The Spectator, Burgundy & Statistics

A couple posts ago I speculated about wine ratings, the Wine Spectator and Pinot Noir. If you take a look at it you’ll see that according to the Wine Spectator, Pinot Noirs from some appellations score more in the 90 point or above range than others.

Since posting that I’ve received a number of emails speculating on why burgundies from the 1998 to 2002 vintages had so many more wines that got 79 points or less than any other region. I suspected it was vintage related. I seem to have been correct.

If you look at five different Burgundy vintages, 1987 to 1991 for example, you find the following:

   1608 Wines Reviewed 32% with 90 or Above scores 11% with 79 or below scores.

This is significantly better than the 20% with 90+ scores and 22% with 79 points or less scores I got looking at the 1998 to 2002 vintages. The reason is, simply, that there were better vintages inside 1987-1991 than in 1998-2002. Using averages, the Wine Spectator’s average vintage rank for 1998 -2002 (taking into account the range they give for the 2001 and 2002 vintages) is 87.2 points. The average rank of the 1987-1991 vintages is 89.8.

Basically, The vintages I used to compare Wine Spectator scores in my earlier posting skewed things against Burgundy.

If you look at the Spectator’s ratings for Burgundies for many more vintages, you get something interesting.  From the 1987 to 2002 Burgundy vintages, 23% of the wines rated were given 90 points or more while 20% were given 79 points or less.

But just for fun, what happens if you look at  Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs from this same 1987-2000 period. 23% get 90 point or more and only 4% get 79 points or less. 
What about Oregon?
In the 1987 to 2002 vintages, the Wine Spectator gives 23% of Oregon wines 90 points or above and 10% 79 points or less.

Bottom line, according to the Wine Spectator’s palates modern Red Burgundies "miss the mark" far more often than most other Pinot appellations.

  But still, this comparison really isn’t fair is it. I mean, I am looking at Burgundy as a whole, rather than looking at it appellation by appellation the way I did with California’s appellations.

  I the future I want to look at more comparisons of this type, perhaps just for kicks and giggles. And perhaps by the time I’m finished I’ll figure out if my statistics are telling stories about the Wine Spectator or the wines under consideration.

Posted In: Rating Wine


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