I’ve been using Cellar Tracker for a few months and tempted to invest in one of the affiliated professional wine review subscriptions. There’s a lot of choice and I’m not really sure where to start so I was wondering if the community had any advice? At the moment Im veering towards Decanter, purely because it’s a name I recognise. My interest is in collecting Old World wines. Most of what I own now are French wines, some Italy, Spain and Germany in there too.
I’d say John Gilman - View from the Cellar. Seems to be the most honest, no idea whether that opinion stands up to scrutiny or not though. ISTR his subscription is quite expensive, again I think because when claims independence.
Jancis Robinson purple pages? Admittedly I don’t subscribe & only read the free ones - however I find J.R. reviews tend to coinicide with my tastes in wine.
Fiona Beckett. Brilliant writer, more broad based covers wine AND food and spirits - a lovely read.
Take a look at your local library website as most have an online selection of magazines that you can access through the app ‘Libby’. Decanter is included on there for me (as well as other good reads - Olive, BBC Good Food, BBC Wildlife etc). There are hundreds of magazines but for your purposes it’s likely to get you Decanter for no charge. You just need a library card.
If you download the app I think it includes a list of all local libraries which subscribe to it.
Definitely second @Tannatastic. Great writer, covers a wide range of regions, travels his own path and a really, really nice guy. He also covers all the regions that you mention and is great at responding to any questions that you may have. His latest issue is a gem.
He will happily send you a sample copy, if you email him. Here’s the link:
Subscription is $120, for one year, $220, for two and worth every dollar, imho.
I have also previously subscribed to The Wine Advocate, Vinous, Jancis Robinson, Bill Nanson, Jasper Morris and still subscribe to WineDoctor and WineHog. All are very good, depending upon what you are most looking for but they all cover the Old World, in detail, although Bill Nanson, WineHog and Jasper Morris only really cover Burgundy and WineDoctor focuses upon Bordeaux and the Loire.
Jamie Goode’s blog is a very good free access site, too.
If you are registered with Cellar Tracker, I think that you can access Vinous free, for a month or two and many of the others offer cheap monthly subscriptions, so that you can see whether they offer what you are looking for.
If you are only going to get one, Vinous has the broadest range, I think; I hadn’t heard of them before I started using CT, but then noticed how many wines had one of their notes! They have some good articles too, especially those by Neal Martin.
They tend to have a few free articles on each site. I’d suggest reading a few and seeing who you like and who you don’t. Have a look at some scores for wines you know you like (and wines you know you don’t for that matter) to see which writers have similar tastes to you and then go with them.
What do you think about the recent controversy where Vinous were referenced with regards “pay to play”?
Details in this thread:
I’m not too bothered about the possibility that the choice of wines reviewed is influenced by the producers/trade, as I can make my own judgment about that. The possibility that they are canning bad scores or re-reviewing for higher scores is concerning, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt for the moment. The individual critics come across as having integrity, too, even if there are doubts about the organisation’s.
Fair enough. I think I’d largely agree. Re-scoring an entire swathe of wines certainly raises concerns.
I was just curious as to whether it had made you question your subscription.
I have a subscription to Jancis Robinson which is great for many reasons, but the difficulty I have is that so few wines out of the thousands that exist can be reviewed so I rarely find anything that is helpful, and a review of a different vintage is pretty pointless. I think that the best source of information is from the people selling the wine and comes down to whether you trust them. TWS is good but their notes are often limited and cover detail on the area and yet can be a bit missing on tasting notes that would be of more use. I would also like to get tech sheets but they are almost impossible to obtain.