Yesterday, I gave a couple of bottles of pink wine 95 points…
Even the winemakers laughed. Lots of you did, too. “Are you OUT OF YOUR F@#&ING MIND?” a reader named josht2392 wrote in an email, “NO rosé is worth 95 points. Find me ONE 95 point rating from Tazner or Parker or Spectator or anybody else! Maybe you should taste some really great reds, so you’d know what 95 points tastes like.”
I do, Josh. I taste a blue million great reds, every year, and I assign 95+ points to some of them, too.
I may well be, in fact, the only American wine guy to give a bottle of still pink wine a 95 point rating, so I can see why Josh would get his panties in a twist, but my 95 points doesn’t mean what Parker’s or Tanzer’s or Spectator’s or, really, anybody’s does.
I’ve had a problem with how the 100 Point Scale is used, ever since I started selling wine, back there in 1994. I actually had the same questions back when I was a chef, at least 35 years ago, but I didn’t have the numbers shoved in my face, daily, the way I would later on.
Parker goes to some length to explain his system and, at various points, says that wines are judged against “their peer group” or “of their type“. The problem is that “their type“, with Parker and everybody else, is a pretty loose concept. Parker has occasionally admitted that he holds Bordeaux, which he regards as the world’s greatest wine region, to a higher standard. That partially explains why, in any given vintage, the scores awarded to Bordeaux wines tend to run lower, on average, than those for comparable varietals and blends from California and Argentina and Italy, etc. But, in his system, no consideration is given to the varietal or the variations of style. I don’t know how in the world anybody would compare a wine like an Amarone – with the borderline-bizarre method used to make it – and a bottle of Bordeaux, easily the most formulaic wines in the world. But he makes no distinction between the two types, nor does he separate out a Rhone Grenache from Chateauneuf du Pape and a Rhone Syrah from Hermitage.
My system won’t require a full-page explanation, as theWine Advocate’s does. Mine is very simple: If I’m tasting pink wines, there are three possible divisions: sparkling, still, and sweet. And each type gets judged against the entire universe of its own type, at any price point, from anywhere in the world. I gave a couple of inexpensive Rose wines 95 points, Josh, because, compared to all wines of their exact same type, I have the same range of possible scores that I do for Amarone, Brunello, Napa Cabernet, White Burgundy, and any other type of wine. While I have been and still am a BIG fan of Robert Parker and his associates, I cannot go along with the notion, that he has sometimes grudgingly copped to, that certain wines cannot earn a 100 point score. He determined, early on, that some wines were just simply inferior to other wines. And that’s his right to think that way and to score accordingly. But The Pour Fool is FAR – as light years – more concerned with the Average Joe wine/beer/booze fan than with the inbred culture of the haute wine geek, or beer aficionado or Whiskey “expert”. I don’t give two shits what the “wine intelligentsia” thinks of any wine. I want real Americans (and French people and Limeys and Kiwis and Italians and residents of Hong Kong, since this blog is, shockingly, read in over 100 countries) to be able to look at my scores and say, “Wow! He really thinks this wine is great!”
It’s not my job to try to tell you that drinking Bordeaux or Tuscany or Mendoza or even Walla Walla is “more serious”, in wine-cred terms, than drinking a bottle of Pinot Auxerrois from the Canadian Okanagan. And, I don’t want my scores to be equivocal. If you read those 95 scores for Renegade and Seven Hills Rosé, that means that I believe that those wines are worth a classic rating amongst all dry, still pink wines, at any price, from anywhere. It has zero meaning as compared to all other types of wine because there is no legitimate comparison to be made between a bottle of Chateau Margaux and a bottle of Chris Ringland Shiraz or Quintarelli Amarone or Jules Taylor Sauv Blanc or Pingus or Seven Hills Rosé. None. And I firmly believe two things: 1) anybody who presumptively down-scores a wine by type is doing your tastes a disservice, and 2) any scale that doesn’t acknowledge a distinction between vastly different types of winemaking technique or grape varietal is creating a false construct.
When you read a list of wines like the one I included above, what do all those have in common? They’re liquids. They’re made from grapes. They contain alcohol.
That is IT.
If you read a 95 point score from me, that 95 means that I think that wine is a classic of its own genre, not some broader, arbitrary grouping. I don’t score Cabernet against Malbec or Sauv Blanc against Albariño and Chenin Blanc or Recioto di Valpolicella against Valpolicella normale or Ripasso or Amarone. I don’t score Beaujolais Nouveau against other Beaujolias appellation wines because it’s made by an entirely different process and tastes almost nothing like Julienas and Morgon and Brouilly. And I really don’t give credence to the idea that there cannot be a perfect wine in any genre, white or red, sweet or dry, still or sparkling. That notion is a direct concession to raised-pinky wine weenies who cast such judgments upon wines and grapes and dismiss any they feel are inferior. The Rose ratings are a perfect example: MOST “serious” wine experts feel that pink wines are presumptively “less” than whites and really far less than reds. Why? How did this perception come about? Answer: generation upon generation of that classic, haughty Wine Snob that we’ve all seen in cartoons and met in wine shops and occasionally run into at tastings, all trading their inbred opinions back and forth until they seeped out of the vacuum-sealed confines of Wine Geek World and penetrated the Collective Consciousness. We think certain wines are worthy of more respect than others because we were indoctrinated, at some point in our wine journey, with this “Truth”. Francophilia, disdain for rosé, the idea that all Australian wines are “fruit bombs” – all of this is received wisdom, unquestioned and perpetuated by wave upon wave of new wine lovers who simply never stop to to ask themselves if their “wine savvy” pal who teaches them about grapes and regions and styles may, in fact, be just a teensy, tiny bit full of merde.
So, Josh, I hope this answers your “question”, although you really didn’t ask one, (actually, you did: “Are you OUT OF YOUR F@#&ING MIND?” Answer: Could be.) but let me just offer this as a more direct response to what you did write:
Wine Enthusiast: Schramsberg 2007 J. Schram Brut Rosé – 96 Points and Editors’ Choice
You asked for ONE 95 but they didn’t have one, so I hope this will work in its stead. Thanks for reading and I really don’t blame you for questioning that 95. After all, I hadn’t explained how I think.
Now, I have.