Saturday, January 11, 2020

Absolute And Relative Quality

The ratings scales wine reviewers use reflect their view on absolute quality. It is subjective, of course, but it is meant to give an absolute measurement. A second rating has been included by some wine writers. It has been referred to as a hedonistic scale or just recently as an emotional rating. I have used a second scale for a number of years to indicate my personal enjoyment of the wine.

But what I want to address here is something a little different. A number of wineries, including some at Margaret River, have introduced 'special' wines produced at very low volumes, and sold at extremely high prices. These wines tend to be of high quality, although not necessarily to everybody's taste (think overripe Barossa Shiraz). They include the best grapes and are meticulously made. No argument there.

However, do these wines represent the general quality of the producer? I think not. The leading Bordeaux Châteaus normally produce their first wine at the highest volume. The second and sometimes third wine is a 'declassified' wine. Coming back to Margaret River (which is where my thoughts about this originated) Cullen's Diana Madeline and the Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon are relatively high volume for these wineries and are legitimate representatives of their quality. But does the Tom Cullity really reflect Vasse Felix or the MJW Voyager Estate or the Vanya the Cullen winery?

It would be great if we could construct a quality index which gives a rating to each wine, weighted by its volume and thus determine an average rating for a winery. This would be a lot better than the five star rating by James Halliday. Unfortunately, the data is almost impossible to gather for a meaningful number of wineries.

What do you think?     

1 comment:

kr1 said...

I find that the second criterion you have listed about personal enjoyment plays a big part for me in rating a wine.
How do you see the rating index panning out?
What would be your criterion for it?

Something I would add is a seasonal suitability scale. Wines have a seasonal index for me. E.g. Bold Barossa Shiraz is distinctly suited to a cold winter as compared to a pinot or cabernet (one with balance) which are eminently more suited to a spring or autumn roster.

I must admit that a lot of Margaret River wine is no longer in the regular drinking list (plus i tend to look out for auction sales with these - more realistic prices imo).
From Moss Wood, I am more likely to pick the Amy or from Woodlands, the Margaret blends. Both are enjoyable and cellar surprisingly well.