On their Twitter profile,
“only wines rated 90 points plus or we won’t sell it“
And on their site,
“we only sell wine rated 90 points or higher by recognized industry experts. Our customers buy with confidence, knowing they will receive only high quality, delicious wine“.
The points, of course, refer to the 100 point rating scale.
|95-100||A rare, extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine. Best of the best.|
|90-94||Outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. Wines of this calibre are worth the effort to seek out, purchase and enjoy.|
|85-89||A very good to excellent wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavour as well as character with no noticeable flaws.|
|80-84||A good, solid, and well made wine.|
|75-79||A mediocre yet drinkable wine that may have minor flaws.|
|50-74||Not recommended. A wine deemed to be unacceptable|
What’s wrong with a pure points proposition?
Well, there’s clear merit to helping consumers choose better wines.
The problem isn’t actually the rater’s scores, but how their scores are used downstream to market and sell the wine.
Scores, alone, distil a year’s worth of vines growing, grapes ripening, grape-pickers picking, winemakers wine making and winedrinkers drinking pleasure down to just one measly number. Is that right?
On the face of it, it looks okay, right? It helps their customers buy better wine. In their own words, they want to
“demystify the wine buying process so you can purchase knowing you are getting a superb, high quality wine“
My main issue is that by focusing solely on points it that it has a dumbing down effect for all concerned. People selling the wine across the counter don’t have to answer the question, “what’s it like”? Or at least, their answer is now “It got 92 points”.
The film I saw last night? 91 points. That sandwich, I’d give it 84, docking it for excessive coleslaw. My wife? 100 points. Obviously.
Consumers can become used to buying on points alone, and looking no further. To me, that’s a bit sad.
Where are points useful?
Where abundance of choice is overwhelmingly paralysing. So much so that when we can’t make a choice, then points are great. You’ll often see a critic’s tasting notes and score on the shelf of a shop. It gives a point of differentiation to the wines beside, above and below it on the shelf.
Perhaps it’s just the pinko-lefty-green-leaning-liberal-farmers-market perspective, but I much prefer the following from Louis Albrouze, a small wine boutique on Dublin’s Leeson Street,
“A hand picked array of authentic wines made by small growers with true passion and dedication“.
Is this just the difference between a pair of Wrangler and Levi jeans? Have you ever bought a wine purely on points (and was it any good?).