Italian wine world at war over ‘scores versus notes’ split

Pic: Rob '100-point' Johnson

Italy’s wine world is facing a dangerous split that could make it even more of a basket case than it usually is, Fake Booze can reveal.

Last week Cerbaiona in Montalcino dismissed scores as ‘vague and imprecise’ and requested that journalists not use them.

But yesterday the Consorzio Regionale Italiano di Nueve Grandi Etichetta (CRINGE) announced that from now on they will only receive visits from critics – or send out samples – to those who agree to limit the analysis of their wines to a score out of 100.

The country is thought to be split 52/48 on the issue, though nobody can decide in which direction.

Purity and artistry

‘Language is such a vague and imprecise medium for expressing the complexity of what we do,’ said CRINGE’s Ingenua Idiota. ‘We are convinced that only the uncompromising purity of a score can capture the artistry of our members’ wines.

‘Particularly if it is between 90 and 100.

‘Below that, we’d suggest ignoring it.’

Dante’s inferno

CRINGE’s shock ‘score only’ move is believed to have been spurred on by an incident last week where super critic Dante Friulighieri described a bottle of Inferno as tasting of ‘iron ore, vapour rub and beastliness’.

The tasting note in question has since been blamed on poor translation software and a series of glitches in spellcheck.

But CRINGE have said they are not prepared to put up with what they call ‘the tyranny of adjectives’ any longer.

‘Every cruel word means lost sales,’ said Idiota. ‘It’s simply unacceptable that a wine could be humiliated publicly for being rubbish.

‘Even if it is.’

Writer with principles

Wine writers have been quick to express their concerns about CRINGE’s stance.

‘I get paid by the word so a “scores only” diktat would leave me massively out of pocket,’ said freelance booze scribbler, Francis Jobbinson.

‘Wineries would have to send me a lot of samples that I could sell on to my mates to make up for that shortfall. I have my principles.’

The marks you ordered sir…

CRINGE, though, say critics ought to be able to get a better price for their press samples because they shouldn’t even have to open the bottles to make an analysis.

‘When our producers send out samples to wine writers, they will attach a sticker with a winemaker-approved score out of 100, which writers should use as a starting point,’ said Idiota.

She advised journalists not to go below this score if they ever want to receive samples again. Though there was the option of adding extra marks for sustainability, biodiversity and recyclable packaging should they wish to do so.

Flawless integrity

Lisa Minelli-Brown, head of the American Sommeliers Syndicate & Wine Institute for Press Education (ASSWIPE), described the plan as ‘a bold and imaginative solution’.

‘Purists might question the idea of us letting producers score their own wines,’ she told Fake Booze. ‘But these guys are Italian, so I’m sure it’ll be fine.

‘And even if every score is monstrously inflated, who cares? The higher the score, the happier everyone is and the more money we all make.

‘So really this is a wine-win situation.’

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