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Anatomy of a 100 point wine

100pt Wine

In school, a grade of 100 pts, or A+, meant I structured an essay correctly. I had a good intro, well defined thesis, well structured body with supporting points, and finally, a conclusion that tied it all together in a way that made sense and left the reader with very few questions. Although this was the exception and not the rule, I did occasionally receive an A+ for an essay, but more often it was for a portrait I drew in my art class. During lunch, those of us with a bit of parental cash would walk through the cafeteria line joking how the A+ pizza washed down with fine examples of vintage sodas, or pops – depending on your region! Ah, the life!

The simplicity of this example amazes me. Having taught for awhile at the high school level, I know now that many of those grades that I fought so hard for were the result of simple formulas that over worked teachers used to make their jobs easier. While at lunch, we mocked those same teachers as we enjoyed our slabs of pseudo cheese covered bread crusts, swearing that they were out to get us. In reality, they often were too tired to care.

To imagine that this system was the impetus for today’s 100pt wine scale is at times hard to believe. It is the system we either love or we loath depending on where our wine of choice falls on the rating scale. Here is a general guide to interpreting the numerical ratings, as taken from Robert Parker’s own explanation:

90-100 is equivalent to an A and is given only for an outstanding or special effort. Wines in this category are the very best produced of their type. There is a big difference between a 90 and 99, but both are top marks. As you will note through the text, there are few wines that actually make it into this top category because there are not many great wines.

80-89 is equivalent to a B in school and such a wine, particularly in the 85-89 range, is very, very good; many of the wines that fall into this range often are great values as well. I have many of these wines in my personal collection.

70-79 represents a C, or average mark, but obviously 79 is a much more desirable score than 70. Wines that receive scores between 75 and 79 are generally pleasant, straightforward wines that lack complexity, character, or depth. If inexpensive, they may be ideal for uncritical quaffing.

Below 70 is a D or F, depending on where you went to school. For wine, it is a sign of an imbalanced, flawed, or terribly dull or diluted product that will be of little interest to the discriminating consumer.

Notice his constant referral to school as a point of reference for understanding his scores.

In truth, I love the 100pt scale. It gives people a quick understanding of what a wine’s overall quality is, or of what a wine should be. When done consistently, and with a set standard in mind, a person can learn to follow an individual’s set of scores in order to calibrate their palate accordingly. My biggest issue, however, is with the people who use the scale, and the rules they apply to it.

Robert Parker
is probably the first person we think of when we see this scale or try to define it. For him, wine must be big, thick, rich, and ready to age. He has given some, though I believe few, ratings to whites, and only when those wines presented a potential for aging more than 5,10 or 15 years. I may be wrong (feel free to offer me an example), but I don’t believe a wine has ever been given a 100 pt rating followed by a note saying, drink now.

There are many people who employ this scoring method, but only those hardcore wine geeks out there seem to know which professionals rate what wines, in which way, and how that calibrates to their own palate. We banter back and forth about wines that received wildly differing scores across wine journals arguing whether it was due to a bad bottle or stylistic preferences on the part of the taster. All the while trying to decipher if we will like the wine as much as they seemed to. In reality, we should create our own standards for wines we taste, so that when we rate wine, we do it for no other person than ourselves. We should make up our own minds.

Thus, I come to the point of my post. Today, I tasted perfection. For the first time on this blog, I want to give out a 100pt rating. You heard me, 100 POINTS, the perfect wine. But first, I must tell you what a perfect wine is to me.

  1. It is a wine that tastes good. If complex, it is truly complex. If simple, then the purity of flavors are such that my mind gets lost in the elegance and singularity of it, making me return to the glass again and again till the night fades away.
  2. It must stand above others in its style. If it’s rich Priorat, it’s richer than the richest Clos Mogador and darker than the inkiest inkwell. If it’s Cava, the bubbles must be finer than Tinker Bells pixie dust and more ethereal than an angel’s daydream.
  3. It must be appropriately priced. It may be expensive, it may be cheap, but it needs to make sense. If I’m dining at a five star hotel and eating food made by a chef with Michelin stars, then I expect to and am willing to pay for more, rich foods often need rich wines. But if I need something to soothe my backache after a long day of work, it can’t make me fear breaking the bank. Some wine is meant to be paired with Foie Gras, while some is meant to be quaffed with pizza; therefore, price should reflect it’s consumption environment.
  4. It must be pleasurable. When I open this wine, I choose to for many different reasons, one of the most important being its ability to make me smile. Maybe the wine is from a long lost vintage; and when opened, the wine fills the room not only with aroma, but with history, leading to a night filled with stories told among old friends who become new again or with new friends who remain forever. While on the other hand, another 100pt wine it might still taste of its recent fermentation – alive with a spirit and vigor having just left the tank, pure of fruit, frizzante with life and full of fun. This is the wine I open on the roof with friends where conversation is king and laughter is required. No other wine would do. No other wine would win any points in my book.

A wine that tastes good, is correct for its style, comfortable in its price range and leaves me with a smile. A wine like that is a 100 point wine. For me this is perfection!

So to my 100 point wine for today:

Name: Dolce Prima
Variety: Moscatel
Alcohol: 5%
Price: 2euros50

Sweet, slightly fizzy, with a purity of fruit I rarely see. Very reminiscent of a well made Moscato d’Asti, but more alive! The slight fizz, only makes it more easy to drink, while the low alcohol assures that you can continue to sip it no matter how long the conversation lasts. Light acidity, helps to balance the residual sugar that really is no more sweet than a well ripened peach, of which it shares flavors with. 100pts, and HIGHLY recommended if you come to Spain. It’s as far as I can tell only available at Mercadona a local chain grocery store.

I’m not kidding either. This is what wine should be. Or at least tonight it was. Who knows about tomorrow.

What is your 100pt wine?

Cheers,

Ryan Opaz

  • RichardA

    I recently read an interview with Robert Parker (<a href="http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/25/wine_f…”><a href="http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/…where ” target=”_blank”>http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/25/wine_f…where he said: "I really think probably the only difference between a 96-, 97-, 98-, 99-, and 100-point wine is really the emotion of the moment." This really resonated with me as I do believe the circumstances surrounding when, where and with who you drink a wine have a significant impact on one's feelings about a wine. In an ideal situation, one is more likely to rate a wine higher than in less ideal cirucmstances. Imagine drinking a wine on the night you get engaged and comparing it to drinking the same wine with fast food on the day you lost your job. Your ratings would likely differ. Special wines are best served at special occasions, to derive the full effect from them. They should not be wasted on lesser occasions. For me, the 1998 Remeriz de Ganuza Riserva was a 100 point wine. It might not be the best Rioja out there, but all the other factors worked together to make it perfect. It was my first higher end Spanish wine. I received it for my birthday and drank it at a special birthday dinner. It was simply a magical bottle of wine! I still love their wines very much. I might not rate them as 100 on a normal day, but in a special situation they do have the power to transcend. I would also rate the 2002 Marquis Philips Integrity, an Australian Shiraz, as a 100 point wine. Parker actually rated that wine a 99. It is certainly a powerful wine.

  • RichardA

    I recently read an interview with Robert Parker (<a href="http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/25/wine_f…”><a href="http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/…where ” target=”_blank”>http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/25/wine_f…where he said: "I really think probably the only difference between a 96-, 97-, 98-, 99-, and 100-point wine is really the emotion of the moment." This really resonated with me as I do believe the circumstances surrounding when, where and with who you drink a wine have a significant impact on one's feelings about a wine. In an ideal situation, one is more likely to rate a wine higher than in less ideal cirucmstances. Imagine drinking a wine on the night you get engaged and comparing it to drinking the same wine with fast food on the day you lost your job. Your ratings would likely differ. Special wines are best served at special occasions, to derive the full effect from them. They should not be wasted on lesser occasions. For me, the 1998 Remeriz de Ganuza Riserva was a 100 point wine. It might not be the best Rioja out there, but all the other factors worked together to make it perfect. It was my first higher end Spanish wine. I received it for my birthday and drank it at a special birthday dinner. It was simply a magical bottle of wine! I still love their wines very much. I might not rate them as 100 on a normal day, but in a special situation they do have the power to transcend. I would also rate the 2002 Marquis Philips Integrity, an Australian Shiraz, as a 100 point wine. Parker actually rated that wine a 99. It is certainly a powerful wine.

  • RichardA

    I recently read an interview with Robert Parker (<a href="http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/25/wine_f…”><a href="http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/…where ” target=”_blank”>http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/25/wine_f…where he said: "I really think probably the only difference between a 96-, 97-, 98-, 99-, and 100-point wine is really the emotion of the moment." This really resonated with me as I do believe the circumstances surrounding when, where and with who you drink a wine have a significant impact on one's feelings about a wine. In an ideal situation, one is more likely to rate a wine higher than in less ideal cirucmstances. Imagine drinking a wine on the night you get engaged and comparing it to drinking the same wine with fast food on the day you lost your job. Your ratings would likely differ. Special wines are best served at special occasions, to derive the full effect from them. They should not be wasted on lesser occasions. For me, the 1998 Remeriz de Ganuza Riserva was a 100 point wine. It might not be the best Rioja out there, but all the other factors worked together to make it perfect. It was my first higher end Spanish wine. I received it for my birthday and drank it at a special birthday dinner. It was simply a magical bottle of wine! I still love their wines very much. I might not rate them as 100 on a normal day, but in a special situation they do have the power to transcend. I would also rate the 2002 Marquis Philips Integrity, an Australian Shiraz, as a 100 point wine. Parker actually rated that wine a 99. It is certainly a powerful wine.

  • http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com/ RichardA

    I recently read an interview with Robert Parker (http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/25/wine_festival_lone_wolf/) where he said: “I really think probably the only difference between a 96-, 97-, 98-, 99-, and 100-point wine is really the emotion of the moment.”

    This really resonated with me as I do believe the circumstances surrounding when, where and with who you drink a wine have a significant impact on one’s feelings about a wine. In an ideal situation, one is more likely to rate a wine higher than in less ideal cirucmstances. Imagine drinking a wine on the night you get engaged and comparing it to drinking the same wine with fast food on the day you lost your job. Your ratings would likely differ. Special wines are best served at special occasions, to derive the full effect from them. They should not be wasted on lesser occasions.

    For me, the 1998 Remeriz de Ganuza Riserva was a 100 point wine. It might not be the best Rioja out there, but all the other factors worked together to make it perfect. It was my first higher end Spanish wine. I received it for my birthday and drank it at a special birthday dinner. It was simply a magical bottle of wine! I still love their wines very much. I might not rate them as 100 on a normal day, but in a special situation they do have the power to transcend.

    I would also rate the 2002 Marquis Philips Integrity, an Australian Shiraz, as a 100 point wine. Parker actually rated that wine a 99. It is certainly a powerful wine.

  • Ryan

    Very true Richard, but I really want to make it clear, this is a 100pt wine independent of "situation". It is a perfect essay. This wine does all that it is supposed to do and is perfect for it's category. Wine's should be reviewed in their own peer groups and this wine is a 100pt Moscatel young wine. Situation does nothing to change that. A wine need not be powerful to gain 100pts. To be able to judge anything there has to be a goal or idea of perfection. In my opinion this means that all wines deserve to have a benchmark that is the best they can be.

  • http://www.catavino.net Ryan

    Very true Richard, but I really want to make it clear, this is a 100pt wine independent of “situation”. It is a perfect essay. This wine does all that it is supposed to do and is perfect for it’s category.

    Wine’s should be reviewed in their own peer groups and this wine is a 100pt Moscatel young wine. Situation does nothing to change that.

    A wine need not be powerful to gain 100pts. To be able to judge anything there has to be a goal or idea of perfection. In my opinion this means that all wines deserve to have a benchmark that is the best they can be.

  • bbennett

    Richard's comment about special wines made me think about Maya's comment to Miles in Sideways. . . basically, the specialness of a wine itself is enough to make the circumstances of it's consumption special. As evidenced by Miles' drinking his 1961 Cheval Blanc in a Chinese restaurant, from a styrofoam cup. Granted, that is a bit extreme, but the point is well taken. Personally, I have more special wine than special occasions. So this idea resonates with me. Wine in itself is a good enough reason to have it. Just be careful who you share it with!

  • bbennett

    Richard’s comment about special wines made me think about Maya’s comment to Miles in Sideways. . . basically, the specialness of a wine itself is enough to make the circumstances of it’s consumption special. As evidenced by Miles’ drinking his 1961 Cheval Blanc in a Chinese restaurant, from a styrofoam cup. Granted, that is a bit extreme, but the point is well taken. Personally, I have more special wine than special occasions. So this idea resonates with me. Wine in itself is a good enough reason to have it. Just be careful who you share it with!

  • Penelope Gadd-Coster

    Wow, I wish more people would look at wines in their own 'light' and not what a wine critics 100pt score is. Unfortunately with so many wines out there it is hard not to look to these professionals. I love your '100 pt' score- did it please your palate and measure up to what you feel that wine should be, your own benchmark. As a winemaker and owner of a small winery these scores can sometimes be frustrating. The same wine to three different critics and the scores can have a wide range of scores. This means that wineries have to pick and choose who they send their wines to…. My greatest pleasure is to enjoy wine and see others do the same- no fancy words, or that it just got a 93 from Parker- but that it is made well, can be consumed when you want it which is usually soon after purchase, food friendly, and people friendly. Wine is for enjoyment whether that be watching the rain at home alone or with a group of your best friends over a great meal.

  • http://www.coralmustang.com Penelope Gadd-Coster

    Wow, I wish more people would look at wines in their own ‘light’ and not what a wine critics 100pt score is. Unfortunately with so many wines out there it is hard not to look to these professionals. I love your ’100 pt’ score- did it please your palate and measure up to what you feel that wine should be, your own benchmark.

    As a winemaker and owner of a small winery these scores can sometimes be frustrating. The same wine to three different critics and the scores can have a wide range of scores. This means that wineries have to pick and choose who they send their wines to….

    My greatest pleasure is to enjoy wine and see others do the same- no fancy words, or that it just got a 93 from Parker- but that it is made well, can be consumed when you want it which is usually soon after purchase, food friendly, and people friendly. Wine is for enjoyment whether that be watching the rain at home alone or with a group of your best friends over a great meal.

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  • Javier

    Yes, i’m spanish and discover this wine in Mercadona … really … was incredible.

    If you travel to Spain, or if you live in spain … don’t think, buy it and taste the perfection for only 2,5€.