...by Tom Archer
My scoring system is designed to compare wines against their peers-
So a VP is judged against all other VP's, a Colheita against all other Colheitas - etc.
The first score relates to the ability of the wine to give immediate gratification, the second is your perception of how good it will be when fully mature, or in the case of a mature wine, where it will be in ten years time.
If you feel that the wine you're tasting is in the top 5% of all the wines you've known, then it gets a 10, if it's in the bottom 5%, it gets a zero.
Each of the other scores gets a 10% share.
In practical terms, start by considering whether the wine is better or worse than the median. If it's neither, score 5.
Then consider whether the wine is in the top quartile (if it's good) or bottom quartile (if it's poor).
A wine that is better than the median, but not in the top quartile, will score either 6 or 7. A wine that is worse than the median but not in the bottom quartile, will score 3 or 4.
A wine that is in the top quartile, but not decisively so, will score an 8, a better wine will score 9 or 10, but remember that only one bottle in 20 should be good enough for a 10 score.
The same happens in reverse at the bottom end of the scale. An uninspiring, but drinkable wine will normally rank a 2, a poor wine a 1.
Only one bottle in 20 should rank a zero - for VP, this is about the proportion that gets dumped in the cooking or down the sink.
If a bottle is so badly corked that you have to abandon it, don't venture a score. If you suspect a poor bottle, put your score in parentheses ().
Over time, an average of all your scores should come to 5. A slightly higher average is forgivable if you focus on the best and ignore the rest, and a lower average is equally forgivable if you are a budget drinker.
This gives you your first score. You then have to consider where it's going.
Even top wines may earn quite a low first score when they are young, raw, immature and closed down, but it is often possible to get a feel for where they are going.
So for a 2003 VP, a score of 3-9 would not be exceptional. A typical 1991 VP, which have generally got a little way to go, might rank a 5-6 or 6-7.
When wines are mature and set fair on a plateau, the first and second scores are the same, so a 1983 VP might rank a 7-7 or 8-8.
When wines are mature, but beginning to run out of steam, a point off for the second score is in order - most 1980 VP's fall into this camp.
Where an old wine is beginning to fall apart, and seems to have very little future, two points off for the second score is appropriate - some of the 1960 VP's are in this category.
Anything to do with Port.
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