Paying for the points: how our wines stack up

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  • Full marks: Taylor’s Scion Port 1855

    Full marks: Taylor’s Scion Port 1855

All wine publications have their way of evaluating the bottles that they usually taste blind. Most now use the 100-point system that I believe Robert Parker started, and here is how he explains it.

A 70–79 is average with little distinction, but soundly made; 80–89 is barely above average, to very good with no noticeable flaws.

Once you get to 90–95 you have an outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and in the rare 96–100 he calls them extraordinary, profound, complex and worth a special effort to find.

So at the highest cost per point we have two 100/100 ports available. I refer to our Taylor’s 1855 Scion and their 1863 Single Harvest, both of which have been recently rated a perfect score by Parker.

Let’s just say that these historic masterpieces, in beautiful decanters and boxes, could be yours for $37.93 per Parker point. I am sure that if you can afford a bottle you can do the math.

But just imagine opening a bottle of the 1855 to share with a dozen or so friends as you discuss a year when Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was emperor of France and young Queen Victoria, accompanied by her husband Prince Albert, visited the Paris World Fair.

Incidentally this was the event that caused the great classification of Bordeaux wines as the French wanted to showcase them to the world at this very exhibition.

Not in a port mood? I suggest we stay in Bordeaux and go for a 39 cents a pointer and try our Chateau Cambon la Pelouse 2010 – Haut Medoc. This little gem sells for $36.15 and various critics score it from 89 to 92; here is what Parker has to say, “There are nearly 200,000 bottles of this dense ruby/purple wine, which exhibits loads of liquorice, barbecue smoke, roasted meats, black currants and sweet cherries. It is well made, medium-bodied, with silky tannins and a long finish.

“This large estate, located not far from the classified-growth chateaux of Cantemerle and Giscours, has produced a blend of 50 per cent merlot, 47 per cent cabernet sauvignon and 3 per cent petit verdot.”

By the way, 2010 is an historic vintage and one of the best in Bordeaux.

We have a wine that really should be selling for 47 cents a point, but we have reduced it to 26. I personally think so much of it that at a recent tasting, where I was requested by the group to not include a chardonnay, I sneaked this one in to taste blind with them and it was a big hit.

In fact, James Suckling gives it 96 and Parker 95. Let me again quote Parker, “Wow – the 2011 Hunting Hill Chardonnay shows off an incredible nose of exotic fruits, spices and savouries including mango, guava, pineapple paste and yeast extract over touches of brioche, cashews, fresh ginger, cinnamon toast and coriander seed with a whiff of honeysuckle.

Medium to full-bodied, rich and seductive in the mouth, this chardonnay is one for the hedonists as it offers an array of tropical fruit and spice flavours balanced by racy acidity and a finish with great length. Drink it now to 2021+”.

So why would we reduce a remarkable wine from $46.00 to $25.00? A good question indeed and I will give an honest answer. I happened to be having dinner with one of the owners and was so bowled over by the possibility of acquiring such perfection that, let’s just say, I bought a tad more than I should have for our tiny island.

The wine is Kumeu River Winery 2011 Hunting Hill Vineyard Chardonnay from Auckland in New Zealand. If you, like myself, love our world’s greatest white wine grape, please do yourself a favour and try some.

We actually have the 2011 and the 2013 San Felice Il Grigio Gran Selezione from Tuscany and both vintages reach the stratospheric 95/100, a quite unbelievable achievement for a mere 39 cents a point — $37.00 a bottle. I will share what the Wine Enthusiast has to say about the 2013, “Smooth and delicious, this boasts enticing scents of violet, berry, leather, tilled soil and aromatic herb.

The radiant, elegant palate offers ripe red cherry, crushed raspberry, white pepper and liquorice, while a note of pipe tobacco closes the finish. Polished tannins and bright acidity provide balance and structure. Drink 2018–2025.”

I am quite amazed that we have not sold out of this wine, the winery has.

This column is a paid advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers, spirits is available at

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Published Sep 1, 2017 at 8:04 am (Updated Sep 1, 2017 at 8:04 am)

Paying for the points: how our wines stack up

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