We’re into May, and this year is proving to be unusual. So far, only two wines — both reds — have scored a cinco (five star rating), but a startling number have come close with 4 and 4.5 star awards. It seems many are just having a tough time breaking that final star.

It was off to quite a dramatic start, with the very first wine tasted in 2018 winning five stars. That award went to the 2013 Errazuriz Estate Series Carmenère from Chile. Carmenere has nearly entirely replaced pinot noir as my go-to workhorse red, and this Chilean offering didn’t disappoint. If I recall, I think it may be the first carmy to land 5 stars since Winepisser launched (but don’t hold me to that.)

The second cinco went to France’s 2014 Pierre Amadieu Gigondas Romane Machotte Rouge. This syrah / grenache mashup has hints of blueberry and chocolate, and deserves buying by the case. Really fantastic, and easily a nose ahead of the Chilean competitor, I’d say.

Last year saw a raft of 5-star winners near the end of the year, so let’s hope things pick up.

On the other end of the spectrum, this site was designed to have snarky fun with the worst wines out there, and so far even the bad wines have been hard to find. It’s not for lack of trying on my part, either. We just live in the golden age of wine, and even cheap table wines are produced with methods that result in passable, drinkable offerings. To date, five wines landed 1 star, with most of those coming (predictably, even if regrettably) from Peru, and the other two from Argentina. Those are:

So if you see a lot of 3 or even 4.5 rated wines, it’s more the product of the era we live in, which isn’t a bad thing at all!