Champagne scores – what they mean

Although it might seem criminal to reduce an expensive bottle of champagne down to a single number, experts around the world use points and wine scores as a quick way to describe the overall quality.

Broadly, anything less than 85 is faulty, less than 90 is sound but unexciting, and 91 is where all the real fun begins.Tyson Stelzer

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A 94 point champagne has impeccable purity and immaculate balance — a gold medal in a wine show. Beyond, it’s not greater concentration of flavour, more obvious fruit or more clever winemaking tricks that set it apart.

True greatness is declared by something more profound: the inimitable stamp of place — ‘terroir’ to the French, articulated most eloquently in length of finish and palate texture. Persistence of aftertaste and depth of mineral character to distinguish the very finest champagnes.

Here’s what the numbers mean:

100

The pinnacle of character, balance and persistence. In the 2014-2015 Champagne Guide, less than 1% of champagnes tasted scored 100 points. Sadly, they’re all ear-splittingly expensive.

99

Almost perfection (20 on the 20 point scale). Less than 1% of champagnes tasted.

98

An exceedingly rare calibre of world-class distinction. Less than 3% of champagnes tasted. The prestige cuvées of the top houses tend to rule this territory

97

More than exceptional; 4% of champagnes tasted. Look out for one $$$ cuvée in the stratosphere this year.

96

Exceptional. Top gold or trophy standard in a wine show (19/20); 8% of champagnes tasted. This is the point where the best value is.

95

Offering an edge that pushes beyond excellent. 16% of champagnes tasted.

94

Excellent champagne that I love. Gold medal in a wine show (18.5/20). 18% of champagnes tasted.

93

Almost excellent; 11% of champagnes tasted.

92

A very good wine that characterises its place and variety; 11% of champagnes tasted.

91

Better than good, offering an edge of distinction. Silver medal (17/20); 7% of champagnes tasted.

90

A good wine that I like; 4% of champagnes tasted. Only buy if it’s cheap.

89

Better than sound and almost good; 4% of champagnes tasted.

88

Sound. Worth buying if it’s cheap. Bronze medal standard (15.5/20); 3% of champagnes tasted.

87

Almost sound; 3% of champagnes tasted.

86

Simple and ordinary. Less than 1% of champagnes tasted.

85

Ordinary and boring, though without notable faults (14/20); 1% of champagnes tasted.

84

Borderline faulty. Less than 1% of champagnes tasted.

83

Faulty. Less than 1% of champagnes tasted. Caution!

82

Distinctly faulty (12/20). Less than 1% of champagnes tasted.

81

Exceedingly faulty. Less than 1% of champagnes tasted. Stand well clear.

80

Horrid. Less than 1% of champagnes tasted. You’ve been warned.

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