How enjoyable is this wine? Wine ratings give you a fast and easy insight on what you can expect from a bottle. As the founder of Carl's Wine Club, I taste over 1000 Canadian wines per year, and rate many of them. Here's a quick guide on what each score means.
Below 88 Points: A Diplomatic Silence
Wines scoring below 88 points quietly stay off our publication radar. I respect the hard work of producers and winemakers, refraining from public critique to avoid negatively impacting those who dedicate themselves to the art of winemaking and the many challenges it comes with. Also, I recognize that many Canadian wine lovers might enjoy a wine that I rate below 88 points.
88 Points: The Benchmark
For me, 88 points is the baseline—a wine that meets its price-point but doesn't necessarily leave a lasting impression. It's a decent experience, with an as-expected nose and palate, but lacking that special element to make it really stand out. There's nothing wrong with a wine at 88 points, and it can serve many purposes well.
89 Points: Honesty and Intrigue
An 89-point wine captures my attention as honest and intriguing. It not only meets expectations but exceeds them slightly. With an attractive price point and the potential to evolve into something exceptional, these wines spark my curiosity.
90 Points: Surpassing Expectations
A 90-point rating signifies a wine that not only meets but surpasses expectations. It's on the cusp of becoming a rock star—a recommendation-worthy wine that you might be tempted to share on social media, or hurry and buy more of before it's sold out.
91 to 93 Points: Climbing the Superstar Ladder
Wines in the 91 to 93-point range ascend the superstar ladder. Here, one or multiple aspects of the wine stand out significantly—be it structure, texture, acidity, fruit component, length, or finish. These are wines that go above and beyond.
94 or 95 Points: The Rockstar Level
Rockstar status is reserved for wines that dazzle, occurring once a month or so in my tastings. At this level, every aspect of the wine—structure, texture, acidity, fruit component, length, and finish—surpasses expectations, making the price-point (almost) secondary.
96 to 99 Points: Approaching Perfection
Wines in the 96 to 99-point range are extremely rare, earning this distinction only a few times each year. These high scores are reserved for wines that approach perfection, showcasing a balance of texture, length, richness, and concentration—an almost-perfect symbiosis that makes you say 'wow' emphatically!
100 Points: The Pinnacle of Perfection
The elusive 100 points is reserved for the perfect wine—a rare gem that achieves unparalleled excellence in every aspect. This score is sparingly awarded, a celebration of the extraordinary and a testament to the dedication and artistry of the winemakers. In fact, I have not yet tasted a 100 point Canadian wine - as of December 21, 2023.
My rating system is a personal journey through the diverse landscape of wines, offering a roadmap to fellow enthusiasts. Whether you seek an everyday sipper or a once-in-a-lifetime experience, my goal is to help you gain valuable insights into the world of wines. Wine is both a personal and community experience. We learn more about our own preferences, as well as connect with others, through our discoveries.
Here's to the pursuit of perfection, one rating at a time. Cheers!
Carl Boucher, Founder & Chief Wine Officer, Carl's Wine Club