|Happy New Year - Bonne Annee 2021 |
by ©Domelgabor / ©LeDomduVin 2020
|Happy New Year - Bonne Annee 2021 |
by ©Domelgabor / ©LeDomduVin 2020
|Map Courtesy of https://www.origins.wine/rioja |
edited for and by ©LeDomduVin 2020
|Vinedos del Contino - Map Courtesy of www.google.com Map|
edited by and for ©LeDomduVin 2020
|Vinedos del Contino - Map Courtesy of Google Map - |
edited by and for ©LeDomduVin 2020
|CONTINO Reserva 2015 Rioja Spain |
by ©LeDomduVin 2020
|Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noel |
from LeDomduVin to all of you in the world
by ©LeDomduVin 2020
2020 has been an extremely difficult year, all around the world, for all the reasons we know all too well...
Fortunately, it is coming to an end, with the hope of a better 2021. Yet, we all know that 2021 is bound to be a difficult year too.
That's why, like every year, I wanted to wish to all of you, a "MERRY CHRISTMAS" & "JOYEUX NOEL", but more particularly so, this year, as this year, Christmas is far from going to be a "Happy", and even less a "Merry" Christmas for a lot of people around the world.
I'm thinking about all the people who have been particularly affected, directly or indirectly, not only by the COVID-19 situation, but by all the situations we have encountered this particular year 2020.
I'm lucky enough to still have my job, to still be able to buy presents for my kids, to be able to put food on the table and live in an apartment that I can still rent, under a roof where my family and I can feel safe and protected.
However, this is not (and has not been) the case for millions of people around the world, for weeks, even months (probably a few years for some, as 2019 has not been a great year for many either, for plenty of other reasons).
And, these are the people I'm thinking about, all the forgotten, all those who will not be able to celebrate these end-of-the-year holidays with their families and friends and loves ones and other relatives. Those who won't be able to put food in their plate, on their table. People who lose their home, their job, their situation, their life as they knew it.
All of those who have been directly and indirectly impacted by the already difficult economical, financial, political and societal crises that were occurring in many countries, long before the virus came to exacerbate and aggravate the situation even more.
All of those who have been impacted by the wars, the civil unrests, the political unrests, the protests, the genocides, the famines, the mass exodus, the epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic too, and whatever else man-made absurd and irrational actions (and their consequences) that caused them to be in this situation.
All of those who have lost everything in the fire, in Australia of course, but also on the West Coast of the US, in Brazil, and in other places too like in Africa (yet, it was barely covered by the international press, so barely no one has heard about it).
All of those who, instead of fire, lost everything in the water, in massive floods, due to overflowing rivers, eventually a dam break, but more specifically due to ice and snowmelt, and unusually heavy rainfall, and even heavy and damaging hail, resulting from massive storms, typhoons and hurricanes (that seem to have grown stronger and more numerous from a year to the next).
2020 was a year of unremitting and unprecedented extreme climate events and "supposedly" natural disasters, from heatwaves to droughts to wildfires to hurricanes to floods, many of which scientists have directly linked to human-caused climate change. Each event has taken a huge toll in lives lost and irremediable damages incurred.
Such disasters cost many lives, and I'm not talking only about human lives, wildlife too and nature in general, all around the globe and everywhere too (air, water and ground), which added to the ever-increasing pollution is causing massive extinctions.
Climate change includes both the global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns, combined with human pollution and, in general, human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere. Like carbon dioxide, the largest sources being the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas for power generation, transportation and industrial manufacturing processes.
To which we can add the pollution generated by the trash, either incinerated, dumped in the water and/or buried in opened and/or non-opened landfills. And all the pollution caused by all the chemicals used directly and or indirectly in the over-production of food and other agricultural products.
Funny, how, over the last 6-8 months, with the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the news, some of these events (or even most of them) have rapidly and already faded into memory, while they caused (and are still causing every day) as much or even more damaged than the virus itself.
The government's misleading attitudes toward the gravity of the situations and how to prevent to put their citizens in danger, as well as, and more particularly, the mishandling of these various events, including the various disasters, but more especially the pandemic situation (in most countries), resulted into a very unstable world economy, civil and political unrests everywhere, protests, rise of unemployment and precarity, with millions of people losing their jobs, unable to make ends meet, or to simply live as they used to only a few months ago for some and/or about a year ago for most...
And I'm not even talking about the public backlash against racism, during the Black Lives Matter movements or any other movements that occurred this past year.
However, there are so many other subjects I could write about, in this post, and could even "re-do" the whole year 2020, all over again, with all the events that occurred, but that is not the purpose of this post.
The purpose of today's post is for all of us to have thoughts, and even help if we can, those who have less than we have and are in essential needs. For those for whom living has become a daily struggle and may have dire consequences on the mid to long term, both psychologically and physically, as well as emotionally and morally.
Consequently, in the eve of Christmas, a period of religious and cultural celebrations among billions of people around the world, traditionally marked by events such as gift-giving, family and other social gatherings, symbolic decoration, feasting, charities and helping and being with others, I just want to encourage everyone to give a hand to those who need it most. I will do the same.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND JOYEUX NOEL to all of you around the world, and think about others, this year, more than ever.
Think about the people in your family, your friends, and all the other people you love and care for.
More especially, with the virus becoming more infectious (these past few weeks), and who knows, maybe even more virulent at some point, and with all the people locked-in and/or living far from their native country, family and friends (like me), now is the time to think about them: give them a call, send them an email, text them, WhatsApp them or even better video-chat them.
And you have no excuses, as there are so many tools you can use to reach out for them and to them.
Enjoy the rest of this week towards Christmas, and may your Christmas be a "Happy" or "Merry" one, well spent with your family and/or friends (if possible).
Until next time, be and stay safe, and take good care of yourselves and all your loved ones.
Cheers! Santé! And Merry Christmas to you all.!
LeDomduVin (a.k.a. Dominique Noël)
#christmas #merrychristmas #joyeuxnoel #Feliznavidad #feliznatal #tothewholeworld #toeveryone #illustration #lesillustrationsadom #lescollagesadom #collage #wishes #christmaswishes #christmascard #card #ledomduvin @ledomduvin ©ledomduvin
Unless specified or notified otherwise, ALL the above, including, but not limited to, illustrations, drawings, pictures, photos, tables, graphs and texts, etc... property of ©LeDomduVin 2020FYI: Thank you for crediting me on any materials or texts included in this post that you might use.
|The Wine Scoring Dilemma |
by ©LeDomduVin 2020
Who still believes in wine scores? You do?
Personally, I'm sitting on the fence. I'm not necessarily against it, but I'm not necessarily for it either.
And, this post comes "très à propos" (very appropriately, if you prefer), as all the Wine Critics and Wine Magazines are releasing their BEST OF and/or TOP 100 Wines of the Year 2020 (1).
I'm on the fence because, first of all, tasting wine is very subjective.
And, secondly: Wine is alive! This means that wine continuously changes and evolves while ageing in the bottle and even reacts to its immediate surroundings and storage conditions.
Like any living being, amongst other things, a wine goes through phases and can rapidly change in terms of aspect, aromas/flavours and taste, depending on:
And, if you want to go even further, as everything on this earth is, one way or another, influenced by, affected by, and/or even related to various forces and energies here on earth (but also by/with those influenced or directly emanating from the moon, the sun, the other planets of our solar system and even, to a certain extent, the cosmos), we could even say that, as per the lunar calendar (organic/biodynamic), better consider tasting and drinking wine on "Flower" and "Fruit" days, rather than on "Root" or "Leaf" days.
That's already a lot of reasons and factors that may alter and/or influence the subjectivity and objectivity of the taster (i.e. the Wine Critic, Press, Oenologists, etc...) and the "genuity" of the given score, isn't it?
Therefore, it is essential to put things back into context and understand that "scores" only represent the olfaction and tasting bud's primary reaction of a particular individual (i.e. the taster: Wine Critic, Press, etc..) to a particular wine, tasted within particular conditions, on a very particular day, and with all the possible potentially influential factors imaginable.
That is a bit reductive, but it sums up the situation quite well.
Fortunately, the Wine Critic or Journalist's experience and palate's skills and accuracy come to play a major role in this equation. To a certain extent, they moderate these influences and "usually" ensure that the score/rating given to a tasted wine is genuine and representative, not attributed due to these potentially influential factors.
Yet, always remember that the dependability of a wine scoring system rests on those who set, moderate, and give the scores to the wines (i.e., Wine Critic, Press, etc..).
And, even the most accurate and skilful Wine Critic (or any experienced wine professional tasting and scoring wine, for that matter, including me) is vulnerable when faced with, affected by or influenced by any of these factors. It is a very human condition. Our mind is not as rigid, impermeable and impartial as the CPU of a computer, a robot or artificial intelligence.
It is true. You have to admit it. It is always more difficult to taste and give low or bad scores to the wine of a property or a winemaker you've loved or even known and "tested" for years. Or worst, the wine of a friend, colleague, old acquaintance, family, or anyone else you've shared memorable moments with. More especially if the wine reveals great features.
On the contrary, if/when the wine is not as good as it could have been or should have been (depending on the vintage, the history of the wine or even the brand) and many other reasons, then hesitation and indecision will come to knock on the wall of your brain, interrogating and questioning your mind and senses. And no matter how genuine and well-intentioned you wanted to be, and despite all your self-discipline and rigorous methodology, you might still give that half a point or even a point more to that wine...
Because, in certain conditions and circumstances, it is difficult to separate things, measure the euphoria, control the joy, and prevent or attenuate the infatuation while trying to maintain the needed and necessary detachment and neutrality to remain impartial and keep your integrity.
More especially when you taste a wine that shines with all the energy and passion a winemaker has placed in it. Even more, especially if you are acquainted with or know that specific producer/winemaker and/or have loved his/her wine(s) for years.
It is difficult to badly score or write about wine made by your friend or a winemaker (you know and like his/her wines), especially when the wine is good, great or even brilliant, or worst, if, on the contrary, the wine is not that good, without arousing suspicion of collusion with others. Hence the reason for being as impartial as you can be and keeping your integrity as much as possible, remain neutral and distant to erase the assumptions and interpretations of others.
But God only knows how difficult it is, as not only taste, relationship, acquaintance or friendship, come to play in this equation, price too. This means that wines of high pedigree and price always influence or even command high scores (in most press and wine critics' minds).
Although the price of a wine is usually/normally/supposedly directly related to the quality (the greater the quality, the higher the price) and/or the quantity (the lower the production, the higher the price), always remember that great wine doesn't have to be necessarily expensive. High price does not always make the wine either. I will not give any examples or names, but I know a lot of expensive wines that are not as great as they should be to command such a high price.
And that said, even if Wine Critics or Press know all of the above "All too well", it seems their ratings cannot help but be influenced by the price somehow (I guess it is part of the game). Meaning that it is rare to see an expensive wine get a bad or low rating. While in my opinion, it should get a low or bad rating if it is bad or not up to the quality or reflects the price it commands. And the same goes for renowned high-end Châteaux/producers/brands.
Consequently, I will say, "Choose the Wine Critic or Journalist that you want to follow" well and preferably select the one (or the few) who you feel are "genuine" (as per your point of view) and that you can trust, and maybe have a comparable or similar palate and taste as yours.
For example, when I was working in NYC in the early 2000s, my boss was a Robert Parker Jr "groupie" (he was a man, but still...), while my director was more a James Suckling follower, and personally, I had already figured out that my palate and way of scoring was closer and more similar to Stephen Tanzer with its International Wine Cellar's wine rating system on a 70-100 point quality scale.
That said, I never understood and still don't understand the point of rating below 88pts? - or at the most below 85 pts - as it does not serve anyone to rate a wine that low. If below 85pts, it might be better not to score the wine and let people make their own opinion.
As I always say:
"When a wine is bad, the wine is bad! No matter the pedigree, history, classification, rank or price! Better not to score it than tarnish its reputation. It does not serve anyone." - LeDomduVin
|LeDomduVin's 5-Star Wine Rating Scale |
by ©LeDomduVin 2020
And that is the reason why I'm on the fence with scoring wine, wine scoring and wine scores in general, and also why, long ago, as a young Sommelier and Wine Buyer, I had to develop and use my own wine scoring way: a personal wine rating scale more adapted and suited to my wine buyer's needs, and to be used for big tastings and events mainly.
Therefore, please understand "my way of scoring" is a "Wine Buyer Scoring Scale" rather than a "Wine Critic or Journalist's Scoring Scale". I use it to quickly assess a wine's intrinsic qualities without spending too much time tasting it or dissecting every detail of it. It allows me to make quick buying decisions during a tasting.
It is a 5-star rating scale that I can easily understand and that is solely based on my taste bud's immediate reaction. I had to develop it, especially for big tastings and events, to be able to focus only on the good wines, go fast and differentiate my ratings from the other rating systems to prevent their influence on my buying decisions (which was critical when I was a wine buyer for restaurants and retails back in the days, and even till these days).
Meaning that I usually approach all wine tastings the same way: with essential knowledge and information about the region(s) and vintage(s) to be tasted. And, eventually, about the featured wines to be tasted too (if I saw the list prior to going to the tasting or if the list was provided at the beginning of the tasting), but not necessarily, as I usually prefer to go to a tasting with a clear head, uncluttered of unnecessary thoughts or ratings/scores that I could possibly have seen or known about some of the wines.
So, I created my own custom "5-Star Wine Rating Scale" scoring method and adopted this tasting approach to assessing the wines as they are and for what they are. Assess their respective intrinsic qualities, as well as their quality/price ratio, the most simply and efficiently I could possibly put it, with a "Wine Buyer" minded attitude and mannerism (meaning not like a "Wine Critic" or a journalist):
0 - NO (I dislike it, won't buy it, next !!!)
1 - OK (I don't dislike it, but I'm not a fan either, probably won't buy it unless the price is low)
2 - MAYBE (It is interesting but may present flaws or angularities, I may buy it if the price is good)
3 - LIKE IT (I will buy it, especially if the price is good)
4 - LIKE IT A LOT (I definitely need to buy it, especially if I can get a discount for 10 cases or more)
5 - LOVE IT (A must-have! How many cases can I buy? When can I have the wine? )
As you can notice, on any five-star scale, regardless of the bottom rating, 3 stars are often the lowest positive rating, and it is the same on my scale too. Though judging on a purely mathematical basis, 2.5 stars should be the dividing line between good and bad on a 0-5 scale, but I skipped the 1/2 (half star) to make it easier and went straight to the upper point. After all, I created that 5-Star Wine Rating scale to prevent having to bother with too many details and make fast wine-buying decisions, so no half-star!
Prior to going into more detail about my "own way of scoring", complemented with my "LeDomduVin's Tasting 5-Star Wine Rating Scale" Table explanation in the paragraphs further below, I would like to come back and extend my thoughts a little more, on the "Wine Scoring" and "Wine Scores" Dilemma.
|The Wine Critic Tasting Notes Paradox |
by © LeDomduVin 2018
Like most wine buyers, over my nearly 30 years career in wine, I was forced to adapt and adopt many different ways of scoring wines and rating scales depending on the critics, journalists, magazines and websites I was reading or following (e.g. 3 stars, 5 stars, 10 points, 20 and/or 100 points scales).
I had to do it to compare my personal tasting notes and descriptions with those from the "professionals" but also in order to comprehend and read through their scores and the lines of their tasting notes, which can be pretty confusing sometimes.
By "reading through the lines and the scores" (of the Wine Critics and Journalists), I mean trying to understand what differentiates an "88" from a "90", or even a "92, or a "94" from a "98" in THEIR language and way of scoring. And trust me on this, it is not always an easy task!
More especially if, like me, you prefer descriptive and detailed wine-tasting notes/descriptions that have a meaning and clearly indicate that difference, which is far from always being the case, depending on the wine critic.
Some of them only give short and undescriptive tasting notes/descriptions that are fairly similar or sometimes nearly identical, yet with different scores, making it really difficult to understand why there is such a difference in scores.
Let's take, for example, a very confusing situation where the respective descriptions of two different wines (from the same appellation, same grape varieties and same vintage) are almost the same, or sometimes even identical, but somehow generate two drastically different scores.
The following is a great example. I wrote it and put it into an illustration for a previous post (2) (see also my illustration above), but I'm re-using it as it is perfect to illustrate that kind of situation:
"Black fruit, good acidity, polished texture, good structure and balance, long persistent finish" - 89
"Black fruit, refreshing, smooth texture, combining structure and balance, long-lasting finish" - 96
Do you see what I mean? It is definitely not easy to understand why one commands an "89" and the other a "96" while the descriptions are so very similar, isn't it? I think you get my point.
Consequently, that is why, in my opinion, "wine scoring" and "wine scores" have always been a huge dilemma (for me and most people I know in the industry).
Moreover, what to choose? Which scale? 100 or 20-point scale? (or even a 10-point scale back a long time ago...). And beside points, what else? 3- or 5-Star scale? Or even a 3- or 5-Wine-Glasses scale?
Depending on which side of the globe you're on, rating scales are different and their understanding and meaning too. Sometimes what could or should seem to be logical isn't! And it is very frustrating!
Just to name a few, and there are so many more... It is a dilemma, isn't it? (At least, it is to me...)
This is a dilemma, even more so, as, nowadays, thousands of professionals and non-professionals (who could eventually be added to the above list) are now surfing the growing wave of wine vloggers and wine influencers on social media, posting thousands of wine descriptions, pictures and even streaming media and live videos everywhere on Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik-Tok and even LinkedIn now, and surely on all the other social media and networks I do not know, or I'm not registered with).
Thus, it is more fun and interactive now, isn't it?... Sure!
Yet, it makes it even more difficult to choose who to follow and who to listen to now.
Yet again, surprisingly, and it is an excellent surprise (like most wine bloggers, like me, at the beginning of "blogging" back 10-15 years ago), nowadays, Wine Influencers speak with their guts and passion for what they like and love. They do NOT use any rating or scoring scale.
They just use their own words to translate and transcribe what they have in their minds to convey a passionate and animated message to the world, free of "too-short-to-mean-anything" descriptions and "often-incomprehensible-and-weirdly-attributed" scores. And I looooooooooove it!!! I find it soooo refreshing!
Just to name a few among some of my favourites that I have been following on Instagram (some more recently than others) (mostly French Wine-Influencers, sorry)
You can also browse the Feedspot Top 200 Wine Instagram Influencers most followed in 2020 to see if some of the people you follow made a list.
So, although I just wrote all the above and could still talk about this fascinating subject for hours, I have already long debated and detailed the subjects of "Scoring Wines" and "Wine Scores" in two of my previous posts, here and here. Therefore, I did not want necessarily to write another post about it. So, why did I?
So, what prompted me to write today's post (about "wine scoring", "wine scores" and "wine critics"), was the reaction of a friend who, a few days after the tasting of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB) Bordeaux 2017 Vintage, in Hong Kong (November 25th), asked me to send him a list of the wines from this tasting with "scores".
As I was trying to finish my previous post on that specific UGCB Bordeaux 2017 Vintage tasting (read it here), I told him that as soon as I finish the post, I will send him the link, so he can see and read about the wines I liked/loved from the tasting, based on the various pictures and tasting notes included in the post.
But, he replied (to me):
"I thought you would give me (or even put) your scores out of 100pts on your post, on your blog, but it is probably too divisive, although I don't know, maybe you can still express yourself and put up the scores without the Chateaux having griefs against you".
To which I replied (answer edited for this post):
"I usually never rate on a 100-point scale. More especially during big wine tastings or events. I just use my own rating scale and put stars when I taste: 3 Stars (I like), 4 Stars (I like it a lot) and 5 Stars (I love it), based on the quality of the wine first, and I also try to take into consideration the "quality/price" ratio when I award stars while tasting. Other than that, I'm only writing tasting notes (which I find more interesting and more descriptive than rating the wines anyway). However, I'll try to convert my stars to try to rate the wines on a 100-point scale, for you, based on what I wrote during the tasting, then send it to you. Yet, I probably won't put those ratings out of 100pts on my blog, so as to not receive any criticisms or comments from the properties." (FYI: I do not put my stars on my posts on my blog either, for the record).
To which, I immediately added:
"I developed this method while working in the US, in New York, when I was a buyer for wine & spirits retail stores. So, it's a wine buyer's method, not a wine critic rating scale system. During tastings, there is usually no time to assess the lesser wines (not to say "mediocre" or "bad"), so, if not good enough, no star and I move on to the next one. As for the ones I gave 1 and/or 2 stars, I usually revisit them at the end of the tasting to be sure (and if I have time too). After re-tasting them, unless I made a mistake, the 1-star wines end up being discarded from my selection. And the 2-stars wines are kept only if the quality/price ratio is interesting, but still only remain considered as "Ok" (instead of "Maybe"), and probably won't be bought. They often end up being discarded too."
|Wine Rating Scales Comparison Table |
by ©LeDomduVin 2020
|LeDomduVin Tasting 5-Star Wine Rating Scale |
by ©LeDomduVin 2020