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Paid subscriptions to wine websites


#21

Great topic, @Mooble.

Over the years I’ve dipped in and out of subscriptions. Robert Parker was the obvious one for me about 10-15 years ago, I suppose for the sheer breadth and the wonderful level of detail, and the rating consistency, even if I disliked or disagreed with the system. But I abandoned that after the descriptions became too annoying and the influence of the man began to distort the entire world of winemaking. I also once subscribed to James Halliday and then didn’t renew because of the ridiculous levels of grade inflation, and the overexcited descriptions of often merely generic and boring wines. And that’s just Australia. I also subscribed to the excellent Burghound (in spite of the simply shocking website design and user interface) because Allen Meadows is such a passionate writer and I love Burgundy. But I can’t afford the wines really, so it’s a lot of investment in time and energy and money when I only really buy a few cases EP a year in a good year. But for big spenders and Burgundy lovers, I would say Burghound is an essential subscription.

For me, the two most valuable subscriptions are Wine-Searcher Pro and Jancis Robinson. Wine Searcher is in my view completely indispensable. I use it every single day several times, including the app, and wouldn’t really know what to do without it. It lets me compare, check, buy, read reviews, learn, connect regions, grapes, vintages and sellers quickly and painlessly. It’s the only way to track down old vintages and see who’s selling them. Jancis has grown on me massively as a taster. I used to find her descriptions aloof and idiosyncratic, and preferred the torrent of adjectives in the American Parker-Suckling tradition because it’s easier to visualise the actual taste in the mind’s eye (smell it in the mind’s nose?). But the truth is, Jancis is a fantastic, fearlessly independent taster, and her team is just as good. And they all respect the integrity and restraint of the 20-point system, and studiously avoid grade inflation. So on the Jancis website not only do I get these superb tasting notes and consistent, careful scores, but also excellent content about regions, varieties, vintages and so on. And unlike Decanter and Wine Spectator and so on, no annoying ads.

Oh, I would add another one: Tim Atkin. I’m a huge fan. I don’t think you can subscribe to his site (it’s free), but his reports on regions and vintages are essential purchases and I would strongly recommend buying 2-3 a year. At about £20 each they’re fantastic value. You just pay and download. http://www.timatkin.com/reports

So that would be my ha’penny’s worth on this topic.


#22

I completely agree, he’s extremely thorough , I’ve purchased his Rioja and Burgundy this year :+1:


#23

Glad I’m not the only one! They’re just so clear and well-written and unlike American reports, they’re not written for rich people - they’re for the ordinary (well, OK, obsessed) consumer, and they’re not patronising or pretentious. They’re straightforward but really really thorough.


#24

I subscribe to The Wine Doctor - https://www.thewinedoctor.com - because I have a particular interest in the wines of Bordeaux which is one of its specialisms (along with the wines of the Loire Valley). It has a treasure trove of information including full histories and up-to-date details with lots of vintage notes.


#25

Hi, Mooble,

Jancis Robinson’s site is really comprehensive, plus you have full online access to the Oxford Companion of Wine. It’s great for anyone doing wine exams in particular. WSET Dilpoma students get a 30% discount for the first year.

I subscribe to Decanter but intend to stop that soon. Since they introduced another layer, Decanter Premium, it seems that anything I want to read is actually behind that paywall. I know a lot of people are disgruntled by this. Now on their website they have also added in cringey trashy clicbait advertising, which turns me off completely.


#26

I totally agree, BargainBob


#27

@Sorcha @Bargainbob

As someone who scours the web for information, Decanter has lost its way.
But worse than that, they dispensed with the services of J L-L who had served them so well for eons.
And the replacement has demonstrated a singular lack of detailed knowledge on the subject.
Hey Ho, a new broom and all of that!!
It is impossible these days to keep a lid on information, publish behind a paywall and before you know the essence of what was said if available for all to see. I am impressed how posters will spend many hours or companies do the same to get the info “out there!”
Scores are interesting by themselves but the accompanying description adds the perspective and colour to the number, so that for once the equation 1 + 1 = 3 (LOL) really does work.


#28

Ive had subscriptions to Decanter mag, Wine-Searcher pro ( when I was trading and Terre de Vins.

If you are well into the Sud de France “thing”, I really recommend 'Terre de Vins" . €35 for 12 issues… It serves to remind me how lazy I am with language skills but is a wonderful source of many aspects of Sud de France.


#29

Can anyone tell me what the advantage of Wine Searcher Pro is over the free version? I can get pretty much all I need on UK stockists through a combination of the free Wine Searcher app and Vivino.

The only paid website I subscribe to is Jancis. My palate seems to align with hers more than others. I also hugely admire her as a writer and journalist! She seems to have real integrity.


#30

The free version only includes merchants that pay wine-searcher for being listed. So it could be veiwed as a form of advertising, albeit one that is useful to the user.

The pro version lists all the merchants that make their data available. No money is taken from these “extra” merchants, but the users pay for this service.

Thus you get a lot more prices listed with the pro version, and
smaller and more specialist merchants. There may be other advantages too, but they are not important to me.


#31

Well if you are into riesling, and everybody says they are ! then for a freebie http://www.moselfinewines.com/ is very good, not the easiest site to navigate and much is downloadable in PDF format.
But it is detailed and bang up to date as to what is going on in Germany, I use it quite a bit, but then I buy riesling.


#32

Oh yes, Mosel Fine Wines is good


#33

Another vote here for Jancis Robinson and Wine-Searcher Pro. I think Wine-Searcher Pro pays for itself by stopping me from overpaying fir wines - I check the price of almost every potential purchase and it’s also useful to see whether an older (an ready to drink) vintage of a wine is in fact better value than the current release. Jancis Robinson because I love the style of writing and the dry sense of humour (Jancis’s as well as most of her team’s), the site offers a wealth of information and is geared towards pointing where to find value.


#34

I have subscribed to Jancis Robinson for over 10 years. Her tasting notes seem to align with my tastes in most cases, and if you read the words carefully, she doesn’t pull her punches, but in a diplomatic way usually.

With all the other information on the site, I haven’t felt the need to go elsewhere for paid info. I read Tom Canavan as well though.


#35

That reminds me of one of my favourite put-downs of a certain style of wine: Michael Broadbent’s “impressive”.


#36

Elitistreview.com is free so I guess it’s off topic.


#37

Huge fan of Elitist Review. Full disclosure: David Strange, the author, is a very dear friend of mine. But we actually became friends because I wrote to tell him how much I admired his website; so I’m not praising his website because he’s a friend, he’s a friend because I think his website is worth praising. Nobody writes like him, nobody - he has immense tasting talent, and a style unmatched by any wine writer for its sheer adjectival effervescence. He’s mostly partial to Burgundy (and other Pinot if it’s very good), Riesling, Champagne, Bandol and Northern Rhône, and he’s hilariously scathing about Bordeaux. An absolute must-read. And you’ll all be pleased to know, a long-standing and loyal member of the Society.


#38

I enjoy the above site too. My only complaint is that the articles are too few and far between. I go on it regularly, but on most visits the content is unchanged.


#39

You are quite right, this is a site that until recently I had no idea existed, it is not prolific but makes up for that with the pieces that are published, a very good read, his recent piece on JJ Prum was as spot on as far as I am concerned, well worth a look.


#40

The author suffers from a complex interlocking matrix of mental and physical conditions, some very severe, so posting a review is a often a major feat of endurance for him. Hence the occasional lapses in fresh content. I recommend signing up to his newsletter on order to get prompted every time he writes a new piece. It’s pretty much the funniest and wittiest wine writing out there.