I’ve never had a 100-point wine. I’ve had a slew of wines that have scored in the 90-94 point range (which fall into the Outstanding category) and even a few that have reached 95 or 96 points (which are considered Classic).
But I’ve never had a 100-point wine.
A lot of people, especially inside the wine industry, discount the importance of the 100-point scale. And truthfully, I doubt that I could tell you which pinot noir was a 92 and which was a 94 if I tasted them blindly side-by-side.
But, still, a 100-point score is a 100-point score. It means the wine is perfect. And while a 90+ point score isn’t rare, a 100-point score certainly is.
To get a sense of just how rare a 100-point score is, click here. It’s a list of all of Robert Parker’s 100-point wines as of July 2009. By my count, it shows that Mr. Parker has awarded a perfect score to a mere 191 wines. According to Mr. Parker’s site, he’s reviewed over 150,000 wines. And only 191 of them have hit a perfect score. That’s an infinitesimally small 1/10th of 1 percent.
Between scarcity and pricing (click on some of those wine names from the Parker list to get a sense of how expensive they are), it’s no surprise then that I’ve never had a 100-point wine.
Until now. Maybe.
One of the very nice things about spending time in Healdsburg is that almost everyone is somehow related to the wine business. So, when we went to dinner with some friends last week it was no surprise that the husband is a winemaker. Specifically, Cameron Frey is the Associate Winemaker at Ramey Wines Cellars. And yes, he brought the wine.
Kerith and I don’t drink much cabernet sauvignon anymore. We’re pinot snobs, with a little bit of zin-craziness thrown in for good measure. And, of course, Ramey only makes cabernet and chardonnay (and a bit of syrah). So, it was with a little bit of polite weariness that I feigned excitement about Cam’s wine selection for the evening – a 2007 Ramey Cabernet from the Pedregal Vineyard in Oakville, CA.
As we began to enjoy the wine, I realized this was much better than the average high end cab. It had a great nose of dark fruit and a little bit of oak, but the tannins were very well structured and integrated without turning your tongue into sand paper. His wine displayed a cleanliness and restraint that I had never experienced in a California cabernet.
We delved into a discussion about the winemaking techniques, and I was floored to hear that the wine had spent two years in 100% new French oak. The last time I had a wine with that much oak on it I had to spit – the overwhelming vanilla-oaky mess reminded me too much of those Glade vanilla candle scented air fresheners. But this wine was delicious, and it actually paired well with just about everything we ate that evening.
And then, about half way through the bottle, almost off-handedly, Cam mentioned that back in October 2009, Robert Parker had tasted it while still in barrel. It scored a preliminary range of 97-100 points.
It took about a half-second for my brain to register that information mid-gulp. Then I proceeded to almost cough up half a glass through my nose. I managed to hold it together, but for the record, the wine wasn’t quite as good coming back up as it was going down.
Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening with my nose buried in the glass, savoring every last little drop of that precious juice. Did knowing that score make it taste or smell any better? I’ve got to admit that the "100-point fantasy" probably contributed to my enjoyment.
And all I could think for the next hour or so was, “Wow, this could be my first 100-point wine. And it’s a freebie!”
Later that night, I looked up the Parker review on the Pedregal page online:
97+ Robert M. Parker Jr.'s The Wine Advocate, December 2009, Issue 186
Ramey's sensational 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Pedregal is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 18% Petit Verdot. Notions of blueberry pie, charcoal, camphor, blackberry, cassis, and smoky oak are followed by a wine with sizeable tannins as well as structure. The extravagant fruit, richness, and intensity result in a remarkable, young Cabernet Sauvignon from one of Napa-s finest areas, the Oakville Corridor. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2035. Drink 2013 - 2035
Mr. Parker returns to Ramey this October to taste the finished product and assign a final score.
If for no other reason than to say that, yes, I’ve had a 100-point wine, I’m certainly rooting for Cam and the team at Ramey.
A picture of our bottle from that night is below (note the few drops that we allowed to drip on to the label - what a waste!). Most amazingly, the wine is available and can be pre-ordered online. At $150/bottle it's definitely pricey, but compared to similarly high scoring California cabernets, it's a steal.