We enjoyed a conversation with the family about a part of their mission: “To capture terroir in its most raw form and to preserve the integrity of the wine world by rebelling against the 100 point Rating system.”
The proprietress of this winery is from the Champagne region of France, she, along with her husband, have created their family estate with a definite french influence, which is part of the origination of the “no rating” philosophy.
Have you ever found yourself at a dinner or wine tasting where everyone is ooohing and awwing over the wine (s) being served including impressive numbers about the ratings, the exclusivity, the cost, etc. Then, when you take an anticipated sip of the nectar you end up thinking “hmmmmmm??“and wondering what all of the who-haw is about? The point that the Hedges family is making is that wine, like food, is a very personal taste. Who says that the professional wine tasters of the world share your palate preferences??
Their son, Christophe (who runs sales and marketing for the company) emphasizes the point “Wine is too personal of a product to generalize under the umbrella of scores. A numerical unit cannot possibly describe a pleasure or displeasure unit”.
He goes on to point out that the rating system can ruin a perfectly good winery “Scores have destroyed terroir, and increased pricing for everyone.”
Chef Bertrand de Boutray has also questioned the reliabilty of the rating system lately in his newsletter Bertrand Chez Vous. Here he describes a wine tasting where the exact same wine was in two differently labeled bottles “they served a panel of 57 wine experts two identical midrange Bordeaux wines, one in an expensive Grand Cru bottle and the other in a bottle of cheap table wine. Guess what, these “experts” could not find adjectives good enough to compliment the wine in the Grand Cru bottle but for the “cheap bottle”, they were more critical, using words like “unbalanced, flat, etc.” The result of this study showed they all preferred the Grand Cru bottle although the wine in the cheap bottle was identical.”
I think moods, atmosphere and company also affect ones appreciation of wines. Bertrand says “Others will tell you that French or Italian wines taste better in France and Italy. I tend to agree with this idea simply because when travelling abroad we have a tendency to be more relaxed and more receptive of the good things of life”
Professional taster can also be influenced by circumstances. This was confirmed in Bertrands’ research for his article “They agreed that wine ratings are influenced by uncontrolled factors such as the time of the day, the number of hours since the taster last ate, the number of wines to taste, the mood and many other factors. Very often wine critics taste too many wines in too short of a time.”
Like the Hedges family he takes the more french attitude towards wine “I wish we could treat wines as a simple beverage while keeping in mind that what you have in the bottle is made from grapes and is the embodiment of providing memorable times, intense feelings, great pleasure, love, passion and unfathomable emotions – wine – a great pleasure of life.”
I must say I concur. One of my most memorable wine experiences was finding a well chilled bottle of rosé wine at a roadside bakery/rotisserie/produce stand in Raumatulle, France. We had arrived the night before, and suddenly I found myself surrounded by french people in espadrilles, buying their picnics to take to the plage (beach) that day. The labels were falling off the bottles (from being in an icy bath for so long), but when I served it for lunch that day our entire party fell in love with the local rosé and were ready to enjoy all that the south of france had to offer.
Now, when in the south of france, or anywhere (many of the french rosés can now be found in the states) I always enjoy the crisp light flavors of a rosé, even while bottles of trop cher champagne are readily accessible. Many of the rosés come from small producers, so the labels may not be familiar. When choosing a rosé, I usually look at the color of the beverage — I’ve found the lighter, coral colored wines are crisper, lighter and less sweet than the the deeper, rosier colored wines.
What are your favorite wines/ wine experiences and how do you choose what you drink? To leave a comment click on the word “comment” below. We’d love to hear from you.
A Votre Sante!