We frequently receive e-mails from subscribers asking if a particular wine has been reviewed. There seems to be an unfortunate presumption that Allen has tasted a wine of a specific producer but did not include a review for that wine because he didn’t like it. This is NOT the case. Please note that Allen firmly believes that it is just as important that readers know which wines to avoid as it is to know which wines merit your attention!
We understand some critics do not comment upon any wine receiving less than a certain score. By contrast, our policy is simple: During domaine or winery visits, if a domaine or winery presents a wine for consideration, and it is to the best of our knowledge representative of the final product and has finished both its primary and secondary fermentations, then it is reviewed – no exceptions.
So if, for example, you are looking in the database at a range of 2009’s from a specific Burgundian producer and you do not see a particular wine in the database, it means that it was not presented for review and does NOT mean that it received an exceptionally poor score. If it is not in the database, it has not been reviewed. If you do not see any wines for a particular producer in a given year in the database, then it means Allen did not review the wines – it does NOT mean he tasted them and found them to be uninspiring.
A BRIEF WORD ABOUT SCORES: Numerical scores are endlessly debated among wine lovers. Inevitably, critics tend to emphasize certain characteristics at the expense of others. What follows is an explication of scores at Burghound.com and the underlying taste values they reflect.
Simply put, Burgundies that emphasize purity, elegance, overall balance and a clear expression of the underlying terroir are rated more highly than Burgundies that don’t deliver these qualities. Other important characteristics, and this is true for U. S. pinot noir as well, include typicity, richness, balanced extraction, length and harmony. For example, a Volnay should taste like a Volnay and a grand cru should deliver a grand cru drinking experience.
The score is a summation of the taster’s thoughts about a wine. It does not actually express those thoughts. Clearly, a mere number cannot fully represent the nuanced, detailed impression conveyed by a tasting note therefore a narrative is provided for each wine to assist the reader in making a decision on which wines suit the individual’s tastes and preferences.
Please note: Wines are scored based on their expected quality at peak drinkability. Many grands crus that will, I believe, “be” a 92 may not necessarily taste like a 92-point wine when young, thanks to the tannins or general inaccessibility.
Burgundies rated 90 points or above are worth a special effort to find and cellar. Wines rated 85 or above are recommended, especially among regional and villages level wines. There will be relatively few 90+ point wines, simply because there are relatively few outstanding and superlative wines. Finished, bottled wines are assigned specific scores as these wines are market-ready. Wines tasted from barrel are scored within a range. This reflects the reality that a wine tasted from barrel is not a finished, market-ready product.
95 – 100: Truly incomparable and emotionally thrilling. A wine so rated is as good as a wine gets. By definition, it is reference standard for its appellation.
90 – 94: Outstanding. Worth a special effort to purchase and cellar and will provide memorable drinking experiences.
85 – 89: Good to High quality. Wines that offer solid quality in every respect and generally very good typicity. “Good Value” wines will often fall into this category. Worth your attention.
80 – 84: Average quality. The wine may be “correct”, unless noticeable flaws are indicated in the narrative, and provide straightforward, drinking.
76 – 79: Barely Acceptable quality. The wine is not worth your attention nor is it a good value.
75 and Below: Don’t Bother. A wine with noticeable, irremediable flaws.