90 Points Award
Back in about 1977 an American lawyer turned wine critic named Robert Parker introduced the 100 point scale for wine via his bi-monthly report, The Wine Advocate; This system has become the “world standard” and as expected, it does have critics. Some people say “ratings don’t matter” that it “discourages diversity” of styles, that “certain critics only like certain wines” maybe some of this is true but for the most part, many critics are the people not “producing or selling” these highly regarded wines.
Parker is unquestionably and by far the “most influential man in the world of wine today”.
Many producers across the world, (especially the big Bordeaux producers) withhold release and pricing of their wines until they know the Parker ratings and then set prices accordingly, normally at the highest level the market will stand.
So, what does it all mean to the consumer?
There are around 300,000 wine producers throughout the world today making about 1 million different wines, (Production exceeds 40 billion bottles). The International Gold Medal Winners and wines rated by the most respected wine reviewers led by Robert Parker and his Wine Advocate, the Wine Spectator, James Suckling, Steve Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, the Wine Enthusiast, plus several excellent publications like Decanter Magazine, followed by excellent Country Guides (Gambero Rosso of Italy) or Country Specialists like (James Halliday of Australia) will collectively rate between them about 100,000 wines (approximately 10% of production) of those maybe 30,000 wines will come in 85 points (Gold Medal Standard) or above, 8-10,000 might come in @ 90 points and above and finally possibly 500 different wines will come in with 96 points or above.
To simplify it all.....wines rated below 80 points do not generally get independently recommended.
80-84 Points = A good wine for every day drinking, often very good value and Silver Medal Standard.
85-89 Points = Wines decidedly a cut above average, 85 points is the Gold Medal standard minimum, wines in this category can often be really interesting, and well recommended.
90-93 Points = Outstanding and excellent wines, with exceptional complexity and character, highly recommended. On average less than 1% of world production will garner 90 points or more from the serious critics regardless of cost.
94-97 Points = Superb wines, with masses of flavour, beautifully balanced yet with power, complexity and often immense longevity. These are often traded by investors across the world.
98-100 Points = Extraordinary wines, the pinnacle of quality, profound wines displaying complex character and all the attributes of a classic wine of its variety. These are the wines which are always traded by investors, enthusiasts and hoarders, these wines always require special effort to find.
These ratings are as one would expect hard to come by, for example in 1990 wine production was about a quarter of what it is today and just under 2,000 wines were given 90 points by the main reviewers, this figure rose to almost 4,000 by the Millennium and is expected to be around 8,000 wines from the 2010 vintage when all the reviews are out, sometime in the next couple of years.
What is perhaps most interesting is that quite a few wines achieve this 90 points for very little money (wines costing as little as £10 a bottle), these are genuine stars of the wine world, made by some of the most talented and fiercely competitive producers of the world. Please be aware, the number is not all that counts, many great and truly interesting wines are out there rated 85-89 points, these are very well made and highly enjoyable, but it is the ninety pointers that are good way to begin to understand quality wine, especially if you’re a novice. Another point to consider, everyone has an opinion, some say “points are pointless” every Sommelier in the world will tell you they don’t care about ratings, but when a wine achieves 100 points, they all come begging for it. J
"Premier Vintners – Where quality comes first!"
The above statement was made about us in 2003 a short while after I set up this business, I always personally rate the wines and try to guess where they will come with the independents, normally its about 1 point or thereabouts. Since setting up the company 97% of all the wines I have purchased have been independently awarded 85 or better with a running average of 65% being awarded 90 points and more. The goal of the company is and has always been to find the wines which will get the 95 point and above ratings, the stars of the future and the investment wines which many of our long standing clients will testify. That earlier statement has been adopted as our company motto.