QPR Scoring on kosher wine musings explained – revised (2.0)
So, my buddy, Avi Davidowitz of Kosher Wine Unfiltered, and I have been harping on the absurd price of wines in the kosher wine world. I do it yearly, in my year in reviews. I have also done it, in a positive light, in my QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) wine posts. Avi does it on every score by baking the QPR score into the qualitative score itself, but by also calling out whether he would buy the wine again or not.
However, over the past couple of months, I have personally spent an absurd amount of money to taste wines and they were all a waste of my money. Now, while that is my own personal cross to bear, it is getting out of control. Kosher wine prices continue to rise and the values continue to plummet. I literally, screamed about this in my year in review.
However, until this point, all I have been doing is preaching this subject, and extolling the good, in regards to the QPR score. It has come time to make clear what is a logical buy and what is illogical.
Quality to Price Ratio Valuation
Now, to be clear, just because a wine is 150 dollars it does not make it a good wine, and that is clear by the wine’s score, and score alone, whose methodology I define here. I am NOT going to change my wine scores, those are qualitative in nature and need no new tweaking. If a distributor or winery, or BOTH, wants to price a GREAT wine at 200 dollars that is their prerogative.
Value is defined in the dictionary to mean: the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. Far too many people hold something in high regard based upon its price or its label or other such characteristics. That is not an objective or even a logically subjective approach or methodology for defining value or regard for an item’s worth, in the world of wine.
Initially, there have been many drafts of this post and methodology, the focus was on price, and even I fell into that mistake. In the end, value, as it is defined below works for any price point.
So, stated simply, the QPR score is based SOLELY on the wine’s qualitative score and its price in comparison to other wines with equal or greater quality scores, within the same wine category. Simple.
Approach to Valuation
So what wines will receive a valuation score? EVERY wine. No matter the price and no matter the perceived value. So, for example, the 2017 Chateau Leoville Poyferre and the 2014 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, if I was tasting them again today, they would receive a valuation score. Same, with the new 2019 roses I will score soon, and so on.
Given that the score for the 2017 Chateau Leoville Poyferre was almost in-line with the 2017 Les Roches de Yon-Figeac, which is literally a third to a fourth its price, one may think that the 2017 Chateau Leoville Poyferre would receive a low valuation score. However, the score is not based upon a wine by wine comparison, rather it is a score of wine against its category. The thought process follows the Gartner Magic Quadrant methodology, but we will expand upon that below.
So, let us bring up an obvious point here. The comparison is a bit like apples-to-oranges as the 2017 Chateau Leoville Poyferre is a cult-like wine in the kosher wine world, and it is a 2ème Grand Cru Classé Saint-Julien, 1855 wine. In comparison, the 2017 Les Roches de Yon-Figeac is a lovely wine, but it is just a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. So, is this a legal and logical comparison? Can we attach a low valuation score to the 2017 Chateau Leoville Poyferre, which is on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, because there exists a wine from Right Bank of Bordeaux with an equal or slightly equal wine quality score? The answer is yes. What we are comparing here is the wine’s quality to the category’s quality and price.
The entire discussion around a wine’s pedigree and appellation does not come into the wine’s quality score, in a perfect world, and that is often how I taste wine, a score comes in blind, irrelevant to the label, price, winery, appellation, or region. The only place an appellation or Pedigree does come into play is in the drinking window, but that is it.
So, the purists will cry foul, and I can see their perspective, but this is a pure valuation score and as such, it must be done irrespective of the wine’s perceived value or uniqueness, IGNORING all else in the pure focus of value.
Of course, and this is obvious, the fact that the 2017 Chateau Leoville Poyferre is an expensive wine has to do with all the aspects I discussed here in this post. Is the wine overpriced, that is NOT the point of the valuation score. IT IS NOT! The decision to price wine and the price point itself is not being scored here. What is being scored is how that price compares to other wines within the wine category against its qualitative score. In other words its QPR score.
Side Note – I have used the QPR moniker in the past in ways that were short-sighted, and I accept that below. In the end, QPR means Quality to Price Ratio – it is a metric, a ratio, it is not a score. As such, going forward, QPR will not denote a wine with a high value to price, but rather will denote what it should have always been, the metric by which we will decide if a wine is a good value for its price paid. End of Side-Note.
QPR Examples Defined
Still, this does not require 200 dollar wines to get a great or subpar QPR score. Of the wines, I tasted this past month or so, most of them were 50 dollars and lower. They were mostly horrible wines, and even the good wines I had were not worth the price I paid.
Take for instance the nice 2019 Bat Shlomo Rose, it comes in at 28 dollars or so a bottle, here in the USA. I am not discussing TAX, because that is not the same everywhere, so I always take online pricing. The wine clocked in at a respectable 90+ score, which is a HUGE step-up for it, as the past few years have been horrible. Either way, at 28 dollars it is a non-starter for me.
Rose brings up a very important issue, which is the wine’s price range. The price range for a rose in the kosher market ranges from 12 dollars to 40+ dollars, YES, I am ignoring the Chateau D’esclans Garrus and its 100 Euro price, sorry, whether you like or dislike that rose, it does not enter anyone’s logical representation of the kosher rose market. So, how does one properly manage that price range in comparison to high-end reds or low-end whites? They all have very different price ranges! The answer is weighting, we will weight wines within a range of 5 price ranges and score based upon where they fall against the wine’s category.
So, in rose wine, the mid-range, AKA the median, is somewhere close to 22 dollars, yes, it is so shocking it hurts me to write that, but that is life in the kosher rose market! So, a 20 dollar rose that is good, like the 2019 Cantina Giuliano Rosato, that I scored it the same as the 2019 Bat Shlomo Rose, would receive a good QPR score, or close enough anyway, as it is below the median price but at a better, or equal, quality rating. Actually, the Bat Shlomo Rose, while a nice wine, weighs in at an absurdly high weighting, even though the price difference is only 8 dollars (20 versus 28). However, on the weighted scale, the Bat Shlomo is 22% higher than the category average, even if it does have a good enough score.
Yes, I know this will not be well received unless you are on the plus side of the QPR rating. I also know that it is time for the kosher wine industry to make QUALITY at better prices. SIMPLE. I have planted a flag that I hope people will rally to. It is high time we stop paying for wines that are overpriced and low in value.
Finally, what about a bottle of wine like the 2019 Contessa Annalisa Pinot Grigio? It is not a bottle of wine I would buy, I scored it a 70, but it goes for 12 dollars a bottle. So, you would think it would receive a low QPR as the quality is low, right? Actually, it does not, because the quality is not the sole input into QPR, it is also price, and the price is low.
Now, many may say, if that is a wine you would never buy, why score the QPR? Because in the end, QPR is NOT a subjective score, it is a mathematical and objective score, and as such, it can be applied to even poor scoring wines. What you need is the score of the wine (70), the price of the wine ($12), then the wine’s category (non-aging white wine), finally, the median values for price and scores in the wine’s category. Well, in this case, the wine category is non-aging white wines. The price range for this wine category ranges from 10 dollars to 40 dollars, with wines like Kos Yeshuos and Yaacov Oryah being the outliers. This is not enough to define the average, what we are really looking for here is the median. In this case, the median comes in at around 19 dollars or so. So, we have the median price range. The median score for non-aging white wines comes in at an 83. Now, we have what we need. Given that the wine scores a 70, it is far off the median, while the price is also better than the median, so you have what we call a bad wine, qualitatively, that is cheap by QPR standards and would get an EVEN score, but because its nothing I would ever want to buy again, it is scored N/A.
In comparison, the 2018 Chateau Les Riganes white, has a high QPR score. Why, because the price is below the median, it sells for 14 dollars and it scores a 91 which is well above the median, so it is a big winner.
As stated above I have punted for some time now, in regards to a logical QPR or really, better stated, a proper HOLISTIC valuation score. I made this clear in my scoring post 2.0, I stated I was punting on valuation. Well, the punting is now over, and here is my methodology for a wine’s valuation scoring.
Further, as stated above, I used QPR as a score instead of a metric. Still, I also used it as a metric, saying this wine has a good QPR, but scoring it QPR. I used QPR in a double-duty/meaning. I used monikers like QPR Superstar, QPR madness, Super QPR, QPR Star, and others. That will now all change, the QPR term is the metric, as explained above, and the scores will be defined below.
The basic methodology is that we have two medians the price median and the quality median. The more you are to the higher side on the quality median the better the Q of the QPR. Still, you also need to weigh that against the price against its peer wine category’s median. The closer you are to the wine category’s price median, and the higher you are to the plus side of the wine category’s quality median the higher the QPR score. Of course, if you go the opposite way, the lower the QPR score you get.
To do this QPR methodology we need to compare equal-like types against each other, so we need categories. I am not the first person to need these categories. The base ones are pretty obvious:
Sadly, that is not enough differentiation for us to create proper value metrics. So, we need to further differentiate the wines within the main categories (red, White, Dessert), and that brings us to:
Drink “soon” White Wine
Rose Wine (always drink soon)
Drink “soon” Red Wine
Mid-range aging Reds (4 to 11 years)
High-end Red wines (11 and more years)
High-end White wines (7 and more years)
Sparkling Wine (No need here for extra differentiation)
Now, before we all go crazy on this, we need to understand that the kosher wine market is not that divergent in categorization. Meaning, that there are not hundreds of ageable red wines. Some people think there are, LOL! However, the vast majority of those wines are all horrible, and as they age they get worse. Further, we do not have hundreds of Bordeaux wines per vintage let alone hundreds of Saint-Emilion wines.
So, for now, let us stick with these wine categories and see how they evolve over time.
Price Range Tiers/Brackets
So, as we discussed earlier, price ranges are going to be kept to a maximum of 5. I wanted three, but that does not create enough of a weighting within the valuation scoring, as you will see below. So, we will have 5 price ranges. Those ranges will get weighted per wine category.
There are two vectors to this score, the quality score, which is 100% about the wine, is on one axis. The second axis is the price of the wine, and that falls into a few tiers. These tiers follow my top wines for Passover:
- Below 15 dollars
- Below 35 dollars
- Below 50 dollars
- Higher than 50 dollars
- Higher than 100 dollars
Clearly, we all want wines that are below 25 dollars and score 93 points, sadly, they do not exist, though the 2018 Domaine Netofa Latour, White comes really close!! It misses the score by a drop and the price as well. Now, a 100 dollar wine that is scored an 87 or lower, abound in the kosher wine world, like LOTS of them! No, they do not get a good valuation score.
So, if you score the same wine quality score but you are two rungs or worse, on the pricing scale, you are the WINNER of the worst wine valuation in my methodology. That means there is an equal or better wine available two rungs of pricing below the wine in question.
Of course, these price ranges are just an example they are not actually used, except for maybe ageable reds. In the end, we will always bracket the wine category’s price range and create five price tiers and then we will have our median. Like we did in the rose and drink now white examples we had above.
Qualitative Score Tiers/Brackets
As we stated in the white wine example above we cannot just live with pricing tiers/brackets we also need Scoring tiers/brackets, so that we understand the medians and then we can place the wine in its proper price and qualitative quadrant to create a QPR infographic representation of QPR.
Again, we need to create a median from the scores of the wines tasted. Why? Let us take you back into time, using our trusty time machine. You are in Israel, during the Shimita year of 2015. You go to the Shuk and pick up ALMOST any white wine from 2014 and you had a 90+ wine, no problem. That year was a CRAZY outlier, incredible in every way. You had to WORK very hard to make bad white wine in 2014, really HARD! Now, how does one properly give those wines a QPR score, again, this score is meant to be as objective as possible, other than the subjective input of the qualitative score.
So, we need tiering. What if Matar’s Sauvignon Blanc scored a 93 but was 100 Sheckel and then you had Netofa’s Chenin Blanc coming in at 50 Sheckel at 92. How do we compare them? We need to know where the median is to make a QPR weighted score. So, like the pricing tiers, we will have exemplary score tiers, though they will rarely if ever fall out in this manner.
- Below 70 (or really two quantiles below the median)
- Below 80 (or really one quantile below the median)
- 90 Scored wine (Median)
- 95 or lower (One quantile better than the Median)
- 100 or lower (Two quantiles better than the median)
QPR Methodology Implementation
So here is my version of the QPR scoring system (an expansion of the simple QPR moniker). Again, this score will be applied to each and every wine, like the qualitative score described in the link above. These are listed from worst to best (like the point scoring system I defined in the link above):
- BAD – This means the wine is two tiers of price or quality out of synch in comparison with its peers, within the same category
- POOR – This means the wine is more than one tier of price or quality out of synch in comparison with its peers.
- EVEN – This means the wine is on par with its peers, in regards to price and quality.
- GOOD – This means that the wine is a price or quality rung BETTER in comparison with its peers.
- GREAT – This means that the wine is two price or quality rungs BETTER in comparison with its peers.
- N/A – This means that no matter the QPR score received the wine’s qualitative score is so low it falls below the 80 score barrier, which defined in my wine score post as – Flawed and not recommended at all.
- Winner – This means that the wine has received a score of at least 91 and is also priced below the median price for the wine’s category. In other words, it is a reasonably priced wine that I would buy – AKA a wine that scores a 91 or more. This is not meant to be a singular wine that garners the WINNER title. This is not a zero sum game. The dream is to have many wines with a QPR score of WINNER within that wine’s cartegory.
Mapping of QPR wines
Finally, if we were to map the wines given our methodology, and wanting the Gartner magic quadrant we would use an XY plot graph with the Y-axis in the middle.
Impacts of the new methodology
Well, there are a few things to talk about here.
Sample Size and wine categories
For all of those that want an apple-to-apple QPR rating for Sauvignon Blanc wines, forget it. There may be enough of a sample size for Sauvignon Blanc or maybe all red Bordeaux wines in the kosher wine world. But then what will you do with Chenin Blanc? What about Pinot Gris, what about Rioja, what about Chianti. Come on guys, this will not work. We need larger numbers of kosher wines within a single area to make the sample sizes large enough to get an effective median. So, sorry, but it is far simpler to keep it to the eight categories I have above.
The point of making QPR an effective metric is to get people to start thinking. To have someone go, this wine is a 93 wine, but it costs 155 dollars, so its QPR is EVEN at best. While I can get a 93 scored wine for 70 dollars or maybe even close to 40 dollars. The point is that people need to think about the price before saying this is a good wine so I am buying it.
Now, I get it, why not do Cabernet Sauvignon, the single most common wine in the entire kosher wine market? At least then we can have a proper comparison. Well, that sounds great, but really? I could do that but 98% of them would fall outside of the QPR values because the vast majority of them are horrible. Sure, we have a single Four Gates, Covenant, one or two, max 3 Herzogs, then what? Forget Israel. So, what do we have left? Europe? Sorry, those are not Cabernet Sauvignons in France, those are Bordeaux wines, with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and other non-Cab components mixed in. So, what do we have then?
In the end, until we can get sample sizes of good wines that will have a hope to have a good QPR score, we need to go with the all-in approach. Once we get a larger sample size of better wines we can happily talk about getting more fine-grained on our wine categories.
Wine Category specifics
So, what makes a non-aging red wine? Well, a wine that will last 6 or fewer years in the bottle from the vintage’s year. OK, so based on Chateau Tonnelle’s drinking window, we see that it will last 10 years, so we can say that it is a red aging wine. However, now we have a perceived issue, which is we are now comparing it with the 2017 Chateau Leoville Poyferre, which has a drinking window until 2033, maybe later. Here, we saw the opportunity to add another tier as the sample set was sufficiently large to allow for that.
Again, looking at my year-end QPR and best wines list, the definition of QPR will shift, which is GREAT, all part of the kosher wine evolution. However, remember also, that the wines on that list are exactly that, the best of the best, and as such, they are meant to push the boundaries in all directions of the distribution, meaning, until the sample sizes grow, this is the best we can do, even if it creates some interesting statistical anomalies.