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Scores in the PinotFile

Robert Parker Jr.'s 100-point wine scoring system, which became popular in 1983 and adopted by the Wine Spectator in 1985, has been a homing beacon for consumers seeking to buy good wine. Currently, every major United States-based wine critic, magazine and internet wine review site uses the 100-point rating scale. There are many misgivings about the 100-point system, one of which is that there is no measurable difference in say, a rating of 89, versus 90.

In reality, scoring a wine only matters to the person doing the scoring since we all have different tastes. That said, the wine drinking public has come to rely on scores in choosing wines of quality and have become too dependent on others to tell them what they should like. Consumers often pay little attention to the description of the wine, focusing directly on the wine's score.

The PinotFile did not use a numerical scoring system for the first 10 years. Short, relevant tasting descriptions were featured instead, intended to guide the reader to styles of Pinot Noir he or she might enjoy. The reader was encouraged to focus more on producers than specific wines.

I have enlisted the valuable services of the Pinot Geek. The Pinot Geek Icon (pictured) represents a passionate pinotphile using my oldest son, Garrick, as the model. He has agreed to allow me to use his image to signify a Pinot Noir that is truly extraordinary. Only the most complete and transcendent Pinot Noirs will be so designated.

The Pinot Geek made his debut in Volume 7, Issue #1 of the PinotFile

The Pinot Value Icon signifies a Pinot Noir that represents an exceptional price/quality ratio. Generally this will be an inexpensive Pinot Noir (often under $35) that offers the drinker varietal correctness as well as appealing aromatics, flavors and enough complexity to signify a bargain at the wine's retail price. These wines often make very good daily drinkers.

The Pinot Value Icon made its debut in Volume 7, Issue #5 of the PinotFile

Occasionally, both the Pinot Geek Icon and Pinot Value Icon will be awarded to a Pinot Noir that represents both an extraordinary drinking experience and a very good value.

Beginning with Volume 9, Issue #28, the 100 point scoring system was inaugurated. Previously, at the end of each tasting note on wines that do not receive the Pinot Geek Icon, a qualitative assessment was given which included the categories of Very Good, Good, Decent and Unsatisfactory. Very Good indicated a distinctive and well-crafted wine. Good signified a wine that was solid. Decent denoted those wines that were undistinguished, but very drinkable. Unsatisfactory signified a wine that was flawed or that I would not recommend. Starting with Volume 9, Issue #28, the qualitative assessment was replaced by numerical scores.

The numerical scoring guidelines are as follows: Extraordinary 94-100 (Pinot Geek Icon), Outstanding 90-93, Very Good 86-89, and Decent 75-79. Scores are not published for wines that are unsatisfactory or score less than 75 points since I cannot recommend them. Occasionally, a range of numerical scores will be given.

Beginning with Volume 8, Issue #15, I began to review Chardonnay using the same rating system as for Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay icons include the Golden Geek Icon and Chardonnay Value Glass Icon, counterparts to the Pinot Noir icons.

You can read about all of these wines on our Notable Pinots page.

    The Prince