Manifesto for a new expertise.

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What is the purpose of a rating given to a wine? The answer seems obvious: to evaluate, rank and advise. This triptych of common sense seems to us to have vanished in recent years, as the ratings of our French and especially international colleagues have tightened up spectacularly. First in the last ten points of the now generalised scale of 100, then very often between 95 and 100. Everyone agrees that the overall quality of the great wines has not ceased to progress over the last forty years, but to group together in the primeur tastings a hundred or so crus between five or six points does not seem to us to reflect the ageing potential and ambition of all these crus, nor above all to give clear indications for a primeur market which every professional recognises is looking for its second wind. As editor-in-chief and director of Bettane+Desseauve’s expertise, one of my main missions is to ensure that our prescription remains strong and indispensable. This is the legacy entrusted to me by Michel Bettane and Thierry Desseauve, and with them, a whole company whose good health depends more or less on the vitality of this mission. I can safely say that its success is based on two fundamentals: the relevance of our information and its widest possible sharing. Yes, it’s true, on average, our ratings for the 2020 vintage, which we consider excellent, will be lower than those given by most accepted and recognised experts, whether French, European, Chinese or American. Some people will be amused to think that we are once again trying to award bad marks from an imaginary referee’s chair. Some will trust us, others will close the file. Nothing more normal, the critic admits the criticism. We understand and accept all this. We think that this reduction in the scale of ratings used to judge the quality of a wine makes the mission of prescription lose all its effectiveness. On the one hand, the attempt to give more visibility to our own expertise is great. In a context where the specialist press is suffering, it is difficult to resist. On the other hand, the consumer is waiting for us. Let’s ask a young consumer to choose among a hundred wines separated by only two points in their score and see how they fare. At Bettane+Desseauve, when it comes to expertise, we have only one objective: to defend quality and to defend the consumer. We know that this legacy, left by Raymond Baudouin, founder of La Revue du Vin de France, is demanding. It implies strong choices and requires a clear (but never fixed) hierarchy between the wines submitted to our judgment. This is what we have tried to do with this formidable 2020 vintage. With this en primeur dossier, we are inaugurating a broader scale of scores, capable of revealing the differences between all these commendable wines. We keep repeating that Bordeaux has never produced such great wines. In its founding principles, our rating had to be equal to the diversity and richness of this vineyard, which is more difficult to apprehend than we sometimes think. After all, the whole world envies us. It is up to us to be worthy of it.

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