We do not use the points of Parker, Suckling , Vinous etc to sell wines or champagnes for a number of reasons. Having sold wines in restaurants and in retail I am acutely aware of the divergence in individual taste. One customer can loves rich, fruity wines or champagnes and another customer can detest them, prefering, mineral driven wines and champagnes with lots of acidity.
I can fully understand, if your taste aligns to a critics palate, then it makes sense to follow them. However we see a tendency for rich, powerful wines and in the meantime also champagnes that follow this course to receive high points and wines and champagnes that do not align to this taste profile receive lesser scores. Warm vintages are being touted as vintage of the century and each new warm vintage seems to surpass the last one. Riesling in Germany 2019 is a case in point.
A number of things trouble me. Firstly the divergence in taste, on more occassions than I would like to recall lesser scored wines have impresses me more than high pointers, why is this so? A tester takes one or two sips and spits the wine out. I have nothing against spitting, I have to do it myself, but I am acutely aware the impression gained are not the same as when I drink a bottle over the course of one or two days, preferably with food, only then do I feel I understand a wine. Often at tastings wines that impressed me most from a quick sip disappointed me afterwards and wines and champagnes that did not speak to me at a tasting really impressed me when drunk alone over time.
Also considering these testers are tasting at time more than a hundred wines in one day. I have done this often and my feeling is the impressions I gain are superficial. When I read the hyperbolic, fruit salad descriptions of some testers, (I recommend Critic's bingo) I wonder are these guys really supertasters or is it all nonsense. I tend to think the latter.
What disturbs me most, is the closeness of numerous testers to the producers. Clive Coates said when you drink an old bottle of Burgundy, you are probably the only person at ths point in time who is drinking it.
I can understand the attraction of being invited to a vertical of Romanée Conti or Roeder Cristal, I myself would not turn such a chance down. But who is the real winner by such tastings. The tester ultimately has to write a report and rate the wines, how unprejudiced can they actually be, for the chateaus and producers this is without questiona great publicity gag and a chance to inflate the prices. For the subscribers, who can actually afford these wines it might be interesting but for the rest of us it is just a mixture of wine-porn and advertising.
What perhaps is most disturbing for us is the reaction of producers and price inflation. A producer, who we have worked with for a long time, meaning when he was unknown, this year received high points. Suddenly he did not want to give us our allocation, in fact he blocked out numerous cavistes, who supported him their allocations. His reasons were extremely contradictory. Ultimately William Kelley of Parker had awarded his champagnes scores of 95 -99 points. In the USA such wines and champagnes can cost 300$ -500$ and there are no end of customers willing to buy. Investment firms in London with their bonded warehouses recommend taking such champagnes into portfolios as based on the points, they are sure investments. Does the tester really help the cosumer. I do not think so. Or as Antonio Galloni said in an interview, those who can best afford these champagnes and wines are not necessarily those best suited to understand those champagne and wines. Makes you really question the purpose in what he does and his and his teams attendance of so many veticals organised by the producers.