The scores on the doors

Upon opening the latest edition of Decanter wine magazine and I was delighted to find a few of our wines featuring in their awards section.

There I was, sat at the kitchen island, ready to tuck into my steak and mushrooms accompanied by a glass of the delicious La Capilla Vendimia Seleccionada. When I found that the very wine I was about to enjoy had been awarded a Gold Medal at the Decanter Wine Awards 2023 – scoring a heady 96 points… Talk about art imitating life!

There was also a write up of our Escorihuela Gascon, Organic Vineyard Malbec, from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina in the ’20 Great Malbec Buys’ Section – scoring 95 points.

But what does it all mean? Do points really make prizes or is this some wine marketing ploy?

Before we delve into the details, there is no doubting the influence of wine scores on sales of wine.

For those in the know, the name of wine critic Robert Parker – and his associated wine scoring system – has influenced the success of many wines, especially Bordeaux, for decades.

When he first began his Wine Advocate newsletter in 1978 little did he know that his declaration of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage as ‘superb’ – going against the opinions of many other critics – cementing Parker’s opinion as the one to look out for, and causing the price of that vintage to climb by a considerable amount.

His 100-point system has been quoted by many wine producers as a watermark for their pricing structure, with 100-point wines like Screaming Eagle 1997, Penfolds Grange 2008 or L’Ermita 2013 being elevated to cult status, with prices to match.

He has since retired and the industry and consumers continue to look for advice as to which wines to choose, whether at a wine merchant or a restaurant.

I wrote a weekly wine column in several Welsh newspapers for 23 years trying to guide my readers to an enjoyable glass or three and in the process, met some hugely knowledgeable people.

Some of which were on the judging board of the Decanter Wine Awards… see what I did there?

The good thing about the awards is the wines have been judged by several different palates, with great knowledge of their specialist region.

That has to help, right?

Having been a Great Taste Awards judge for several years and helped judge the Welsh Wine Awards in 2016, I can confirm that these awards follow a rigorous process, with everything blind tasted by many judges giving a balanced opinion on the differing styles and products.

So, in conclusion, with the oceans of wine available to us, getting a little help from our friends to pore over thousands of different styles has got to be a good.

Or you could just try loads of wines and make your own mind up.

But you may have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince!


Neil Cammies

Former columnist for the Western Mail and is now working for Fine Wines Direct UK. Hosting tastings, building client relationships, and writing about his experiences in the wine trade.


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