The Black Magic of Wine Scores
Most colleges grade 89 points on an exam as a “B” while 90 points delivers an “A”. How does one point out of 100 make such a difference? Not only does this seem unfair but downright stupid and silly.
So what about wine scores? Does a one point difference in a wine’s rating mean that much? Of course not! Whether applying the 100 point scale favored by Robert Parker or the 20 point scale developed by UC Davis, a single point is a meaningless difference between wines. That said, a single point difference makes a big difference in the price a winery can charge for a particular wine.
Perhaps there is not much price difference between an 88 and an 89 point wine, but the price gap is much wider between an 89 point wine and a 90 pointer.
Both the 100 point and 20 point scoring systems award points for characteristics important to most wine drinkers such as flavors, color, body,and aroma. They also award points for some less obvious items such as volatile acidity, total acidity, and astringency, much less important or detectable by most wine drinkers. So are one, two, or even three point differences among wines that meaningful? Not really, especially if you consider that all scoring systems award points for overall impression, a catchall category that is by definition subjective.
Chasing scores is the worse way to pick wines but often the best way to overpay for them. When seeking to purchase wines, use point scoring as a rough guide recognizing that scoring ranges are more valuable than the absolute score. In addition, no wine evaluator can consistently score a wine the same tasting session after tasting session. Too many factors – time of day, sequence of tasting the wine and even the weather – influence the results.
Therefore, the best way to choose a wine is to taste it. If you like it, then buy it!
Barry P. Chaiken, Proprietor
Grape Vine Canopy
In viticulture, the canopy of a grapevine includes the parts of the vine visible aboveground – the trunk, cordon, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit. The canopy plays a key role in light energy capture via photosynthesis, water use as regulated by transpiration,
and microclimate of ripening grapes. Canopy management is an important aspect of viticulture due to its effect on grape yields, quality, vigor, and the prevention of grape diseases. Various viticulture problems, such as uneven grape ripening, sunburn, and frost damage, can be addressed by skillful canopy management. In addition to pruning and leaf trim, the canopy is often trained on trellis systems to guide its growth and assist in access for ongoing management and harvest.
The vine is the main part of the grapevine, extending from the root system in the ground up to the cordons, or arms, of the vine. When the grape is young the trunk is very pliable and must be supported by stakes as part of a vine training system. The height of the trunk varies depending on grape variety and the type of trellis system being used and can range from 4 inches (10 cm) to 30 feet (10 m). During winter dormancy, the trunk can be vulnerable to extreme freezing conditions and will be sometimes buried and insulated with soil to protect it.
The cordon, or “arms”, of the grapevine extend from the trunk and are the part where additional arms and eventually leaves and grape clusters extend. The cordons are usually trained along wires as part of a trellis system. This training usually fixes the cordon into a permanent position, such as horizontal extending from the trunk in opposite directions.
The terms stem, stalks and shoots are sometimes used interchangeably but viticulturalists generally make some differentiation. The stem of the
grapevine item, extending from cordon, is considered the shoot and this part is most often pruned in the process of “shoot thinning” to control grape yields. The stalk extending out to hold the grape cluster is known as the bunchstem while the stem of the individual grape berry is the pedicel.
The shoot of the vine develops from new buds located on the cordon and grow to include the leaves, tendrils and eventually grape clusters. Shoots first begin to the appear in spring, following bud break, accelerating growth till the flowering stage and usually slowly by the time that the vine begins veraison. During the stage of veraison (typically mid to late summer), the shoot starts to harden and change color from green to brown. The shoot is ripening at this point and becomes known as a “cane”. In wintertime, the canes of the grapevine are usually completely cut off with the amount and weight of the cane being used to gauge the amount of pruning and canopy management that will be needed for the upcoming year. The “tip” of the shoot is the small (0.4 in/1 cm) part of the shoot furthermost from the vine. Viticulturalist use the growth of this tip as an indication of vine vigor due to the fact that the tip competes with the grape clusters for resources from the vine. Ideally, shoot growth should come to a stop around the time of veraison but a vine that continues growing the shoots will stand the chance of less fully develop grape clusters.
Source – Wikipedia