The 5 Most Powerful Wine Critics
Learn more about the most important wine influencers...
The 5 most powerful wine critics
At RareWine Invest we strive to provide top-notch investment information and help our investors to make well-informed investment decisions. Among our sources are the most influential wine critics. We use the evaluations and scores of the vintages as a part of our investment recommendations.
Below we present 5 of the wine critics often used and how to read and understand their scores. Feel free to visit the critic’s website and stimulate your knowledge and curiosity about wine and wine for investment. And do not miss relevant news, analytics, investment tips and upcoming releases on RareWine Invest news.
Wine is most often scored on a scale from 50 to 100 points, while some others use the 20 points score, ranging from 10 or 12 to 20 points. Decanter have published a conversion scheme translating between the two systems. It is not an exact science, but it is further complicated by some critics being more generous with the points than others.
Before the wines are bottled, they get a pre-score – a so-called barrel score – while the wines are still developing in barrels. When the wines are bottled and released for the wine market, they are often reviewed again to set an in-bottle score. Every time a critic re-taste a specific wine, the new score is published and becomes the new benchmark score from the specific critic.
Most often at RareWine Invest, we use an average score based on the scores from the most important wine medias and critics when assessing a wine's investment potential in relation to the score.
Below you find a list of the most influential wine medias and critics as seen by RareWine Invest:
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (WA)Robert Parker’s Wine advocate (Wine Advocate in short) was founded in 1978 by Robert M. Parker Jr., who was a Cabernet-Sauvignon loving American lawyer who turned wine reviewer and founded the modern school of wine criticism, to which all wine critics owes their thanks.
His wine rating system, which introduced a scale from 50 to 100 points, has become the golden standard within the world of wine critics, and is used widespread by the most influential critics.
His influence on the wine industry has been enormous. Sometimes Robert Parker’s award of a 100 point score have turned things around overnight and changed the perception of specific wines forever, giving him almost god-like powers, when his reviews decided the faith and futures of winemakers. While Robert Parker has most certainly helped promote wine in general, some also say that his influence may have changed how some winemakers produced their wines to favor his taste, thereby streamlining a business that by most is still considered an art.
Despite having retired in 2019 at age 71, Robert Parker still remains one of the world’s most influential wine critics, and his scores are still cited today and used as a benchmark, even when he reviewed many years ago, and more recent reviews by other wine critics are available.
Wine Advocate is now in the hands of the Michelin guide, who acquired a 40% stake in 2017 and who become the sole owner in 2019, when Robert Parker retired. With no less than 10 full-time wine critics, each with its area of expertise, Wine Advocate lives on and remains one of the most important media within the wine industry.
The Wine Advocate is today led by Editor-in-Chief Joe Czerwinski. He leads a team of +10 critics, each responsible for different areas. Joe Czerwinski himself reports from Napa Valley, Australia, Rhone and more, while William Kelley is taking on more responsibility these years, reporting from both Burgundy and Bordeaux, as two mayor regions. Another important critic is Monica Larner, who has been responsible for Italy since 2013, resulting in a tremendous in-depth knowledge of this complicated wine country.
Bonus info: In 2000, it was revealed that Robert Parker had his nose insured for $1.000.000
RareWine Invest’s opinion
Being the cradle of modern wine criticism and having been important for more than 40 years Wine Advocate is the sun in the universe of wine reviewing. In the hands of the Michelin guide, they will remain a powerhouse also in the time after Robert Parker himself.
With Neal Martins move from Wine Advocate to Vinous in 2017 and Robert Parkers retirement in 2019, Wine Advocate does not currently have a superstar-reviewer, who itself is a name, and therefore we most often refer to Wine Advocate rather than the wine critic behind the score.
We take Wine Advocate evaluations and considerations – both the score and the written commentaries – into account when assessing the investment potential of almost any wine.
Vinous by Antonio Galloni (VI)
Following 7 years of service with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, where Antonio Galloni was in charge of Italian wines and Champagne, he founded Vinous in 2013. Neal Martin, Robert Parker’s second in command, was widely regarded as Wine Advocates crown-prince, made a surprising move when he quit Wine Advocate to move to Vinous in 2017 following the announcement of the Michelin Guides acquisition of 40% of Wine Advocate.
Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin are both among some of the world's most famous and influential wine critics, and together with Editor-in-Chief Stephen D. Tanzer and a handful of reviewers, they cover the world of wine on behalf of Vinous. Unlike the reviewers at Wine Advocate, who are very specialized, the critics at Vinous all cover a broader spectrum of wines.
Bonus info: Antonio Galloni was sued in 2013 by his former employer for making his personal reviews through his 7 years with Wine Advocate available on Vinous. The dispute was settled out of court.
RareWine Invest's opinion
Neal Martin and Antonio Galloni is a power couple, and together with Wine Advocate and James Suckling, Vinous is one of the world’s most influential wine media, and we use Vinous whenever we can when we assess the quality of investment wines.
James Suckling (JS)
The former Senior Editor and European Bureau Chief of Wine Spectator created Jamessuckling.com in 2010. He is one of the most experienced critics in the world and an excellent businessman, who have managed to balance his commercial interests with his integrity, allowing him to take wine criticism to new levels,
He is probably the most industrious wine critic and he claims to be tasting in excess of 25.000 wines annually. While all tasting notes are published as James Suckling’s own, he does however have a team of three persons around him, with whom he conducts the tastings.
Whether he personally tastes every wine that is reviewed on Jamessuckling.com or not, his hard work cannot be neglected. Together with his blessed tasting skills and his good business sense, this has led him to create a wine empire of his own in just 10 years, making him the single most influential wine critic in the world. James Suckling offers Masterclasses during wine-festivals held in his name while running a website full of articles in multiple languages when he is not giving his attention to his wine bar in Hong Kong, where he lives.
His style of preference is powerful reds, and his influence is notable especially when talking Italy and Bordeaux, but he literally tastes wines from all over the world, publishing individual vintage reports for most major wine-producing countries, including a lot of new world wine regions.
James Suckling is known for his generosity when scoring but has been accused of deliberately giving higher scores than his wine critic colleagues, thus creating more attention around his character, at the expense of the trustworthiness of the wine critics as a whole.
Bonus info: Living in Hong Kong and Being married to Korean-born Marie-Kim Suckling, who is also a wine professional, James Suckling has a particularly strong position in South-east Asia.
RareWine Invest's opinion
James Suckling’s scores have an ability to impact prices, which can only be compared to that of Robert Parker himself. Therefore, he should be taking very seriously, when looking at wines from an investment perspective, as long as one remembers to take his generosity when scoring into consideration.
Champagne Club by Richard Juhlin (RJ)
Champagne Club is made up of one person – The world’s most experienced champagne-drinker, Richard Juhlin. A Swedish champagne specialist and the author of seven books about champagne.
Richard holds the World record for most champagnes tasted by a single person, and his website currently holds reviews of more than 11.000 champagnes, making him the world’s leading champagne critic. As a modest Scandinavian, he is known for his reluctancy to award high scores unless the champagnes are truly monumental, and he has only given out a 100 point score once!
Bonus info: Richard Juhlin’s only 100 point score was awarded to 1928 Pol Roger Grauves Vinothèque at a tasting in Stockholm in March 2003.
RareWine Invest opinion
Richard Juhlin does not enjoy a lot of fame outside the champagne-community and his impact on prices is still not comparable to superstars like James Suckling, Neal Martin, and Antinio Galloni, but his scores have helped those investing in the past, making good profits in champagne.
We consider Richard Juhlin the important critic for Champagne and his reviews and scores are taken into great consideration when we deal with investment grade champagne.
Burghound by Allen Meadows (BH)
Allen Meadows, an early-retired finance executive, has been the one-man army of Burghound.com for 20 years. His in-depth non-commercial approach means that he is one of the most trustworthy independent sources for insight into the wines of Burgundy.
He operates alone with the help of his wife and son, who joined in 2011, and despite his limited resources, he has positioned himself as the world’s leading burgundy critic, who’s words and scores in recent years have moved prices in ways similar to those of the big boys, Parker and Suckling.
He is to Burgundy what Juhlin is to Champagne, but contrary to Juhlin, who is somewhat commercially oriented, Meadows scores can make prices move, without him even trying to make noise in a broader perspective.
Bonus info: Allen Meadows lives in the US, where he also reviews US pinot noirs but spends 5 months every year in Burgundy, during which he visits 300 domaines!
RareWine Invest's opinion
Allen Meadows is a very reliable source of knowledge and someone to pay attention to when assessing the quality of Burgundy wines. Unfortunately, the amount of wines that he can review is limited to his very person's time and ability, which is the only drawback.
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