Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wine Scoring System

Wine and Scoring - Finally comes to the MATCH POINT! and I am nobody on either 2.

4 scoring system in Wine World: Robert Parker Scale; Wine Spectator Score; Decanter Star and UC Davis System, the most famous of all would be the renowned wine critic / lawyer Mr. Robert Parker's RP scale.

Robert Parker 100 point scale system

It is based on the 100 point scale system in which is branded as the key reference to pricing trend of wine futures, impacting the wine stock exchange market

Robert Parker's rating system employs a 50-100 point quality scale (Parker Points®). It is the belief that the various twenty (20) point rating systems do not provide enough flexibility and often result in compressed and inflated wine ratings. He prefers to underestimate the wine's quality than to overestimate it. The numerical ratings are utilized only to enhance and complement the thorough tasting notes, communicating his judgments to us.

96 - 100 An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.90 - 95 An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.
80 – 89 A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws.
70 – 79 An average wine with little distinction except that it is a soundly made. In essence, a straightforward, innocuous wine.
60 – 69 A below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor, or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.
50 – 59 A wine deemed to be unacceptable.

Wine Spectator's 100 point scale

The Wine Spectator is a longtime advocate of the popular 100-point rating scale. This is how the magazine explains its scoring system: 'Wines are always tasted blind. Bottles are bagged and coded. Tasters are told only the general type of wine (varietal or region) and vintage. Price is not taken into account.' The magazine says its ratings are based on 'potential quality, on how good the wines will be when they are at their peaks'.

95-100  Classic, a great wine. 
90-94  Outstanding, a wine of superior character and style. 
80-89  Good to very good, a wine with special qualities. 
70-79  Average, a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws. 
60-69  Below average, drinkable but not recommended. 
50-59  Poor, undrinkable, not recommended.

All official Wine Spectator tastings are held in private rooms, under optimum conditions. They will be blind tasting, non blind tasting and barrel tasting to confirm impressions.


Decanter 5 star system
Decanter’s admirable 5-star system. Even Hugh Johnson is praising the system in his column. Decanter magazine, an influential wine periodical in England, has a dedicated readership worldwide. This publication employs a 1- to 5-star rating system popularized by Michael Broadbent in his Great Vintage Wine Book. Decanter tastings are conducted blind and participating panelists change with each tasting.

5 stars  Outstanding quality, virtually perfect example
4 stars  Highly recommended
3 stars  Recommended
2 stars  Quite good
1 star  Acceptable


UC Davis 20 Point Scale System

The Davis system was developed by Dr. Maynard A. Amerine, Professor of Enology at the University of California at Davis, and his staff in 1959 as a method of rating the large number of experimental wines that were being produced at the university.

The Davis system is quite straightforward. It assigns a certain number of points to each of ten categories which are then totaled to obtain the overall rating score for a given wine.
17 - 20 Wines of outstanding characteristics having no defects
13 - 16 Standard wines with neither oustanding character or defect
9 - 12 Wines of commercial acceptability with noticeable defects
5 - 8 Wines below commercial acceptability
1 - 5 Completely spoiled wines

Appearance (2 points) - The wine is given 2 points if it is brilliant, with no dullness, murkiness, or particles of sediment.
Color (2 points) - Acceptable colors for white wines are varying shades of yellow, gold, straw. Flaws are any amber tones, indicating oxidation.
Aroma and Bouquet (4 points). Aroma is the sensory impression arising from the mouth. Negative factors are odors that can be described as alcoholic, excessively woody, moldy or corked.
Volatile Acidity (2 points) - This is the term for Vinegary-ascensence. Does the wine smell of vinegar? If not, it rates 2 points. A slight vinegar smell will rate 1 point. If it smells of vinegar it rates 0.
Total Acidity (2 points) - Felt in the mouth, around the edges of the tongue, it is wine's refreshing zing. If low, the wine is flat, flabby or soapy. It can be too high with unpleasant sharpness.
Sweetness/sugar (1 point) - Sugar and total acidity go together. Overly set for the wine's type is a fault, as is overly dry.
Body (1 point) - This is the wine's viscous nature identified as mouth-feel, also the binges, or alcoholic strength.
Flavor (1 points) - The flavor should correspond with the bouquet and aroma, being clean, fruity, full or balanced. It should not be metallic, steamy, or alien in character.
Astringency (2 points) - Tannins give a wine astringency (or bitterness), and so does the wood in which wine is aged. Younger wines will be rougher than older wines. A young wine is not discounted for a natural tannin.
General Quality (2 points) - The only category for subjective appraisal, adjusting the score on the basis of the wine's total performance.


Where's the last point? -- Guest it's for compensation if needed...

If you start in doubt with the scores... you are...Absolutely right!
There is no such thing called Bible of wine score. Even prestigeous as what Robert Parker gives you, it is from his fundamental preference of wine and from his sense to the wine. I would take more reference on his view about how long the wine will get to maturity, is it ready to drink and its potential , rather than the taste.

To give you an example, by this month's CRU magazine, it is about Sake that 6 sommelier or wine experts are tasting. Compare the tasting notes of each to the same wine, while one can taste the seaweed and nuts, another will have light citrus fruit and dry fruits, how can such a contrast appear at once? Hence I think you can trust your own taste buds and preference to your favourite wine. RP 100 pts may only be your 80 pts. From there you may find your favourite at reasonable price.

Now, pray to God that your preference is not like RP, otherwise you have to be as rich to get your favourite.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Marriage is crucial - Carmen Wine Dinner by Sinolink

Don’t get me wrong, I am relating this to food marriage with wine, in most of the times are more essential than the wine itself, especially here when I am referring to the wine dinner. Preparation before wine dinner is important.

Carmen is almost the daily drinking in my family, trying the reserve this time is pretty sensible thing to do, try scaling up. $400 for the menu below sounds totally worth it.

Given all the dishes are very adorable and indicating chef’s skilfulness, we should be delightful in the dinner, however that is not the desirable outcome.

Apperitif: Carmen Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2009
WSA Wine Challenge 2010: Bronze Medal
Clear palate, bright choice. Mum’s preference as she has been the super fan of sauvignon blanc for long.

Appertizer: Carmen Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2009
IWC 2011: Bronze Medal
Caviar, Scallop, Carpaccio with Avocado Paste

Caviar, scallop and avocado itself initiates the harmony within itself. The massive structure of avocado balances with the freshness of scallop. Hint of caviar is highlighting the spice of the dish. If that is the case, chardonnay should not be a light wine anymore, as avocado and caviar are strong enough to turn the wine to steel. This is the consequence of blindly following the rule of white light wine with seafood. Chardonnay is heavier than chardonnay and creates slight acidity to the dish. Failed.

Carmen Gran Reservca Merlot 2009
IWC 2011L Bronze Medal
Pan-fried Goose Liver with Honey Apple

Over-pan-fried fois gras (it’s more like deep-fry fois gras) would not create the melting texture when pairing with merlot. Merlot itself is of a 3-star quality, drinking it alone or with apple still taste mid-long length. Balanced tannin and truffle smell. Rate it 2nd best of the night. If fois gras is nicely done, it must be one of the best marriage for the night.

White Asparagus Cream Soup with Salmon Role

Soup is gorgeous, smooth cream with essence of asparagus. Salmon Role is the key, it serves both decoration and highlights to the dish. It also provides the elegance to the soup. Better serve hot. The only weird thought is that the waiters/ waitresses should not serve the red wine of main dish earlier, which have created confusion to customers that the wine goes with the soup (that happens).

Carmen Wine Makers Reserve Red 2007
Baked Lamb Chop with Garlic and Pestro
Grilled AUstalian M6 Sirloin Steak with mushroom sauce

My most impressive one is the Carmen Wine Makers Reserve Red 2007. The complicity of reserve red, licorice, cigar and slight red fruit flavour melt the lamb and beer further. This creates another tender texture and unique flavour to your mouth than its own. Don’t consider this can be done by mixing my lemon tea with my sandwich, which only creates the muddiness.

I have to say both lamb chop and sirloin steak are skilfully managed, especially on the % of readiness. It is always “unforgivable” whenever they ask well done or medium and the outcome never matches. Here, it is well controlled and of high quality meat. Only sad thing is the lamb chop came 20 mins later than the steak so we can’t enjoy the meal at the same time. (yes, absurd customer like me pinpoint on this as I want to share steak with my dad).

Carmen Gold Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Cheese Platter (Camembert, Blue Cheese, Garlic Cheese)
Pear soaked in merlot.
High quality of pear and berries, I assume baby pears and huge raspberries are of high cost than common desserts. Very thoughtful.

Cheese could be better in terms of marriage choice. Garlic cheese dominates the whole palate that red wine cannot be tasted well at the end.

Tea & Coffee

Arha, nobody emphasize on the coffee/ tea session, mostly because they are wasted (lol), while my family treasure the most as coffee is often the way to end a good meal. We were surprised by the steamed cream as no single restaurants in Hong Kong apart from those Michelin or starred hotels are willing to use cream, even steamed cream for coffee. It add a bit points to the dinner. Just be fair, that’s to the restaurant, not the wine dinner organizer.

I appreciate the effort of the chef than the wine dinner organizer. The organizer only has talked about the background of first wine and the mic was shut for the night. He even got drunk himself in the middle of it. If the pairing has been done better, I believe we will have consume some cases.


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