How best to rate SA wine
By Christian Eedes, 23 December 2019
Michael Fridjhon of WineWizard.co.za provides a provocative analysis of the latest Platter’s, particularly concerning the significance of the guide’s ultimate accolade, the 5-Star rating. He writes:
“A quick look through the list of wines the Guide has now given its top accolade to shows a strong bias towards small batch artisanal selections…”
“My impression this year is that the end result reflects an excessive swing away from styles – and wineries – whose best wines are no less impressive but which are produced in larger-than-ultra-boutique quantities.”
Fridjhon makes the point that the guide judges far more wines than any other ratings agency and inevitably many of the wines presented to the guide are rarely submitted elsewhere. For various reasons, an over-eagerness has arisen among the tasters to reward the “small-batch [and] geeky”.
It’s not clear to Fridjhon how to rectify matters other than all parties concerned making a collective effort to see the guide’s findings in less absolute terms.
Doing good by all sectors of the industry when it comes to ratings is, of course, something that constantly occupies our minds here at winemag.co.za. We were at one point going to limit ratings on the site only to those wines for which producers had paid an entry fee (something that Fridjhon makes reference to in his article) but after an overwhelming reader response, we have stepped back from this decision.
To be completely clear, we will continue with our hybrid model combining the outcome of sighted tastings conducted by me as editor on an ad hoc basis with the more formal findings that were generated by a three-person panel tasting blind.
The advantage of this model is that it’s flexible. Different sorts of producers need ratings for different reasons – a start-up needs a big score to put it on the map whereas an established, large-scale producer is often less concerned about the actual score and simply wants to be seen at the top of the quality stakes when measured against peers on a regular basis.
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