Jancis Robinson

so I’m looking for a new critic to read. Someone who has reviews the major regions of France and Italy. Also someone who has a database for older vintages. Anyone here have an opinion of Jancis ? Is her work consistent ? Any pros or cons would be appreciated. If someone is going to discuss how they don’t like/need/read critics, please discuss this elsewhere.

She’s one of the few I trust.

Are you looking for a new critic to read, or a new wine publication to read? If you’re more/also interested in a wine publication, I’d heartily recommend The World of Fine Wine.

I like Jancis a lot, but my familiarity is through her books on wine, not wine reviews per se.

Is there a sample issue online anywhere to get a feel ?

Just go to her website. There are plenty of free articles.

I saw an interview of her by Gary Vaynerchuk (Episode #568). She seemed very nice.

I subscribe to Jancis. There are some very interesting articles available, some free and some for subscribers only and the wine ratings are more conservative than you might find at WA or even WS. Also you need to get comfortable with a 20 point rating scale. I haven’t found any ratings above 18.5, although there may actually be some I haven’t come across. She and her raters tend to align more with the AFWE than Parker but they are not overboard in that direction. My impression is that they might align with many on this board who say they are AFWEs but are really looking for structure and balance but don’t mind full flavored, bigger wines as long as they meet the criteria of structure and balance.

I find her articles occasionally interesting, her books more interesting, and her tasting notes maddeningly internally inconsistent, for example calling a wine round and supple and angular all in the same note. I wouldn’t use her for buying advice.

I’ve known Jancis and Nick (who writes about restaurants) for many years. I don’t consider her a wine critic per se, but she does publish lots of tasting notes. The list of books she has been involved with is pretty impressive:
Oxford Companion to Wine, editor
World Atlas of Wine, with Hugh Johnson
Wine Grapes, with two others…an amazing book
American Wine, with Linda Murphy
and many others

Presently I subdcribe to Tanzer but to be honest I’m not really happy there. I find his notes a little bland and non specific. I want my reviewer to take a stand. There is also a lack of vintage depth from him. Does she publish notes from most areas ?

I recently decided not to renew my Tanzer subscription, mainly because I can’t tell when he really likes a wine vs. when it’s simply a ‘correct’ wine to his palate. I appreciate that his scores are a bit more conservative but his notes rarely express enthusiasm and, consequently, I almost never decide to go out and try something on the basis of his review.

Yes, she has tasters for most of the wine world but is a bit Eurocentric overall. She doesn’t seem to have enough to adequately cover all of the US however.

I hadn’t noticed this tendency in her notes but I also read more of the notes from her staff than just from her.

You may want to consider Antonio Galloni’s Vinous:

He has very thorough coverage of Italy and Burgundy and will be adding other regions of France soon.

What about John Gilman? I find him quite consistent.

What’s the scoop on the expanding coverage of France at Vinous, Ken?

For me Jancis isn’t a critic. She’s a fine writer and worthwhile to read, but even with her books, she has a lot of help. That’s not a criticism, why try to write about a subject you know little about when you can get an expert to write for you? The current reviewer of Spanish wine for the Wine Advocate wrote for her prior to moving to the WA. She doesn’t pay much. So if you liked “her” reviews of Spain, you’ll like the WA reviews of Spain.

Jancis is a very typically British wine writer IMO. She has an expectation of what things should be, she drinks by label, and she talks about the wine as a good or bad example of itself. She’s not particularly interested in blind tasting.

As a critic I don’t find her very useful at all. As a wine writer she’s very useful. I even have some of her books.

But I’m one of those who doesn’t particularly care about what a critic says. I get to taste enough wine that I’m not interested in someone else’s opinion of them. That said, there are some careful tasters who write well. If you’re interested in Spain, depending on how good your Spanish is, read www.verema.com. There are many really knowledgeable posters on that site. There are a few specialized sites in German and Hungarian too. Unfortunately I can’t read them!

Regarding France and Italy, that’s harder. Joe Cz covers the Rhone for Wine Enthusiast and he’s not bad, but that’s obviously only one region in France. If you like Galloni, he still covers Italy, but I think his scoring has become a bit like Suckling’s.

Believe it or not, some of the retailers are probably better reviewers than many people whose job is writing about wine. Dan Posner’s email blasts are very often spot-on regarding a wine and the current reviews of it.

Ken, if you haven’t seen it, you and others might enjoy the interview with Fox News where Galloni discusses his new Interactive map of Italy. He tweeted the following: “great to talk Barolo and interactive maps w/ @tracybyrnes Vinous Media's virtual wine tours are the next best thing to being there | Fox News @VinousMedia



What I like about Gilman is that he isn’t afraid to tell you what he really thinks, and you aren’t left wondering if he actually likes a wine or a winemaking style. My limited exposure to Galloni is that he seems to be way too positive about too many wines. I prefer reviews and reviewers that have the ability to critique and be critical.

I’ve had the pleasure of being at the same table as John Gilman for dinner twice or thrice, and I’d bump into him most every time I attended Vinexpo in Bdx. Very polite, friendly, and well-spoken fellow in my experience - very knowledgeable without coming off as pedantic, and has a charm such that he can discuss the weaknesses of a wine/wines without upsetting (as far as I could tell) the normally sensitive Bordeaux ITBers.