Allen Meadows signing books for fans during his visit to Hong Kong in April 2013.
Who are the critics?
We reference the following critics on our website:
Allen Meadows of Burghound.com (BH) [100 point system]
Allen Meadows writes all the reviews for Burghound.com and is considered the most trustworthy reference on Burgundy. He doesn't use a plethora of obscure adjectives to describe a wine, and instead likes to talk about textures and balance—when explaining his score system, he told us that, “I want people to be saying ‘Damn this is good’ by 90 points. 95 points is ‘on your knees’ good.”
Jancis Robinson (JR) [20 point system]
As one of the most experienced Master of Wines in the world, Jancis Robinson is hugely respected. She is quite conservative with her points, and usually anything deemed '16.5' and up is quite good.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar (IWC) [100 point system]
One of the best reviews with two main critics: Stephen Tanzer and Josh Raynolds. We find their scores usually very fair, and their descriptions are typically accurate and modest. This was acquired by Vinous Media in 2014.
Robert Parker (RP) of The Wine Advocate (WA) [100 point system]
Robert Parker is the man who invented the whole '100 point system' with his original magazine called The Wine Advocate. He has easily been the industry's most famous figure for decades, although he has always faced criticism for favouring 'powerful' wines. Many other critics contribute to The Wine Advocate, although they can be referenced under the abbreviations (RP) instead of (WA). We trust the work of their Rhone, Italy, Chablis, Languedoc, and Champagne critics such as Jeb Dunnuck (formerly of The Rhone Report), David Schildknecht, and Antonio Galloni (now of Vinous).
Jeb Dunnuck of The Rhone Report (RR) [100 point system]
Jeb Dunnuck used to have his own newsletter called The Rhone Report, which posted excellent reviews on the wines of the Rhone. As of April 2013, he covers the Rhone (both North and South), Southern France, Washington, and California's Central and South Coasts for The Wine Advocate.
Antonio Galloni of Vinous (AG) [100 point system]
Antonio Galloni was previously the Italy, Chablis, Champagne, and Burgundy reviewer for Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate from 2006-2013. He left in 2013 and started Vinous, where he continues his excellent work there. One of the best in the business, although a touch liberal with his points.
Wine Spectator (WS) [100 point system]
Wine Spectator is one of the most esteemed and popular wine magazines in the world. It was founded in 1976 and has featured a number of very respected wine critics. Their points are typically from 85-100, and while 88-91 points are deemed good, usually 92-100 are considered excellent wines.
Wine Enthusiast (WE) [100 point system]
Wine Enthusiast is another one of the large wine magazines with a huge circulation around the world. Only wines 80 points and higher are scored, although many wines tend to veer towards the higher end of the spectrum.
Eric Asimov of The New York Times (NYT) [4 star system]
Although Eric Asimov is one of the most respected wine critics in the world, very few people quote his scores, especially as he uses the vague 4 star system, where 1* means 'passable', 2* means 'very good', 3* means 'excellent', and 4* means 'extraordinary'. Still, he is our favourite wine writer, and reports weekly on top wines from various regions around the world.
What are critics good for?
With so many professional critics in the world it is always difficult to know who to trust or what the scores actually mean. How can one wine receive 89 points from 'Critic A' for example, and then receive 94 points from 'Critic B'? After all, doesn't that only prove that nobody can really decide what is "good wine"?
While it is true that everyone has their own opinions, most professional critics are honestly quite good at being neutral and looking at the overall quality of the wine. They seek out good balance between alcohol, fruit, tannin, and acidity, and then reward higher points for special traits they find attractive in a wine. Therefore if you eventually find a critic whose tastes seem to align with yours, follow their recommendations!
Our point of view
One of our aims with Cork Culture is to get people interested in wines that aren't exactly well-known or critically acclaimed. We discourage buying solely based on a high score, although as you may have noticed we do post a wine's scores if they have them, mainly to offer a reassurance about our wine's quality. All critic scores are not equal, and for example it is much harder to achieve 90 points from Burghound than it is to get 90 points from The Wine Advocate. Ultimately though, even if a wine is 94 points you may not like it as much as a wine with "only" 89 points, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.