• Alexander Smith

Which wine writer do I trust?

So even though I am always tasting and reading about the latest trends in wine, there is so much movement out there it can sometimes be overwhelming. The big wine publications such as Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate etc. have access to 1000s of wines, and so only a few select individuals are lucky enough to taste through 100s of wines from say one small appellation. However, just because you have access to all these wines does not make you a good wine writer/critic. Hence, below I will try to share who I trust, when researching/buying new wines from different regions.


Jeff Leve - The Wine Cellar Insider - Jeff is always drinking Bordeaux, both current or older vintages. I do not know anyone who drinks as much Bordeaux as Jeff. His scores can sometimes be on the high side, however when comparing his scores to mine during En-Primeur campaigns, he is often on the money. I should mention that most modern wine critics are only tasting the current vintage, from time to time they will get access to a vertical, but this is not the norm. Jeff has a large wine collection and is learning through his own experience, how the wines develop and age. He drinks at all price points, from first growths all the way down to small garage wineries. Basically, he knows his stuff

Jane Anson - Decanter - Jane, has just written the most amazing book on Bordeaux - 'Inside Bordeaux'. This books looks at hundreds of Chateaux and the different soil types of each appellation. This is a Bordeaux lovers bible. Jane lives in Bordeaux, and hence can be seen as the eye on the ground. Any new developments within the Bordeaux wine scene, she is often the first to know. She has amazing connections and I am often very well aligned to her, and so will always trust her judgement.


William Kelley - Wine Advocate - William is always drinking Burgundy. Not just current vintages but older (much older) vintages. He spends 3+ months in Burgundy every year and knows everyone. Burgundy is the most difficult region in the world to understand, and William has a wonderful way of filtering through the producers to highlight the superstars. I also appreciate how if a producer is not at their game, he will call them out. Whenever I buy burgundy I always refer to his in depth reports.


James Molesworth - Wine Spectator - James covers Napa, Bordeaux, Rhone and Port. So his schedule is pretty busy, but I always feel his heart is in the Rhone. James' coverage is always complete, and you only need to follow him on Instagram to know which region he drinks more of. Shout out to Joe Czerwinski (Wine Advocate), who is someone else who I will refer to when buying Rhone wines.


Monica Larner - Wine Advocate - Monica covers the whole of Italy, and is always consistent in her notes. I am always aligned to her and trust her when buying wines which I have not previously tasted. I don't know any other critic who drinks as much Italian wine as her. I appreciate how she is not just covering the main regions of Toscana and Piemont, but the other small regions of Umbria, Puglia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia etc.


Lisa Perrotti-Brown - Wine Advocate - Lisa lives in Napa, and she is always tasting wines from the valley. She knows all the latest trends and is not afraid to call out wineries who skipped a step. In recent years she has called out some big wineries over smoke taint. Her opinions tend to be unbiased and unlike some, she judges the wines from a technical standpoint and not from her own taste.

Other names who I follow:

Burgundy Al - Cellar Tracker - Drinks 80% Burgundy and I will often look at his thoughts on a wine, before purchasing it. Note: His scores tend to be lower than most.

Jancis Robinson - Her books are world known, and this is her strength

Vinous - Their maps are fantastic and I don't believe there are better wine maps in the world today. Especially Napa.

Verve Wine - Technically a wine shop run by a Master Sommelier, however I am often looking on their website to find the latest trends and producers to look out for.

There is a chance I have missed certain wine critics, if so, I have either little knowledge of them, or I find their tasting notes to be more about their taste rather than an unbiased technical view on the wine. I will also not mention those who purposely inflate their scores to gain world wide attention. I never follow these critics, since when every wine is graded from 95-100 points, well what is the point.

So my current paid subscriptions are: Wine Advocate and Decanter (Which I will probably cancel after Bordeaux En-Primeur 2020). Wine Spectator I have recently cancelled, their reports are often published too late, for example they have only just start talking about Burgundy 2018 this year, when most are already talking about Burgundy 2019! They tend to be a year behind everyone else.

Who is your favourite wine critic?

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