How Wines are Reviewed

 Wines Reviewed ‘Open'

Wines are generally reviewed by Raymond Chan with their identity known or ‘open', rather than ‘blind', where the name of the wine is hidden. Often, the wines can be reviewed ‘single-blind', where the category of a group of wines tasted is known, but the identities of the wines within a group are not known.

It is generally accepted that there are both positive and negative aspects to tasting wines for review either ‘open' or ‘blind', and authoritative reviewers use both. Tasting wines with the identity known allows for the background of the wine, such as the production methods of viticulture and vinification, region and ‘terroir' to be taken into account. It also allows the personalities, philosophies, culture and aspirations behind the wine become part of the assessment process, allowing the reviewer to gauge the progress and success of the producer and the wine made in a holistic perspective that ‘blind' tasting does not allow. The ‘open' tasting approach can allow a more useful review and assessment to be made for the wine consumer. As part of the ‘open' tasting approach, information and views will be sought from the producer, in the form of tasting notes and technical data, as well as commentary by other tasters and critics, who may be involved in the tasting and assessment process. However, the review will be the written opinion and assessment of Raymond Chan in the final analysis.

Consumer Friendly Approach

As a wine show judge, a wine retailer and wine writer for over two decades, Raymond approaches wine from a consumers' point of view, looking for the positive features and attributes that provide enjoyment, rather than seeking out technical winemaking faults. Any technical wine faults or imbalances detected will be assessed in the context of a wine as a total expression. This consumer-friendly approach will be manifest in the style of the wine reviews, the descriptions and assessments meaningful for the wine drinker in a practical and easily understandable way for everyday life. They will be on "the bright side” of life!

Wine Ratings

Wines reviewed will be assessed and rated numerically as well as descriptively. The systems employed will be the Star rating system for a general overview and the 20 point scale for a more detailed judgement. Star rating, with a 5 Star maximum is generally the most easily understood and visual of methods conveying quality assessment. The 20 point scale has been the universal rating system in wine judging competitions, though this is changing. The reviews will use half-points and (+) or (-) to provide further differentiation. The 100 point system is very popular in the U.S. and provides even finer distinctions of quality assessment, but it is generally agreed that a 1% distinction in wine quality assessment is near impossible for most people to appreciate. The medal awards from wine judging competitions are extremely useful for consumers and very easy to understand. It is important to realise that all medal-awarded wines are of good to outstanding quality. A bronze medal denotes better than average or ordinary quality. The table below shows how the various rating systems can be compared. Raymond's ratings will be made with a positive and healthy outlook. Only wines with a , 15.5/20 or bronze medal rating and above will have reviews published.

Star Rating

20 Point Scale

100 Point Scale

Medal Award

20.0 – 18.5
93 – 100
18.4 – 17.0
85 – 92
Very Good
16.9 – 15.5
78 – 84
15.4 – 14.0
70 – 77
13.9 – 12.5
63 – 69
12.4 – 11.0
55 – 62
10.9 – 9.5
48 – 54
* Do Not Put In Mouth

The ‘Winery of the Year' Award

The ‘Winery of the Year' award is presented to the producer who has submitted the best selection of wines in the year to the end of November for ‘Feature Reviews'. (I exclude wineries that are distributed by ‘Wine2Trade', the company that Raymond Chan Wine Reviews operates under.) The award winner will be announced early December each year, and a commemorative engraved plaque sent to the nominated wine producer. Wines submitted in December will qualify for the award in the following year.

The criteria for the award are based on the qualities and significance of the wines in terms of excellence as seen in my descriptions and ratings, as well has how the wines have appealed to me on a subjective and hedonistic level as a wine enthusiast and consumer. In addition, the award takes into account innovation and style, and the progress the producer has made in making fine New Zealand wine, as well as the setting of standards for this country's industry. Taking these factors into account, I presume that readers who follow Raymond Chan Wine Reviews will find great enjoyment in the wines made by the ‘Winery of the Year' too.

Click on the year for the award winners: 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016 - 2017 
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