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Marcus Hofschuster publishes 150,000th wine review


The wein.plus-tasting director Marcus Hofschuster has published the 150,000th wine critique on 3 December 2021. There are very few tasters in the world who can look back on such a large number of reviews. He began his work as a wine critic in 2000.

The wein.plus-tasting director Marcus Hofschuster published his 150,000th wine criticism on 3 December 2021. He rated the 2020 Weinviertel DAC Ried Kirchgarten Grüner Veltliner Reserve from the Setzer winery with 89 points.

The number of wines he has tasted, however, is significantly greater: in total, he has already given almost 200,000 reviews for wein.plus since its launch in 2000, but reviews with less than 80 points were not published in the first few years. This has changed in the meantime: For a long time now, every rating appears without qualification. "We want to reflect the full transparency of our work for our members with every single point score," explains the head of tasting.

For the first of the 150,000 reviews in the wein.plus tasting database, Hofschuster rated a 1999 Riesling Spätlese from the Escherndorfer Lump vineyard of Michael Blendel (Franconia) on 7 June 2000. It was available at the winery for 13.20 marks and received 81 points.

Comparability of reviews across many vintages

Since the beginning, Marcus Hofschuster has relied on evaluation with the 100-point scale as well as consistent blind tasting under always the same conditions in the tasting room in Erlangen. He describes the changes in his work since 2000 as minimal: "Today we take even more time for the wines than before, taste them several times if necessary and also have optimised framework conditions - for example in the selection of glasses."

Worldwide, only very few tasters work with this consistency: awarding points during visits to trade fairs, tastings or in the winery is rejected by Hofschuster, as the different conditions in each case, for example lighting, room temperature, humidity and noise level, can lead to different results. "For me, the comparability of the assessments across many vintages is the decisive demand I place on our work," emphasises Hofschuster. Since 2017, he has been supported in tasting and organising by Kim Schreiber. The hotel manageress and sommelier previously worked in top hotels and top restaurants, for example in the two-star restaurant Tantris in Munich, in the Vue Maximilian as well as in the Rilano No.6.

For Hofschuster, the most striking development of the wines in the 21 years of his work so far is "the enormous increase in quality across the board". "In 2000, about a third of the wines tasted were not recommendable," he reports, "today, wines that are not at least 'good' are rather rare." in 2021, only eight wines have scored less than 75 points so far and are therefore no longer recommended. The most important development for him: "Today, a not insignificant part of all European top wines is produced organically or biodynamically. The wine scene was very sceptical about this for many years. But the producers have proven to the doubters: Yes, it works!"

Greatest possible differentiation of ratings

Looking back, Hofschuster notices that wines today "usually express finer, more precise aromas than in the past" - and that despite the challenges of climate change. The oenological interventions in the wine cellar have "perhaps not become less", but they are now "more subtly perceptible" in blind tastings. "Today, it is seldom barrique tones, bright aromas or power that are supposed to suggest top quality, but rather forced reduction and yeast tones," he says, summing up his decades of experience.

In his 21 years of work, the wein.plus tasting director attaches great importance to the greatest possible differentiation in the evaluation. He therefore uses the 100-point scale to a greater extent than other tasters. "We are often accused of rating too low," explains Hofschuster, "but we only rate much more differentiated than is usual today. Real top wines also get the high ratings they deserve. The points inflation of the past few years, on the other hand, has led to a completely distorted picture In the 21 years of his work, Marcus Hofschuster has therefore only awarded the dream mark of 100 points to twelve of the now 150,000 wines.