Awards and Citations
There are many wine writers and wine competitions throughout the world, all attempting to rate wines by scores out of 10, 20 or 100, or by awarding medals or stars. We have included some of their ratings (where known) as guidelines only. So, if you enjoy a wine given a high mark by Robert Parker, for example, his assessments of other wines may lead you to other previously untried delights. We should stress, however, that scores and awards reveal nothing about the wine's style and character - at most they are mere indications of its general quality. The descriptions which accompany the scores are far more helpful and, in the end, the best palate for deciding which wines you enjoy most is your own!
So what do we think of them? Gold medals and high scores can be used cynically to sell wines. However, it is not enough to see that such an award has been made without knowing on what basis it was given. We prefer to consider the opinions of individuals such as Parker rather than panels, particularly when the panel changes with every tasting (as in most of the magazines). As indicated above, however, we do not give too much weight to anyone else's scores, preferring to trust our own judgment.
Important: a wine which does not have a critic's rating is not necessarily inferior. It may mean either that the critics have not tasted it or that we have not seen the review. We only purchase wines which we consider to offer excellent value for their quality, regardless of reviews so you can be assured that any wines purchased from us will be well received.
Le Guide Hachette des Vins
In addition, the very best one or two wines from an appellation may be awarded the 'Coup de Coeur', the very highest recommendation.
Bettane & Desseauve
Robert Parker - The Wine Advocate
It is fairly obvious then that a wine scoring 75 points is a very average one, which to Parker means a soundly made but straightforward wine with little distinction whereas 85 points means the wine is very good with character, flavour and finesse. A 90-point wine shows exceptional character and complexity, whilst 96 to 100 points are rarely awarded.
Parker is particularly strong on wines from the Rhône Valley and Bordeaux and, on the whole, any wine from these regions scoring 90 points or more will be fabulous. In recent years he has recruited Pierre-Antione Rovani and Daniel Thomases as specialists in Burgundy and Italy respectively.
Parker's system is the subject of much debate; however, he points out that "scores do not reveal the important facts about wine. The written commentary that accompanies the ratings is a better source of information regarding the wine's style and personality, its relative quality level vis-à-vis its peers, and its value and ageing potential than any score could ever indicate". He concludes "there can never be any substitute for your own palate nor any better education than tasting the wine yourself".
Note: Robert M. Parker and eRobertParker.com own the copyright for all reviews credited to "Parker"
Jancis Robinson MW is the one of the UK's foremost critics, reckoned to have a superb palate. Recent years have seen emerge a clear difference between the American palate (as defined by Robert Parker) and the European palate of which Jancis is one of the finest examples. That is not to say the two palates do not coincide often. A truly fine wine, representative of its origins etc generally finds itself praise on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as writing in the Financial Times every Saturday, Jancis has her own web-site (see http://www.jancisrobinson.com/) with subsciption-based "Purple Pages" containing the really important stuff. For number crunchers, Jancis awards wines points out of 20.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar is, perhaps, the new Wine Advocate. Established in 1985, it is a subscription-based bi-monthly publication available both on-line and in paper formats (or both - each package is priced accordingly). As with Parker, scores are out of 100 with wines scoring over 90 points coming highly recommended (and 85+ recommended). Wines are recommended as follows:
Mâcon and Paris are two of France's most prestigious wine competitions, both awarding medals (gold, silver, bronze). More localised than the IWC, they are generally more reliable insofar as any wine with a medal will have good qualities. Other regional competitions that can be relied on include Brussels and Vienna. However, wines which do not have medals from such competitions are not necessarily poor (the big names often do not enter such competitions, for example).
You must be aged 18 or over to purchase wine.