I was cautioned twice by the head of my jury on our first group of wines — Muscadets-Sèvre et Maine — that my ratings were too high…I don’t care what he said: I like Muscadet, and I wasn’t giving them scores in the 90s anyway (I checked). A little later that same day he told me my ratings on some red wines that I hated were very low; he didn’t say “too low,” but he said, “That is your style.” Then I noticed that other judges on my panel, who were keeping track, were scoring EVERY wine between 81 and 89 points; an even narrower range than Wine Spectator. I think this is a natural consequence of thinking holistically about a rating, instead of about its components.
A long time ago I noticed an interesting phenomenon. When scoring wine using a scale like the 20-point Davis system, the wines I like best are not necessarily the wines that score highest. This is a natural outcome of tasting methodically — considering wine as a set of components rather than holistically. Lose a half point in color or clarity and another point in the amorphous “quality” category and you’ve got a second-tier wine on the scorecard that nonetheless may be a rock star in the drinking.
So here’s my question: is this a good or bad thing? Is it a condition of objectivity, or an expression of the artificiality of wine scoring. Or, perhaps, I’m just an inconsistent taster. Do other people have this same experience?
UPDATE: From comments, Steve from Winthropology links to his earlier contemplation of the soul of wine. It’s worth a read, as are the comments below.