The 100 point rating system is dead. Vive the 100 point system !

(This post is a summary of an exclusive report from VitaBella Luxury Wine)

Early April, the "En Primeur" Week will begin in Bordeaux and very soon wine critics will release their comments on the top Bordeaux 2011. For many reasons it became very fashionable to criticize the 100 point score system and I would not detail here in this post as you could easily find articles that mention some of them (Read here an article). In fact I feel things have already changed and if the old 100 point score system is definitely dead, a new 100 point rating system has emerged that shows the change in the way critics are celebrating the best wines now.

The old 100 point rating system: Do you remember? I was recently reading an interesting post from Bruce Palling (read here: Over the Barrel ?) in which Stephen Browett, the Chairman of Farr Vintners, said: “I would say that the fashion is certainly away from over oaked and high alcohol wine as well." In fact, some of the wines that scored over 90 points in the old score system was a caricature of this style. "But how is it possible some undrinkable wines got high scores?" some would ask today. Why? Because their powerful style was appreciated in opposition to the diluted wines - with no fruit and no structure - that were on the market at this period of time. Two opposite styles, in fact, and one was much celebrated 20 years ago: the powerful style. This old score system helped much the wine industry to understand that diluted wines were not welcome anymore on the market.

The old 100 point rating system proved its limits :
1) After years of tasting powerful white wines with strong alcohol or overextracted and oakey red wines, critics were finally fed up with this style. What they now want is a delicate and elegant wine that could be paired with food. They want a wine that makes them ask for another glass and not a wine that makes them sleep.
2) After years of having said that this particular 98 point score wine would age for 20 years at least and should be tasted in 10 years' time, now has come the time to drink the wine. And sometimes we get disappointed by this wine. Why? When young, it was said that this 98 point wine had so much power that wine lovers would miss the most interesting part if they did not wait for at least few years. After years, this wine would reveal a smooth and complex mouthfeel with some tertiary aromas that only a unique wine could offer. Now is the time to open the bottle and sometimes...disapointment. The wine has oxidized or has not developped in the sense it should have. I am always amazed by the number of those high scoring wines from the 1990s that are still on top restaurants' wine lists: no wine lover wants them anymore because the expected excellence never showed up...

Vive the new 100 point system ! A score is a photograph of the critic’s reaction at a particular moment in time. Changing the score system may not be the best way to say "the old style" is dead. In fact, I feel that a new 100 point score has already emerged over the last few years. When you have the chance to taste the best wines that both "new world" and "old world" can offer, you understand that there was a major shift in the way wine critics are scoring fine wines. Strong alcohol, overextracted and oakey red wines are not anymore making the top scores as they used to make in the past. Overripe grapes that make unbalanced white wines are not welcome anymore in the top 100 wines. Elegance, finesse, balance are now celebrated. In fact, this new 100 point score system is revealing treasures from the New World that were hidden in the past. Great balanced wines from both Old and New World are now reaching top scores. Even a red wine with a light colour has its chance now: Have a look at Rousseau wines in Burgundy. Even a delicate red wine from US has its chance: Have a look at Pinot noir wines from Littorai. The rating system has not changed, quality scale is still based on 100 points or 100/100. In fact I do not think the scoring system with the 100 points mechanism should change. But mentalities have changed and the evolution of the 100 point rating system is clearly showing this trend over the last few years. The old 100 point rating system is dead. Vive the 100 point system ! (Read more on www.vitabella.fr)