Wine Peeps: Leading the Coverage of Washington State Wines

By John ~ November 13th, 2009.

Kori and John tasting through wines with owner/winemaker Don Townshend of Townshend CellarWhen I read the numbers provided by good friend and excellent researcher, Sean Sullivan, in his Washington Wine Report early last week comparing the Washington wines reviewed by the three major wine publications, I got to thinking that I bet we at Wine Peeps review more Washington wines than any of the three leading subscription publications. Sure enough, when I tallied up the score, we have reviewed 789 Washington State wines from 227 different wineries on Wine Peeps since December 31, 2008, and we’re not yet finished for the year. According to Sean’s numbers, that is slightly higher than the 722 wines from 170+ wineries for Wine Enthusiast, which had much broader Washington State coverage than either Wine Spectator or Wine Advocate.

You may be also interested to note that our scoring is a little tougher, maybe more realistic would be a better choice of words, than any of those three publications. While we are huge believers in the overall quality of Washington wines, I don’t see how any professional reviewer can in good conscience give 90+ point scores to 60% of the wines he reviewed, as did Jay Miller of Wine Advocate. It appears to smack of the same grade inflation we often see in schools today. Of the three leading publications, I believe that Paul Gregutt at Wine Enthusiast was the most realistic in his scoring, at least from looking at the numbers.

Since we at Wine Peeps score on the five-star system rather than the 100-point system, an exact comparison is not possible. However, 226 of the 789 wines we have reviewed garnered four stars or better (28.4%). More importantly, at least to us, is how many of those four-star+ wines also scored four bangs for your buck (out of 5) or more, meaning they have an excellent Quality-to-Price Ratio (QPR).

So far this year, 155 of the 789 Washington wines (19.7%) we have reviewed have a Quality Rating >=4 stars (out of 5) and a QPR >=4 bangs for your buck (out of 5). Those are the kinds of good deal wines I want to buy, and it is this kind of information that we aim to provide our readers each time they visit Wine Peeps.

Next Friday, I will share with you a list of the 70 wineries, out of 227, that produced those 155 wines of excellent quality and high QPR. Those are our “go-to” Washington wineries for 2009. Be sure to stay tuned!

Filed under: American Wine, Washington State Wine, Wine Magazines

Reader's Comments

  1. Sean Sullivan | November 13th, 2009 at 9:39 am

    John, just one clarification. As mentioned in my post, Miller gave 60% of the reviews the Advocate *published* 90 point ratings or above. A considerably larger number of wines were sampled than were published. I will be providing more detail on this in a subsequent post.

  2. John | November 13th, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for the clarification, Sean.

  3. John | November 13th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    I’m looking forward to your additional data, Sean, however, I doubt that it will change the relative percentages much, because we all taste wines that we don’t publish about.

  4. Sean Sullivan | November 13th, 2009 at 10:55 am

    In Advocate’s case it will actually change the percentage considerably based on their publication criteria. I’m waiting to get some information from Spectator as well. More to follow.

  5. walt | November 13th, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I look forward to finding your aggregate tasting data. Let’s face it, no matter what one’s budget, QPR makes sense to everyone and I thank you for providing this service. The 2 reasons I find the Spectator’s evaluations valuable are 1. organizational (searchable online database is the best out there) and 2. their tastings are done blind. If you can match these 2 points, your site will be the most valuable to discerning enthusiasts like myself.

  6. John | November 13th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you for valididating the importance of blind tastings and QPRs, two cornerstones of our approach here at Wine Peeps. We’re still working on the searchable data base, one of our goals for the coming year.

  7. Dave | November 16th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Many Washington wines are not submitted for tasting by Jay Miller of the Wine Advocate. And of those he does taste, only those scoring 85 points or higher are published. Therefore, the number of wines scoring 90 points or higher as a percentage of all Washington wines is much lower than the 60% mentioned in this article.

  8. Sean Sullivan | November 16th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Dave is correct on the 85 point cutoff for Spectator and the implications for the percentage of wines rated 90 points or above. ‘ll be writing more about this in a subsequent post.