How I rate wines

How I rate wines

Everyone is unique in terms of aromatic perception for various reasons. People don’t have the same taste sensors, not the same saliva production and also have been diversely exposed to aromas given their origin and education. Needless to say that a Korean or an Argentinean have distinctly different aroma repertoires…

Based on the fact that we are all different as regards to taste and flavours one can argue that rating wine is a non-sense. Like in arts for instance, using a notation for a Picasso vs. a Rembrandt? Non- sense. However a Picasso has a market price and a Rembrandt another. What makes one rated better than the other is its market price. i. e. what people are ready to pay. That goes beyond the pure technique of the painter or other tangible criteria.

What about wine? Well in a sense it can be compared to paintings. Why some wines are more in demand than others? Why a Petrus or an Opus One reach the prices they demand? Not only because of the brand but because of the fact that beyond everyone’s unique taste there seem to be a consensus on the basic qualities a good wine must have. The purpose of rating and notation is just there to validate a number of commonly accepted criteria such as balance, complexity, finish and ageing. Rating and noting wine is therefore not subjective when a generally accepted methodology is used. Net net a wine note is nothing else than the validation of certain criteria leaving everyone free with their own taste.

The notation must also be performed in relation to wines in general and not to a specific country or region. All wines must be in the same starting blocks and notation must not be influenced by market drivers. As an illustration selling a Merlot in Argentina is difficult as the market is not favouring Merlot. That should not be a reason to underrate that type of wine. On the contrary I would look at comparing Argentinean Merlot with all the wines that are being tasted and also with Merlot that are being produced in other places such as in Libournais in France.

I would describe my ratings as international. To make it even more precise I have a European/French perspective on the wine I taste and rate. This has to be taken into account when appreciating my ratings.

After all this preamble there is a saying that summarizes succinctly what a good wine is: “a good wine is a wine that sells well”.

Latinawine is using a rating grid from 70 to 100

I see the 80 to 85 mark range as benchmark notes corresponding to a well done, with no faults, balanced and good to drink wine (see our notation in Our marks section).

A wine rated by Latinawine will bear the letters LW followed by a note. For example LW 85. .

Specific issue as to young wines with sound ageing potential:

I am raising that issue especially because most of the wines produced in Latin America are for immediate consumption. The culture of keeping the wine in cellars for years is progressing but slowly.

I am often therefore facing the dilemma of having to rate a young wine with great ageing potential but that goes on the market too soon. For those types of wines which are young or in early maturity I would generally rate them below 90pts when they are already good for an early consumption as well as having an ageing potential.

I try as much as I can to taste the same wine again later in its life. In such case the consumer will see “2nd tasting” or even “3rd tasting” as the case maybe in front of the wine name.