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Reviewers turned reviewees


I don’t pay for content but sometimes look at the websites of Jamie Goode, Tim Atkin and the Jancis Robinson free pages. No transparency there, that I can see.

I’m not sure your point about print media is correct since people getting a free holiday in exchange for an article usually declare it. And wine writing and travel journalism have a lot in common.


There is a semantic difference between the words ‘criticise’ and ‘critique’.

I prefer the word ‘critique’, which isn’t so loaded with negativity.


Jancis may not comment in each article, but her policy on wine-writing ethics is laid out here, and I am sure she is meticulous about it

I don’t really know much about Tim Atkin, but of course if he doesn’t mention some freebie maybe he wasn’t.

I don’t read a lot of print articles now. You might be right, but it is not what I remember.


I have personal dealings with all the major writers in the UK - to my knowledge and in my experience all are transparently scrupulous in their dealings with wine merchants and growers. Mostly they only mention wines they like (they’d never have enough time to do anything if they talked about the wines they don’t like, as they will outweigh the liked). Some talk about them warts and all (e.g. Jancis), some are very vocal about how ethical they need to be (e.g. Jamie Goode), some are careful not to highlight wines where they have a vested interest (e.g. Will Lyons in The Sunday Times, who works for BBR, and indeed the late Edmund Penning -Rowsell who, during the time his 23 years as FT wine critic overlapped with his 23 years as The Society’s chairman, never mentioned a Society-stocked wine own ).

Their reputations as (generally) self-employed experts are too valuable for them to receive any negative PR.

Of the many wine communicators I deal with, I only recognise A and C. Their palates are their palates, their scruples are their scruples. Follow the person whose palate seems most in tune with yours and/or whose wine language you enjoy and you can’t go very wrong.

EDIT: Don’t get me wrong, I am very aware of other types on the list - they do exist, it’s just that we’ve weeded them out and don’t deal with them any more.


I quite like the policy of avoiding negative criticism. It can be very refreshing to know that a publication or writer is only going to write about what he can be positive about. For many years I subscribed to a literary journal called The Believer which followed this philosophy. Nick Hornby used to (possibly still does) contribute a book review page which was always a refreshing read because of its relentless positivity (I recommend the book collections since published of these reviews).


An interesting contribution with more detail if you follow the links.


so the lack of a review is at least as if not more telling than an endorsement?


Do we want the list with names? If you are too lazy to follow RH’s links…

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters


Not really. The lack of a review could mean that the reviewer did not like the wine, or it could be that they never got round to tasting it. So if I am considering buying the wine I am missing some information. That is why I think negative reviews should be published.

Let me qualify that… I would not enjoy reading hatchet-job reviews, but it is quite possible to indicate displeasure briefly and politely. It would help also if reviewers adopt a humble tone, especially with bad reviews. Reviewers should offer opinions, not hand down judgements on tablets of stone, expecting their word to determine the fate of the winemaker.

But doing that is not easy if you have met the winemaker, however briefly, and even if you did not receive “hospitality”. I know because I felt I needed to say bad things about some wines a few days ago. Here are the negative comments I put on my blog…

“To be honest, I am afraid to say I did not like these wines very much. I found the XXXXXXXXX wines to be out of balance, in that they were too alcoholic for the body and aromatics. And the YYYYYYYYYYY, although it had developed some interesting Riesling-like petrol notes, was a little musty. But I am a big believer in the subjectivity of wine appreciation, and my wife, whose opinions I respect, thought the wines were good. Maybe my palate was having an off-day.”

I am not sure how carefully the winemaker read my post, but he did “like” it when I shared it on Facebook.


I can see and understand the dilemma wine critics/reviewers face, but by only publishing varying shades of positive reviews it does somewhat make a mockery of the whole concept of an independent “reviewer”. They are, in effect, just a part of the PR process for producers. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong in that, and I applaud those that are transparent. Their relative scores for different wines will be useful to readers who follow individual or preferred critics, but as an objective concept it renders it meaningless. A bit like wine scores on the 1-100 scale, when did you last see something under say 70?

For a consumer who comes across a wine that isn’t rated - does it mean it’s a duffer or just untasted by the “pros”?! Personally, I tend to ignore the majority of reviews and employ a caveat emptor approach to my wine buying. If I buy a duffer it’s nobodies fault but mine, and I learn a little more along the way in my journey of wine appreciation. The price paid is worth it for my own education; and I’d rather do that than pay to subscribe to an individual reviewers views.

Having said that, I subscribe to Decanter magazine - so, guilty as charged :flushed:


And there I was thinking Suckling was just good at reciting the numbers from 93-100… Turns out someone thinks he’s good at tasting, too. Though I must say I have quite a lot of time for anyone who gives Jeff Leve a damning score.


93, that low !


I have said similar before on another thread, but the only difference between a wine critic and a critic of anything else is the subjectiveness of wine tasting, but that subjectiveness is also an easy way out of describing a wine that you really do not think is very good, weasel words come into play “I detected a slight” slot in appropriate word rather than telling it how you see it, so we come full circle and the amateur reviewer on cellartracker does tell it as he sees it and the pros say he doesn’t know what he is talking about ! there is still an awful lot of pomposity about in the wine world.


Speaking of wine critics and wine professionals, can someone please have a word with Joe Fattorini about his wardrobe, he’s in love with beige trousers and checked shirts… ALWAYS checked shirts…:joy:.
I know it doesn’t affect his professional ability but for some reason it kind of bothers me…:sweat_smile:


Nowt wrong with either, but when you put these two together I kind of see what you mean…also why is he trying to emulate the Manx emblem there? Or possibly Eric Morecambe?


A new article from the same website slightly related…

For full disclosure, I found the link in a Neal Martin tweet.


For French readers


Really interesting article, particularly in that it mentions “word on the grapevine”. Earlier in the year, there were mass unfollowings from his Instagram due to his continued plagiarism of others writings . He apologised and said he wouldn’t do it again. However it has continued . Yesterday saw a twitter debate with Jamie Goode who again called him out of rippling bloggers off . Today this has been posted ;

Interesting when he says he will stop writing, blogging… I’m sure some of the content was his own, however a large proportion was not .