Category: Wine Criticism

Dark Secrets of the 100 Point Wine Scale

Even if the 100 point wine scoring system is not going away anytime soon, wine consumers are getting wise to some shameful flaws. Yet another ghastly pair of endemic faults which are seemingly never discussed?

Glass ceilings for certain wines, and perhaps more insidiously: the invisible, deleterious effects of moderation drinker rationale.


“Once the Wine Spectator wrote a story on Beaujolais.  The top wine had a score of 86 or 88.  I sent them a note saying I’d read the article and thought the wine might be to my taste, ‘But could you please tell me the names of people who really know how to make Beaujolais as I’d like to taste some 90+ point wines.’  They wrote back saying ‘You don’t understand. (Click to Read more)

Here Lies the Carcass of Napa Valley Winemaking



The Tragedy of Napa Valley,

as Seen Through the Lens of

BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve

Two weeks had passed, and I still couldn’t bring myself to pour the 2010 Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Georges de Latour Private Reserve down the drain. It had been offered to me as a gift, and I knew damn well how much it cost. After relegating the bottle to my fridge and checking in periodically hoping that either the wine or my palate would change, I tried one last time and then finally accepted the inevitable.

BV 2010 outclassed by Marmandais malbec
Who better accompanied smoked duck magret? You guessed it.

This $100 bottle of wine is an undrinkable monstrosity. The $10 2011 Château Terrebert Cotes du Marmandais aside it is a far more alluring wine. The Terrebert was finished; the BV was poured down the drain.

Even if there’s no correspondence between price and quality in wine, it’s a bit shocking: how did BV end up crafting a wine that was impossible to drink? And what could the BV have tasted like?


André Tchelistcheff is a deity among California wine enthusiasts. If Georges de Latour — a French businessman who founded the Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa Valley in 1900 — was the visionary who selected the vineyard site and European vine clones to plant, Tchelistcheff was the humble master technician who (Click to Read more)

Why the Hell Don’t You Ever See a 100 point Chablis? pt 2/2

In this final article (here is the first) examining our curious critical prejudice against dry white wines, I examine our inability to fully appreciate perfect Chablis with Patrick Piuze and share tasting notes on four of my all-time favorites.


If you’ve not yet tried a Piuze Chablis, you don’t know what you’re missing.


Patrick Piuze left his wine bar in Montréal in 2000 to make Chablis, and after working for Leflaive, Verget, and Brocard, he knocked it out of the park in his first solo vintage: the outstanding 2008. Some dubbed him the new Raveneau. In addition to his Grand and 1er cru bottlings and his absolutely stellar Petit Chablis, Piuze also vinifies AOC-level grapes that he purchases from growers in various Chablis regional terroirs that he groups in a single bottling: “Terroir de Courgis”, “Terroir de Fleys”, “Terroir de Chichée”, or “Terroir de Fyé”.

These subdivided AOC bottlings compel us to listen even closer to Chablis. “Talk to people in Courgis or in Fleys, and they’ll tell you it’s all the same. But it’s not,” Piuze notes. Piuze also notes how in one particular portion of the grand cru Valmur — where he purchases grapes from Domaine Vocoret — there is a significant difference in the size of the grapes based on the varying amounts of limestone and clay underfoot; he notes how this invariably affects drainage and drastically changes what ends up in the glass1.

One senses in Patrick Piuze a respect for his growers’ grapes and a deeply ingrained reverence for the Chablis terroir, a humble and passionate man before his task. He did have some slightly irreverent things to say, however, about wine critics’ inability to recognize perfect Chablis:

Aside from needing to be an authentic expression of terroir, what is a perfect Chablis? When does a Chablis distinguish itself from others to the point where it deserves to be considered perfect?

In Chablis, we produce Chablis, and the Chardonnay grape is only a vector to accomplish that goal. What deserves to be called “perfect” is when the wine talks about its origine — where it’s from. Chablis can be described as acidity and minerality, bonded together, lending Chablis its own particular personality.

Do you think Chablis must age its ten years and acquire tertiary characteristics in order to be considered perfect? Should a luscious, younger Chablis be judged perfect by critics?

In Chablis, vintage is a very important issue, quite simply because we end up with two distinct styles of wine. (Click to Read more)

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