I just read Chandler Burr's new column in the New York Times. I am somewhat relieved to see that the author is not so keen on using the much advertised 4 star rating system which I cannot help but find a bit crude (please note, Burr does not even get to use 5 stars). But more to the point, I can only express scepticism regarding that approach to evaluating perfumes, so outrageously simplistic it is. It fails to convince because it does not leave room for the temporal, psychological, not to mention individual biological dimensions influencing one's appreciation of a fragrance. Stamping a perfume with one's four stars of approval could look ludicrous. In my opinion, there should be significant room left for doubt and openness, as a perfume, to use Umberto Eco's aesthetic notion, is perhaps more than any other art form, an open work of art...
Perhaps if one had to use a scale for clarity's sake, one could be inspired by professional wine tasters who use a scale from 1 to 100 using different criteria. But are numbers really more objective or do they simply offer the appearance of objectivity? See the debate, for example, around Robert M. Parker, Jr. in The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste.
Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir gets 2 "lovely" stars, but apart from that attribution, stars are not explicitly given to the other perfumes reviewed in the column. Although, I should probably check the paper edition to make sure of that. At any rate, they are not mentioned in the text itself. Bravo! This is probably some sort of inner resistance to an editorial decision.
Don't miss the other article by Burr today in the NYT about common misconceptions regarding synthetics in perfumes:Synthetic no. 5