The September 2013 issue of Decanter magazine included my article on the ageing qualities of Loire Cabernet Franc, which was based in part by the remarkable tasting that Les 5 du Vin had enjoyed in the cellars of Lamé Delisle Boucard in early June 2012.
Decanter is always published at least a month in advance, so the September edition came out in late July when France was on holiday. It was only after La Rentrée that it was picked up in the Loire and, especially in Bourgueil.
I suppose I should not have ben surprised that it was the score of 100 points given to the 1893 Bourgueil from Lamé that made the news. Decanter has recently changed their policy to require points up to 100 to be awarded to wines cited in articles. Philippe Boucard of Lamé Delisle Boucard was contacted and interviewed by La Nouvelle République and Radio France Bleu.
Although when I take part in judging at wine competitions I use marks as I’m required to do, I prefer to avoid using marks and certainly never use them on Les 5 du Vin or Jim’s Loire. I have always found marks pretty meaningless – difficult to shoehorn a wine’s intrinsic qualities into a set of marks even before you consider the circumstances and ambiance, when it was drunk.
Although I’m delighted that the ‘perfect score’ caught the media’s attention, I would have much preferred that it was the mythical bottle from 1893 that captured the attention in its own right rather than I gave it 100 points. It was an extraordinary occasion to climax an amazing tasting with a wine of 120, still in possession of its faculties.
The wine yes but more than that – a reflection on all the events that had taken place in Bourgueil, France and the world during that intervening period. A 100-points doesn’t start to cover that. It is entirely inadequate. It makes no more sense than noting railway engine numbers.
It would be good to think that the wine world and wine enthusiasts will one day overcome the addiction to scores – to hurl away the numerical crutch or at least take it down to the nearest charity shop.
1 Corinthians 13:11 sums it up perfectly: ‘When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.’