When we talk about scores in Quebec, that’s usually what we talk about: Hockey. Wine lovers also have a tendency to talk about scores. Scores are far from perfect. I’m not particularly keen on wine scores since they tend to be reducing the complex appreciation of wine to something very pragmatic, losing all feeling or emotions about a beverage meant to be enjoyed. On the flip side, I do agree with Jacques Benoit’s view that it gives an instant appreciation… as long as the reader knows the scale of the critic. I don’t mean if 17 is 17/20 vs. 17/100, but rather, what does a 17/20 for Mrs. Robinson equate to when reading Tim Atkin’s reviews that are on a 100-point scale?
Many wine writers have addressed this issue in the past and some, quite eloquently. Some even wrote books about the subject which has fueled discussions for a long time. I included some references below.
What else gets to me? I’m not particularly keen on lengthy detailed descriptions either. It drives me nuts to read about some of the descriptions, because I simply cannot relate to them. It’s a valid exercise but up to a point. Taken out of context, it reads like an inventory or a shopping list. When it comes to food and wine pairings, that’s something I won’t write about either although we could talk about it at length. It’s a challenge I particularly enjoy and that I’m not so bad at (ask Marie-Claude). It makes sense if the dish is the focal point of the discussion about wine pairing, not the other way around. I find it boring in writing, and too limiting and futile if initiated from the wine as there are too many factors involved (cooking method, preparation, condiments, accompanying ingredients, etc.) to make a potentially interesting pairing into a real miss.
Now that I represent wineries, I’m facing a challenge. How do I convince you, the buyer, that I picked great wines? I’m quite flattered by the trust my friends put into my wine selections, but there must be more than trust involved. Unfortunately, the third-party validation comes from the score. So, in all fairness to those who are wine critics and do this for a living because they are experienced and mostly, credible enough to be read time and time again, I will give them exposure and will share what they think, word for word… or score for score. I won’t translate their opinion either. Keep in mind, not all scores are created equal. Yet, if everybody seems to agree it a great wine, it is.
Here are a couple of reviews that recently stood out for Bodegas Bhilar.
Wine Spectator reviews of white Spanish wines, March 2017
BODEGAS BHILAR (Rioja White) Terca 2010 Score: 93
This distinctive white is rich and muscular, with light tannins and orange peel acidity supporting dried pear, blanched almond, tarragon and tea flavors. A powerful version of the traditional style. Drink now through 2022. 90 cases made. (Thomas Matthews)
Note: There are 24 bottles of Terca arriving in Quebec by July. You might want to reserve a few….
DSG VINEYARDS (Rioja White) Phincas Thousand Mils 2011 Score: 93
This forceful white shows grip and depth. Honeysuckle, orange peel and vanilla notes frame pear, tarragon and marzipan flavors, with floral and spice details on the finish. Firm acidity and light tannins lend this a muscular structure. Distinctive. Viura, Garnacha Blanca and Malvasia. Drink now through 2021. 90 cases made. (Thomas Matthews)
Note: There were only 24 bottles left of Thousand Mils, so I had Melanie promise she would keep a couple of bottles for my next visit at the winery. Once the next vintage is ready, I promise I will order some. For me anyway…
Some links for your enjoyment:
La notation, lancinante question (Jacques Benoit; 2015-10-27)
Scoring wines: does it measure up? (Jamie Goode)
A Pragmatic Approach to Using Wine Ratings (Wine Folly; 2014-08-18)
When It Comes To Wine, What’s The Point Of Points? (Chicagoist; 2014-06-06)