(The following represents nothing more than my opinion – feel free to agree or disagree. I apologize upfront for generalizing, but if I really wanted to break this down, it would take pages and pages to better support my argument)
The majority of today’s wine reviews, are, for me, quite useless. I really don’t care if someone says they smell singed Alder (wood), because I know they don’t, they can’t – singed wood smells like singed wood, regardless of the type of wood. For the majority of humans, anyway (all?), and today’s reviewers/pros are no different.
Today’s average wine lover/consumer can’t tell the difference between the smell of one (e.g. type of) orange or another – either can the critic, but it makes for colorful writing. The list of adjectives is long, my friends, and it’s pretty much bs in my book. Looks good on a shelf-tag though, I suppose; it’s designed to instill trust, meant to seem authoritative, real. Numbers picked from thin air are, by definition, not real. Balloon, meet pin.
Besides crazy, useless adjectives, there’s points/scores. For the record, I don’t believe a static score (e.g. 97 points!) – can represent a living, changing, thing like wine. But, it’s what the marketplace seems to want, and for many, I suppose, it’s (become) a useful tool.
There’s also the fact that (quite often) scores for the same wine differ between the “pros”. Heck, the same person can – and often does – also score the (same) wine differently, pretty much reinforcing what I’ve just said.
Look, (fine) wines these days (i.e. competitive landscape, modern technology and modern hygiene practices, etc.), pretty much fall into four categories (though if we include a lot/most of supermarket/bargain types; I guess there’s a fifth category – one which is below/inferior to the following four, and outside of the scope of my reviews):
(1) It’s (ok, but) unremarkable. The wine offers little, if anything, in the way of a memorable experience; it shows little if any sense of place, or grape, and it’s clearly not something worth repurchasing, or recommending. But, it was worth trying, and it did go OK with the meal. In today’s world of scoring – a world that essentially begins at 87 points (so it’s a 13-point world, not a 100-point world), and goes to 89, depending on the critic(s). (87-89)
(2) It’s pretty good; “Wow, this was a nice surprise!” These types of wines typically show enough – or often slightly more – complexity, personality, etc., than the price paid, and therefore, to varying degrees, are worth remembering, and/or repurchasing. Wines falling into this category seem to score between (90-92).
(3) It’s brilliant! A truly memorable, and worthwhile experience – time to find more! You probably already know what I’m talking about; these are often found at many different price points – not just expensive bottles. These wines generally score (93-96) points
(4) Game changing; an epic bottle, and depending WHEN it’s opened/consumed, falls into the category of scores ranging between (97-100).
** Another reason I feel brackets work better than a static score is that a wine might, and often does, show better or worse across one or more nights; differently across several months, or years. too.
Of course, it also depends on WHO is doing the scoring – people/reviewers that like the exuberance of youth are likely to score those wines higher, whereas people/reviewers that generally enjoy tertiary attributes may score those wines lower, and vice versa. And then there’s the reviewers that always score higher than others – to build their “brand”, I suppose. Sigh.
At the end of the day though, to be sure, people/pros are just picking numbers out of thin air, there’s nothing scientific about it. And, no one seems to be held accountable for their imaginary numbers, I mean (professional) scores. Scores are just one person’s opinion, and most are paid for, in one or more ways. I’ll keep mine free (and helpful, I hope!), for as long as possible; feel free to make a voluntary donation if you find this site helpful!