Saturday, March 29, 2008

Is 100 Points an Albatross for a Wine?

The thought occurred to me when I was drinking the monumental '05 Deus Ex Machina, which was graced with 100 points by Parker. It is a stupendous wine with densely packed layers that spread out beautifully across the palate. Truly a three dimensional wine with depth, breadth and length. In the back of my mind though, I was looking for things that could detract from this beauty of a wine. Honestly, I've done the same things with wines like the '02 Shafer HSS and '00 Chapoutier Ermitage Cuvee de l'Oree, neither of which I thought merited perfection. It's not just me, you see it all the time with people's tasting notes when they say, yeah, it was good but it wasn't 100 points. Rather than mentally score a wine up from 0 (and I use score liberally since I don't award points), you work your way down.

My point (and I do have one) is that it seems a burden on the wine to hold a perfect score. That is to say, some of the pleasure is taken away because the wine is being held up as an avatar of earthly perfection. Anything less is going to be a let down, notwithstanding that the wine may not be at its peak, etc. While we may know scores (or notes for that matter) are just snapshots and predictions, it is human nature to grab onto the tangible. Certainly, it is a hot topic of conversation at the table no matter how sophisticated and point-phobic the tasters are.

At the end of the day, it is what in the glass that counts. We should approach a wine without prejudice, but is it possible to approach a wine without expectations?

1 comment:

Mike P said...

Ben, I agree. There should always be some 'upside' room. Especially sine we all know how subjective tasting wine is.

Tanzer has it right. I think you can count on one hand his 100s (maybe 2?). His phiosphy on such is dead on as well.

I do give point scores. I do so for my own reasons, to compare things that I have liked, more than disliked.

It's very hard to approach wines without a preconcieved notion, if not prejudice. I choose the former for wines variteies I like and the latter for things where I am jaded already.