publication or blogger.
That’s how Parker became so well-known early on and forced The Wine Spectator to start using the 100 point rating system to keep up.
For producers, the 90+point ratings only encourages them to increase prices at every opportunity. That is good for the producers; not so good for the consumer.
Even www.wineaccess which is no stranger to hype and self-promotion had this to say recently:
“But perhaps more than anything, what most has us reaching for the TUMS are the soaring prices of Napa Valley’s (admittedly herculean) 2013 Cabernet Sauvignons.
Wine Spectator primed the Napa Valley pump, calling 2013 “an ideal season.” Then Parker came on like gangbusters, posting a record 19 perfect 100-point ratings, before calling 2013 “the greatest vintage in 37 years.” Finally it was Galloni’s turn. Parker’s former protege has always been stingier than his counterparts, causing many to suggest that if you want to compare a Parker score to Galloni’s, it’s best to just “subtract two.” Galloni poured fuel on The Wine Advocate’s Napa Valley fire, publishing a record 46 reviews of 97 points or more.”
And this week, wine.com emailed everyone announcing that “New Big Scores have been Added.” The wine and/or price is now second in importance to the scores?
The whole system is indeed flaming out of control, rendering most point scores in the 90s, well, rather pointless, when it comes down to being useful information for wine consumers.
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