Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Alex Lake, Jun 6, 2018.
I agree with quite a lot of it . Especially the dreaded MW how amusing
I'm glad to see Neal Martin gets a good mark. It's quite fair that those who dole it out should also be on the receiving end, of course, whatever the subject.
I got Neal immediately despite the fact that I rarely read wine criticism other than random quoted tasting notes.
It would be interesting to get some kind of crowd-sourced view on the critics. Maybe not necessarily a score (which can be contentious) but an assessment about which areas they specialise in, and a sense of their preferences, etc. Matthew Jukes is an interesting one, as he gets panned here, and I wouldn't be looking to him for opinions on old world wines in general, but I used to regard his views on New World wines as generally pretty accurate.
No scores for Oz Clarke or Jamie Goode! I wonder if they're a bit miffed? ;-) Suspect Jamie doesn't care, as his interests mostly lie elsewhere.
Makes life a bit easier...
Neal Martin - Critic A is described as possessing integrity, discretion and objectivity. "...is also of a great humility (a rare quality in this profession) and has already gone back on [the original score] during en livrable retastings, a quite rarely observed thing among critics." The author sums up: "Not infallible, but commendable. 93-95 points.”
James Suckling - Critic B is referred to as "The Formula 1 of tasting", but there is an inference that some mutual back-scratching is to be expected. "You will have guessed, integrity is not a priority, but is liked at Bordeaux ... therefore receives a score that allows to come to future tastings! 90 points.”
Jacques Dupont - Critic C gets a completely favorable review, being acknowledged for a willingness to travel, to do research on the vintage conditions and also to reassess scores, however the final score (87-89) suggests a certain lack of sparkle.
James Molesworth - Critic D "travels mainly to friends’ and demonstrates opportunism", according to the author. Integrity, neutrality and the aptitude to reassess a score are not among [D's] qualities. Blind tasting does not mean tasting blind and giving a score or comment once the bottle is unveiled … well, one shouldn't displease a client… Without great interest, nothing to see here. 85-87 points.”
Jean Marc Quarrin - Critic E "tastes a lot ...yet a training on wine faults is urgently required. Has no humility but has the courage of [E's] convictions, even risking to offend domains. Limited interest though. 85-87 points.”
Yves Beck - Critic F is described as a "hedonist, not a critic. It will be much appreciated to invite [F] for a lunch or to sleep over at the chateau to get good comments and better scores. A training on wine faults is here also required. 85-87 points.”
Michel Bettane - Critic G "tastes a lot with certain skills but without any re-assessment ... tastes more often labels than wines. Neutrality and integrity are not a prime quality, humility neither. 83-85 points.”
Jancis Robinson - Critic H gets a rather mixed review: "...does not travel to properties often, seems honest, yet unpredictable, capable of the best and the worst. Can be biting in a totally arbitrary way. Remains very inconsistent, yet tends to follow the established order without really questioning it. Many aberration were noted on some crus and a training on wines qualities and faults is vividly advised. Do not follow [H's] recommendations. 81-83 points.”
Antonio Galloni - Critic I is where things start to really go downhill. "Surprising right from [I's] first en primeur tastings, big mistakes committed, never reassesses scores, only travels to friends. No integrity, also likes faulty wines. We advise basic wine training to gain credibility. To be forgotten; 80-82 points.”
Oliver Poles - Critic J "travels a lot to properties, that's [J's] only quality. Tastes labels before wines and integrity, neutrality or even humility are very far from [J's] preoccupations. Can also give you advice on how to make a better wine. If you know a good table (because [J] is also a gastronome) while telling a good story on the wine, a podium finish is secured, but don't forget to buy some ads, too; cronyism is required. Again, nothing to see here. 75-77 points.”
Jeff Leve - Critic K "only travels to friends' properties. Neutrality and integrity are not preoccupations, an American hedonist with a Californian palate and is a label drinker. Don't forget to welcome [K] at the table with very old vintages; good or bad it doesn't matter as long as the label is beautiful. A training on recognizing wine faults is imperative. For those who want to taste great wines with great harmony, finesses and elegance, [K's] recommendations are to be avoided. 68-70 points.
Matthew Jukes - Critic L is dismissed in a couple of sentences. "Does not travel, incoherent and incompetent, of no interest; don't waste your time. Because a score has to be given: 61-62 points.”
Rebecca Gibb - Critic M also gets it in the neck. "Does not travel, incoherent, proven incompetent, discredits the title of Master of Wine – if it still has any credibility in the eyes of wine professionals. Nothing to interest anyone. Because it's our duty to score this 'critic' – 61-62 points.”
Tim Atkin - Critic N doesn't do much to restore the reputation of the profession, either. "Incoherent and famously incompetent, without any humility. Has buried the title of Master of Wine for good. Don't waste your time, nothing to see here. 61-62 points.”
Chris Kissack - Critic O rounds out the main runners and riders. "Absolute necessity to get intensive training on wine tasting, one cannot improvise the role of critic. If you too want to criticize wines without knowing anything about them, [O] proves it's possible. 61-62 points.”
It is a very selective list, referring only to some who write about Bordeaux.
It's quite clearly focused on those who claim to specialise in Bordeaux, and especially those who regularly attend and comment on the en primeur tasting jamboree in April each year. That's presumably why the writer feels qualified to comment. So it's about a) their understanding of Bordeaux and b) attitude/character. I guess because he/she mentions so many who do not understand wine faults, also their basic tasting competence (in his/her opinion). Plenty of people including me and those Alex mentioned are excluded, because they are not EP attendees or claim any Bordeaux specialism.
I wonder why it's not so comprehensive on that category though: Spurrier, James Lowther, Stephen Brook, etc. have regularly been part of EP coverage in the UK.
Chris Kissack is a strange inclusion, though. I always associate him with the Loire Valley. Sure Oz Clarke covers Bordeaux, but maybe not EP?
I’ve not looked at Chris’s site since he went subscription, but he used to cover Loire and Bordeaux.
I take your point. Nobody exists in a vacuum and we are all subject to influences from the local culture and the personalities that make the wine.
I am not suggesting manipulation, massaging or canvassing I am just trying to say that I think that describing the wine and breaking it down and pulling it to bits is a more admirable skill in a wine critic than rehashing the story from the mouth of the winemaker.
Saying that, a certain amount of background brings it to life for the reader. It’s a fine balance
I wonder what anonymous made of the now retired eminence of Robert Parker .
I particularly enjoyed the rating of "critic B" - a real lesson in reading the note rather than just looking at the score!
I can't imagine who you are talking about ....
I think I can.....
Interesting that the three at the bottom count as "to be continued" if I read it correctly.
As a minor producer it is always irritating that some reviewers never look at wines blind in a line up, so big names always have a massive advantage. I think some of the Australian critics are the worst. I was pleased to see Neal Martin highly regarded as he gave very fair reviews to my wines in his last year of reviewing NZ for the WA..
How do other palates here chime with Galloni - 80-82 in Piemonte too?
Must make a note to remember to ask about this next time I see you towards the end of an offline ...
Several of the comments related to the writers ability to detect faults.
I find this confusing as it relates to ep tastings.
Anyone help me out?
En primeur tastings are not just about rating wines from mediocre to superlative.
Some of them *do* have winemaking flaws.
I'd put the percentage very low, but they exist.
Alex, roughly what percentage of the wines written about by the international critics listed would have ‘winemaking faults’?
Russell, I have no knowledge of who wrote this, or their agenda, but during en primeur week there are lots of older wines tasted, not just the new vintage. Not only at the endless dinners and lunches that are organised at official tasting venues and functions, but many critics are accommodated by the chateaux who have private tastings and dinners, and some chateaux also put on vertical tastings alongside their latest vintage as part if their EP offering.
Tom, I suppose that makes more sense. However I’m still surprised they don’t ‘screen’ what they serve.
I see this as quite different to a rushed pourer at a trade mass tasting event who can’t be expected to sample everything they pour.
I guess our anonymous writer could have slipped faulty wines into his tastings purely to test the critics
I pretty much did the full monty, the entire en primeur thing this year. I would estimate wines in the "flawed" category at about 5-7%.
You say "I see this as quite different to a rushed pourer at a trade mass tasting event who can’t be expected to sample everything they pour";
But Russell, this is, in many ways exactly that: a rushed trade mass tasting!
Separate names with a comma.