So which do you prefer? The hard, bold clinical lines of numbers, or the depth, nuance and colour of the painted text?
Ok, it’s all slightly unfair, but I think well illustrated.
I hate points. I simply do not understand why a subject so deliciously complex as wine has to be reduced to a lowest common denominator.
And scores are really just that, they over simplify, and codify, an agricultural product whose inherent beauty lies in its very diversity. How can you use a common scoring system, realistically, to assess the relative merits of a bottle 2000 Latour, a 2000 Morgon Côte du Py, or for that matter a bottle of 1853 Yquem? It makes little sense to me, and quite frankly panders to the egos of certain wine critics and almost certainly a vast morass of wine” collectors”.
How satisfying to know that your cellar is full of Parker 95 pointers, and what a risk to take on that little Loire/ Burgundy border oddity not worthy of critical examination, or worthy of “just” 89?
“Hey, I’m 95 points on that; hey! I’m 99 points on that!” Well, aren’t you the smart one Mr Suckling with all your rich friends, the one ever more cosmopolitan than the next, never having to wade through middle end wines like the rest of us.
And how boring and un-épicurean never having to taste a wine from a lesser vintage from a great estate offering the frustration and delight of offering just a slightly skeletal model of greatness. Surely the joy of real connoisseurship is knowing the value of wines from the bottom up.
Many critics complain, particularly the most commercially influential, that their readers only read their scores and not their notes. Well, isn’t the answer staring them in the face? Don’t publish scores, just you notes and make your reader connect intellectually with the wines they so yearn to pontificate on.
And then of course, there is “terroir”. How people love to bark on about terroir that nebulous word that shows to one and all how much they know! But I am minded of Michael Broadbent in “Mondovino”, who states he would much rather taste a moderately scored wine that tasted of somewhere, rather than a highly scored wine from anywhere. Or more precisely nowhere.
That my friends is terroir.
Of course writing wine notes is a difficult art. David Schildernicht’s are so endlessly, er, endless, many at The Wine Spectator just plain vacuous, and even in full full flow, Cap’n Bob’s gush from an overflowing, overpowering and overwhelming imagination, that that they can grate on a reader’s patience.
There is a clinical and succinct way to taste, with recognized terms there to aid. Beyond that, it is up to the reader to accrue knowledge then filter those words.and venture out on their own.
Of course a critic worthy of the name should express their joy, or despair when they find it, but do they have to sterilize it with a number?
All comments gratefully received.