Burgundy reviews: Who is the best?

If you could choose only one subscription to review and rate the wines of Burgundy, which would it be? Burghound, Tanzer, etc?

Which publications are worth it and which are not?


Lots of good options but my favorite is View from the Cellar by John Gilman because his newsletters are not just buying guides but interesting reading as well. Plus he shares my acid-loving palate. I suspect Claude Kolm does really well but Ive never got around to subscribing because he only accepts mailed checks and Ive procastinated doing so.

Most that respond to this post will likely say Burghound, however, I subscribe to BH, Gilman and Tanzer, finding that they seem to complement each other. I think it’s good to get more than one critic’s opinion. Of course the best review is your own, if you have the chance to taste the wines prior to purchase.

I think it also depends on your focus as a buyer. If you are devoting a substantial amount of your wine dollars to Burgundy purchasing, than Burghound’s focus on the area is probably right up your alley. I like Tanzer’s publication best, but that is because he covers many other areas that I am interested in as well, so my preference for him is not neccesarily related to Burgundy.

Just curious what makes you “suspect” that about Claude Kolm, Berry…

He’s been around a long time, but no one ever talks about him in the same breath as Burghound or Tanzer…or even Gilman. I have no idea why, and have never subscribed to him, and don’t know anyone who has…so, I’m curious why you say that?

Though I don’t subscribe, Gilman’s are by far the most interesting reading. The others are mostly tasting notes, which don’t really appeal to me at this stage, especially after the 2004 debacle where all the “tasters” blew it…didn’t find the problem (though some claim to have). It does make one question the value of tasting notes per se, at least in Burgundy.

Speaking of “acid”, I had a 2003 Dauvissat “Forest” the other night…and the low acidity in it is starting to create “issues”, as the alchohol is shining through the other elements to a noticeable degree, which doesn’t bode well for the future, as it will only get worse, IMO. Not bad wine, just not very balanced and atypical. I never liked that vintage, in either color, particularly white…and thought Dauvissat was a worthy purchase/exception. Maybe there were none.

Stuart, not to get too off-topic from the original question, but I couldn’t agree more about the 2003 whites. I was concerned about the heat in the vintage and limited my purchases accordingly, but I recently pulled a cork on a Raveneau Forets and had the same reaction you just posted - maybe there were no good wines (or at least chablis) produced in that vintage.

I think his posts here illuminate a deep understanding of the region

I love John Gilman for many reasons. My palate aligns with his and I love opinionated critics vs proponents of all styles or the ones that I call Special Olympics Critics, where everybody is a winner. While Burghound ratings usually align with hierarchy Gilman goes for whats in the glass and is known to give high scores to 1er cru wines. I find Tanzer very useful and experienced and I love Bruce Sanderson’s simple but yet precised reviews.
My wife has subscription to all of them and there’s a good information in all publication.

I’m with Berry on Claude Kolm, it seems that he knows his stuff, but I don’t know anybody who subscribes to his newsletter. I have never seen a single tasting note from him or gotten an email from a retailer quoting his tasting notes (and I got plenty where stores would quote posters from cellar tracker or a blogger I never heard of.) Is it due to his antiquated paying system, where you have to send a check or lack of confidence in his taste, I don’t know, but it can’t hurt to register for paypal. If nothing else it would save a trip to the bank.


Anyway, to answer the original question, Burgundy is one area where subscribing to any of these folks is utterly worthless. There are so many different things to choose from in Burgundy and everyone has their own preferences which are very personal. Figure out what does it for you and buy those wines every year no matter what the spitting oracles tell you.

Don’t you think there is utility in enjoying interesting writing or being alerted to new prodcuers? I’d agree though that Burgundy doesn’t lend itself well to following a critic for buying decisions.

Yes but it didn’t appear that was the question being asked here. The OP asked for recommendations for publications that “review and rate.”

Can’t think of any new producers I’ve heard about for the first time from a subscription publication. This board is a much better resource for that.

Do you actually subscribe to any though?

Agree that this board is great for that.

I’m a Gilman subscriber at the moment. I’ve had subscriptions to all the others at various points, but none anymore.

too extreme i think… a good reviewer provides knowledge and opinion, both of which can be useful when someone (experienced or not) is making choices on what to experiment with. now if the person has the resources and time to taste everything on their own, then of course that would be ideal…

Burghound. I think the breadth and depth of Allen Meadows’ knowledge of the vineyards’ histories, his foundation of tasting thousands of bottles of aged Burgundy, his great personal familiarity with current producers, and his passion for the subject are unrivaled.

I didn’t think that was the query on this thread. I thought it was whose reviews are “best” or “most valuable”.

Sure, he has that. So, do all of the people (including Parker) who’ve written on Burgundy and write on Burgundy, and many people who have never written and post here, and who don’t.

I think anyone going regularly to the region to taste (I certainly don’t and never have; it would be a formidable undertaking at the very least) have to have a “deep understanding of the region” to be able to provide any perspective. I also think that a “deep understanding” of the region is sort of an elusive concept for an outsider to it. That’s why I was so impressed with Jasper Morris’ book: though he lives there now, he is still and outsider, who seems to understand its history and its culture…vinous and otherwise…from the bottom up, which I think is a bit antithetical to the approach of most of the professional “taster-writers”, who are trying to discern and describe the top tip of the iceberg of producers for the most part.

One thing is for sure: I never envy what the “tasters” are doing when I read their stuff…year after year…tasting new wines en masse…and trying to write them up and make it all interesting. Gilman’s approach is a bit more interesting, at least, though I don’t look at him as a “taster” in the sense that Alan M., Tanzer, Clive, Parker (or whoever is doing his bidding at any particular time in the region) are. Having said that: Parker, Clive and Tanzer were of tremendous help to me in my early daze of visiting…and much later on Allen Meadows, too. They gave me a way to prepare or compare for what I was trying to do…on a hugely smaller scale: figuring out who were my “favorite” producers, which wines and which vintages. (I did find Clive of less and less value as the years went on…at least for me.)

At one point, I thought that Dauvissat largely escaped the issues of 2003: the heat, and particularly, the drought conditions. I still think he did as much as anyone did, but…I’m beginning to believe that no one really did. (I didn’t visit/taste any Raveneau, but…given their style, I wouldn’t have expected them to deal with things as well as Vincent Dauvissat would have.

who is best for what?
For history and background, Clive Coates was fabulous with The Vine, now no longer printed.
Both Meadows and Gilman have filled his shoes well.
For tasting and knowing who/what to buy, the answer depends on one’s palate–you have to try several wines that are poorly rated and highly rated to see if the reviewer’s palate allies with your own.
Clive was pretty useless for tasting notes–he was completely hierarchical (and therefore predictable).


Richard Jennings.