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Wine Rating Systems

Let’s take a moment to go over the various wine rating systems that exist and break them down. Knowing the rating systems can help you be a more educated buying adding bottles to your collection that will increase in value long term.

glass rating


Three point scales include the French wine bible, Le Guide Hachette, which uses stars. The Italian equivalent, Gambero Rosso, uses wine glasses.


Le Guide Hachette:

*** = Exceptional wine

** = Remarkable wine

* = Very well-made wine

Mention with 0 stars = Well-made wine

Gambero Rosso Italian Wines:

3+ = Aware Winning Wine Selected by the Editor

3 = Excellent wine in its category

2 = Very good to excellent it its category

1 = Above average to good in its category

Start Scale


The 5 star decanter system also exists, this rating system goes as follows:



***** – Outstanding quality, virtually perfect example

**** – Highly recommended

*** – Recommended

** – Quite good

* – Acceptable

20 point


The 20 point scale system is a more traditional made popular in the mid 1980’s by Master of Wine Jancis  Robinson.



20 Point Scale

20 – Truly exceptional

19 – A humdinger

18 – A cut above superior

17 – Superior

16 – Distinguished

15 – Average

14 – Deadly dull

13 – Borderline faulty or unbalanced

12 – Faulty or unbalanced

100 point systemThe 100 point system is probably the most well known of the wine rating systems, this system was popularized by Robert Parker in the early 1980’s. Several publications have embraced the 100 point system including Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, it is my personal system of preference. Every wine in this system is automatically given 50 points, incremental points are given for the following:


(0-5) – Color and appearance

(0-15) – Aroma

(0-20) – Flavor and finish

(0-10) – Overall quality

All of these systems mentioned can render deeper analysis individually, these are all established guidelines upon which to utilize when selecting your wines. It is important to note that these are just scores, great wines are often accompanied by a descriptive analysis, these are equally if not more important than any score. The analysis that a wine critic offers in accompaniment with a score offers greater insight into a specific bottle of wine. For example, qualities of harvests are sometimes offered, flavors are described, comparative notes to previous years/s vintages and other comparable wines can be stated and aging proximity are often provided, these are all more important that any score in my opinion. Alla Salute!




Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012

So much of our time has been spent reviewing wines across the continent of Europe as well as the United States. South American wines have not been a consistent topic and this wine is one that forces this post. The Valle Andino Reserva Syrah 2012 from Chile is really a fantastic wine and gives exceptional value to any consumer looking for a great bottle for any occasion. The Valle Andino Syrah is an extra dry red from the Rapel Valley in Chile, it comes in at 14.5% alcohol and is a Shiraz/Syrah grape varietal blend. At a price of approximately $15 per bottle this red wine will impress your guests with even the most refined of pallets. The color of the Valle Andino Syrah is deep purple, luscious ripe black fruits prevail with smoke and incense, making the finish well balanced and sweet, with adequate length. Now is the time to drink the Valle Andino, it is more than approachable and does not require any additional holding time. The Valle Andino Syrah is best paired with grilled red meat, grilled chorizo sausages, even try with barbequed lamb skewers or pork loins. We opened ours with great friends and paired it with an amazing home cooked fideua with noodles, squid, shrimp, scallops, clams and octopus, and the Valle paired beautifully, it is very versatile (recipe link below). This wine was rated a 90 score by The Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012 typifies the reputation that Chile is earning by providing the world with premium Syrah’s at a more than affordable price, a true gem and worth stocking up on.  Alla Salute!

fideua 02


Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012

Origin: Rapel Valley, Chile

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Full Bodied

Grape Shiraz/Syrah Blend

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 14.5%

Price: $13-$17

Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009

The Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009 is yet another fabulous offering by Marchesi de Frescobaldi and is comprised of 100% Sangiovese grape. This Brunello is full bodied and firm with a ruby red color and is accompanied by notes of violets and blackberries, tobacco and spicy black pepper also prevail. The finish is intense and has staying power on your palate yet the tannin texture is balanced and the finish is soft and slightly sweet, overall the Castelgiocondo is very pleasurable to drink. The 2009 Castelgiocondo Brunello can age but should not be held for an excessive period of time, 2014-2021 would be the optimal drinking window for this bottle that is very approachable now. Late in the growing season of 2009 in Montalcino, winemakers were caught off guard by a sudden spike in temperature, this resulted in a softer structure from this vintage, which is required for long-term aging. Pair this Brunello with grilled steak, roasted lamb or even a rabbit ragu served over pappardelle pasta. We paired our 2009 Castelgiocondo Brunello with our homemade lasagna and it was a perfect match. Vinous/Antonio Galloni scored this bottle a 91. Alla Salute!

Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009
Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009



Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009

Origin: Tuscany, Italy

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Full Bodied and Firm

Grape Variety: Sangiovese

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 13%

Price: $45-$55

Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Colledila Chianti Classico 2010

The Barone Ricasoli Colledila Chianti Classico 2010 is a beautiful wine that is drinking extremely well now, this bottle could be stored in order for it to continue to develop, but I would not do so past 2022. This Italian red wine is made of the Sangiovese grape variety, which is synonymous with many of the red wines produced in Tuscany. The Colledila is ruby red in color and has floral aromas as well as the aromas of dark cherries and mushrooms. This is a full bodied wine with sweet tannins, the finish of ripe fruit is dominant yet it remains clean and elegant, the 2010 Colledila Chianti Classico is very well structured. The Colledila is what has to be considered by most a more expensive Chianti and has a bottle price of $40-$50, with this in mind, it also must be stated that there is considerable value here, to drink now or hold for a few more years. We paired this bottle, actually four of them, with a full house of family over on a Saturday night and our homemade cioppino, it was the Colledila that stole the show!  James Suckling scored the Castello di Brolio Colledila Chianti Classico 201o a score of 93 and I completely agree, a very nice Italian Chianti that is well balanced and a privilege to drink. Alla Salute!

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2010

It has been some time since a post on a white wine has seen the blog, red is predominantly more favored in our household. Why not feature a bottle of white wine that hails from Pessac-Leognan, a wine growing area in the northern part of the Graves region of Bordeaux! This bottle was purchased for the holiday season and recently consumed, and what a special treat it was! The Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2010 has a mild yet intense flavor, the citrus is very evident as the lemon rind and orange marmalade hit your palate, yet at the same time honey and a subtle smoke prevail.  The colour of the Château Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2010 is different than an every day off the shelf white wine, this has a more pale, gold and honey coloured complextion. The finish is crisp and noticeable but not intense, this really is a spectacular medium bodied extra dry white wine. This wine has an optimal drinking window of 2016-2030, there was a fine honeycomb like piece of sediment noticeable at the bottom of the bottle that you could only think would blossom into even more intense flavors long term, should one decide to lay this bottle down and give it time. This wine pairs well with firm, aged cheese and herbed cheese, we served ours with a homemade goat cheese and prosciutto stuffed chicken breasts and it was delightful. This wine was scored a 92 in February of 2013 by, this score is spot on, time would take it up a point, or possibly two, depending on the time frame it is consumed. Is there anything that Haut-Brion does wrong in the world of wine? The Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2010 really is a spectacular white wine and was a privilege to consume. Alla Salute!