Wine Shows: Are the 100 point score totals useful or just confusing?
Case closed, winners are grinners, cue more beer and sandwiches.
In this fashion, wineries get a second win for free. Suddenly wines that would have received a silver get 94 points (the minimum score for a gold at the 2014 Melbourne Wine Awards was 95 points), a score which in most critics and consumer eyes marks it as a top tier world beating wine – even though it it didn’t even take home the shiniest silverware in the show.
What that also means is that wine show medals mean nothing. It’s all about that (inflated) score, amidst a cheapening of the whole process. Further, you’ll now see wines that win big at a wine show – say, the Jimmy Watson winning 2013 S.C. Pannell Adelaide Hills Syrah – with not only a trophy but a stupendous score, almost intimating that not only did a small group of wine judges really like it, but some other critic independently gave it big points too (98/100 in the S.C. Pannell’s case).
The caveat here is that I am probably a little tighter in my scoring than many other critics, and I’d only ever give even 94+ to a wine I really really like. But still, I don’t think I’m alone in staring mouth agape at some of the results of this scoring…
Importantly, I’d like to reiterate that I think the opening up of wine show scoring via the usage of the 100 point system has merit. Indeed I was on the Sydney Wine Show Consultative Committee this year where the topic was a focal point of discussion and viewed positively.
Further, I’ve judged at a few shows myself and totally appreciate the process and its intentions – in other words, this is not an attack on wine shows. Indeed the trophy winners from the aforementioned 2014 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards as a group are one very handy set of wines, perhaps the best group of trophy winners I’ve seen in some time. Better still, the Jimmy Watson winner harks back to what ‘the Jimmy’ was intended to be – a delicious one year old wine – which is a massive win.
Further still, I know why shows are moving to scores – they want to retain relevancy in an environment where wine show results often seem to be more of a lottery than an actual quality indication. It’s a solid move from wine show promoters.
Still, just seeing those catalogues full of what I know are ‘nice, entry level wines’ with huge points really grinds my gears.
The answer? Personally, I’d like to see a move back to cumulative scores for wine show results, which takes out the sting immediately. That’s probably not going to happen, however, so in the meantime, how about we just slightly revise the scores down a bit? Start the gold medals at 94, top golds at 96-97? It is only a small change but would also help bring scores back to reality (maybe).
Then again, who am I kidding? We all know that scoring is somewhat arbitrary, blind tasting or not, and we could debate the merits or otherwise ad infinitum.
Pass me a beer. And a sandwich…
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