Profiling Robert Parker’s 100 Point Wines
Yes, the 100 Point rating scale is not perfect.
OK, with that out of the way, I find the 100 point rating system fascinating on a number of levels. Most fascinating of all is the degree to which it effects those wines that receive very high scores. Even more fascinating is the degree to which a wine that receives the elusive 100 Point rating is helped. Much more fascinating is the degree to which a 100 Point Robert Parker rating helps a wine.
Quite simply, a 100 Point rating from Robert Parker guarantees a wine not only sells out, but sells out at an extraordinarily rapid pace. With this in mind, I thought I'd take a look at this breed of wine.
Using eRobertParker.com's Advanced Search engine, it appears that Mr. Parker has bestowed 100 Points on a total of 224 wines. This is a minuscule percentage of the total wines he has tasted. So we are talking about a select group.
ORIGIN OF 100 POINT PARKER WINES
The region has produced the most 100 Point Robert Parker wines is the Rhone Valley in France with 69 such wines. Bordeaux is second with 53 wines, followed closely by California. Interestingly Champagne has produced a total of Zero 100 Point wines. Champagne is accompanied in that distinction by Oregon, New York, Chile, New Zealand, Argentina, and Austria. See the accompanying chart for regional sources of 100 Point Parker Wines.
CURRENT MATURITY LEVEL OF 100 POINT PARKER WINES
Robert Parker gives a range of years during which a wine will be drinking at its best. Depending on how deep a wine is into this range or how far outside the range it currently falls based on its age, Mr. Parker will describe that condition with a simple word.
Of the 224 wines that have received 100 Point Scores, currently they are at this level of maturity:
No Maturity Given…….48 Wines
COLOR OF WINES
White/Dessert: 28 Wines
Red: 196 Wines
VOCABULARY ASSOCIATED WITH 100 POINT PARKER WINES
Of course no 100 Point rating is complete without a description of the wine. Parker's descriptions of 100 Point wines tends to be elaborate and complete in every way. What was interesting, however was too look at the frequency with which particular descriptive words were used in reviews of 100 Point wines.
"Rich" is the descriptive word that appears to show up most often in a wine that receives 100 Points from Robert Parker. 101 of these wines have this word in the review. This isn't a surprise and I'd be willing to bet that most reviewers would discover the word "rich" appears quite frequently in their highly reviewed wines.
The term "Intens" (as in "intense" or "Intensely") also shows up frequently to the tune of in the description of 64 100 Point wines. "Concentrate" follows with 63 wines having this word in their review. Again, this isn't too surprising. And for those who are curious, the very Parkerian term, "Unctuous" appears in reviews of thirty-four 100 Point wines.
See the accompanying chart for a fuller picture of the frequency of use of particular descriptive words.
OTHER INTERESTING TIDBITS
Oldest Wine: 1811 (d'Yquem)
Least Expensive Wine (Listed Price): $59.00—1995 Chateau La Graviere Tirecul Vendange Tardive Cuvee Madame
Most Expensive Wine (Listed Price) $57,666—1811 Chateau d'Yquem
Winery With Most Wines Rated 100: Chapoutier (13)
Wine Rated 100 Points Most Often: Guigal Cote Rotie la Mouline (9 Different Vintages)
Vintage With Most 100 Point Wines: 2007 (27 Wines)
It should be noted that I understand the meaning of the phrase "Lies, Damned lies and Statistics". Yes, statistics can lie. However, they can also tell very compelling stories. I honestly am not sure what story this set of statistics and items tells. However, this I know. As long as Mr. Parker continues to enjoy his work and continues to rate wine, his 100 Point rating will be among the most coveted third party endorsements any wine can ever receive.
Fabulous commentary. Thanks for the hard work that was required.
I’ve always thought that scoring wines in peer group guarantees that the results will steer consumers wines that do exactly the opposite of what I want a wine to do at table: integrate with flavors of food.
When a wine leaps out of a cattle-call tasting, or when we assess a numeric scale, bigger becomes better. At table, these wines fail. While I’m sure that Parker’s palate is 100% attuned and consistent to the wines he loves, the propensity for Americans to follow him blindly into ‘concentrate’ and ‘intensity’ has served to obliterate regional character in many, many wines…both Old and New World.
Maybe it’s already happened in one of the magazines and I didn’t notice it, but I’d love to see one rosé be scored 100 points. Is it possible that no one makes a *perfect* rosé? Just from your numbers it seems hard enough for a white wine to get a 100.
I will always argue for weight classes and regional divisions (the boxing theory) when it comes to wine scores. If an 1811 d’Yquem scores 100, what hope does a recently released Eiswein have?
Interesting piece. I agree that the system is not perfect, but it is probably the single most influential innovation in the wine industry, ever. As 1winedude recently described, many retailers/wholesalers will not even consider carrying a wine that is not Parker rated.
Are Parker’s (and the other big critics’) scores actually starting to become a disservice to the wine consumer? One thing that is already taking place and I would bet will increase is that regions on Parker’s “it” list wait to price their wines until he has had the chance to evaluate and rate them. If this becomes more commonplace, perhaps Parker, et al. are turning into more of a producer’s advocates rather than a consumer advocates.
Robert Parker is clearly a consumer advocate. He writes for consumer and attempts to pick out the best wines available for them. No one is required to give him any credit. No one is required to stock wines he rates high. No one is required to read the Wine Advocate. Yet, lots of folks do all these things.
If Robert Parker’s scores play a key in setting a producers price for a wine, then that only means that the producer expects demand for their wine to increase to the point where they can justify a price increase. I’d never hold it against a producer for pricing their wines relative to the market.
I don’t think Robert Parker is the only critic to have advertised a palate for rich and concentrated wines. That said, I think there is lots of “regional typicity” in wine still. I also thing there is a movement among producers to moderate their use of oak, intensity, etc. Balance seems to be creeping back into many winemakers’ lexicon that had left a few of them.
That said, LOVE Clos Pepe!!!
Actually that quote is meant to indicate that statistics provide truth, as opposed to lies and damn lies 🙂
Tom, I do agree with you, but I am starting to feel that producers are beginning to benefit (and suffer) more from the Parker influence than consumers.
Entertaining analysis; it would be interesting to compare the adjective count to those for 90-99pt reviews and 80-89 point reviews.
Of course, the 100 point wine set is the most extreme case: the highest possible Parker rating applied to wines that are generally in tiny production or inventory. It shouldn’t be taken as indicative of Parker’s influence on the wider market.
Interesting stuff. I especially liked seeing the frequency with which certain terms recur. Although you didn’t specifically call them out, I see that mineral, balance, complex, long and spic(e) show up quite often as well.
A few questions regarding your methodology: Are these wines Parker has personally scored 100 points, or do they represent the work of his entire team of tasters? Did you find any duplication and account for that (i.e., same wine scored 100 points on more than one occasion)? Did you limit your search to final, in-the-bottle scores (i.e., barrel samples scored with a range excluded)?
Thanks for the read.
Hey there Joe….
If you use the “Advanced Search” at eRobertParker and only identify “100” as the minimum number of “points” then you will have the data I worked with.
Very cool breakdown! Fred Dex, MS
Fascinating. “Hedonistic” is another word I bet appears a lot.
I’ve many times thought of doing a similar analysis of James Laube’s reviewing of California Pinot and Cabernet, in terms of the frequency of his use of “rich” “intense” “full bodied” “concentrated”, etc for the highest scoring wines. He seems to be the only one left who believes that Pinot Noir, specifically should be made that way. Thanks for your article.
Isn’t the 1811 Y’quem (and the 1847 which also got 100 pts I think) now widely believed to have been fraudulent (according to The Billionaire’s Vinegar) from the infamous Hardy Rodenstock stash? (see pg. 195 of the book)
Sign the manifesto. Let’s see what happens.
Wes identified a pet peeve of mine: folks who blindly follow Parker scores. My view is that these people are “drinking the numbers”. I’ve seen friends exult over a wine with a high Parker score when the particular bottle is clearly flawed. Sad.
Tom, not meaning to throw a monkey in the wrench, but it would be equally interesting to break this down by Parker writer.
For example, of the four Washington 100-point scores (all from one winery, btw), none was reviewed by Parker. So this also throws off the vocabulary section because I wouldn’t think each of Parker’s writers have the same style.
The thing that puzzles me is that you find all sorts of figures for 100 pts wines from Parker. I’ve seen 120, 160 and now you quote 224.
I wonder what the real figure is.
Hello! We are the distributors for Quilceda Creek of Washington State in Toronto, Canada. In looking at how many 100 point Parker scores that have been bestowed on Quilceda Creek of Washington State over the last half decade, I do not believe there are any other wineries in the world that have matched this feat. Does this make, in Parker’s view, Quilceda Creek the #1 winery in the world? Better than Romanee Conti or Chateau Petrus, etc??? An interesting question! Here are the Parker scores for Quilceda Creek going back to 2002. Eric Calladine-The Vine (Toronto, Canada)
2007 Quilceda Creek Cab- 100 points
2006 Quilceda Creek Cab- 99 points
2005 Quilceda Creek Cab- 100 points
2004 Quilceda Creek Cab- 99 points
2003 Quilceda Creek Cab- 100 points
2002 Quilceda Creek Cab- 100 points
Keep drinking Washington State!
Thanks for the post! I have always been curious myself on the 100 pt scale, so your post answered many of my questions. Great breakdown without being boring!
Bravo for those informations. We are quite lucky (not for long ?) in France to see such an unfair cotation on top Burgundy wines, so they stay, relatively, at a fair financial value.
Nice piece, but it seems a bit misleading in one way. I was initially very surprised that the term “long” came up relatively few times, while it is traditionally (Peynaud and others) one of the essential features of a great wine.
If one searches for “finish” in the Paker database, it comes up 75 times and in the vast majority of cases the 100 point wines have a finish “over 60 seconds” or something similar.
Hence adding the use of “long” and “finish” one actually finds that the length of a wine is an essential criterion for Parker to call a wine perfect… Of course, it is not as sexy a conclusion as finding that richness is his soft spot, but I believe it is more in line with reality.