Which of the influential fine wine critics should investors be guided by? Just a few years ago, without hesitation, the critical opinion the wine world wanted was that of Robert Parker Jnr. The founder of The Wine Advocate’s palate not only moved markets in fine wine but actually influenced winemaker blends and vineyard plantings in some of the most revered wine estates in the world. His opinion helped develop a global profile for a number of the most iconic fine wine investment brands, Screaming Eagle probably the most famous.
Parker was the first to establish a scoring system that was understood and relied upon by the global fine wine trade and consumers. He published tasting notes and quality scores which ranked wines out of 100. Parker’s 100-point wines are highly prized and are considered as key investment wines.
ROBERT PARKER’S WINE SCORING SYSTEM:
|96–100||An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase and consume|
|90–95||An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.|
|80–89||A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws.|
|70–79||An average wine with little distinction except that it is a soundly made. In essence, a straightforward, innocuous wine.|
|60–69||A below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.|
|50–59||A wine deemed to be unacceptable.|
Parker’s phased retirement between 2016 and 2019 saw the introduction of The Wine Advocate’s specialists as some of the most important critics for fine wine investors today. Antonio Galloni, Lisa Perotti-Brown MW and Neal Martin have become three of a very small number of critical experts who command worldwide respect on their quality opinions of fine wine. Jancis Robinson MW and James Suckling are the other leading players with a number of critics enjoying growing profiles, including Monica Larner, Jeb Dunnuck, Jean-Marc Quarin, Julia Harding and HK’s Jeanie Cho-Lee.
Key fine wine critics for investors:
Antonio Galloni – Vinous.com
Born in Venezuela, Antonio Galloni grew up with wine and wrote his first articles on Burgundy and Bordeaux whilst still a teenager. A talented musician and composer he studied at Boston’s Berklee College of Music whilst still developing his passion for and knowledge of wine.
Following an MBA at MIT Sloan School of Management, an assignment in Milan provided the opportunity to build his portfolio of wine expertise, which included Napa and Tuscany by then, into Piedmont following which he published the Piedmont Report in 2004.
In 2006 he joined Robert Parker’s ‘The Wine Advocate’ as their Italian expert and in 2008 he also became responsible for Champagne. In 2013 Galloni established his own platform having retained the copyright for the content he published for The Wine Advocate and has grown vinous.com to rival The Wine Advocate as a source of information on fine wine.
Neal Martin – Vinous.com
British-born critic Neal Martin graduated from Warwick University with a degree in Management Science and started his working life with Lloyds of London. A move to Tokyo brought him into the world of wine with a Japanese export company. His role took him to the top vineyards in Europe and led to his completing the WSET’s highest qualification program.
Martin established the wine-journal.com in 2003 which rapidly attracted over 100,000 subscribers. Approached by Parker in 2006, he joined The Wine Advocate team and became their Bordeaux expert in due course. He published a book on Pomerol in 2012 and when Robert Parker retired from tasting the Bordeaux en primeurs in 2016, he appointed Martin as his successor for this responsibility for The Wine Advocate.
In late 2017, Martin joined Antonio Galloni at Vinous as Senior Editor. A Liv-ex poll of trade members voted Martin the most trusted fine wine critic on the Bordeaux en primeurs.
Lisa Perotti-Brown MW – The Wine Advocate / e-RobertParker.com
Lisa Perotti-Brown was born in rural Maine, USA and following a degree in English Literature and Performing Arts almost fell into the wine trade by accident, earning a living in a wine bar whilst a struggling playwright in London. Following a series of sales and marketing roles in wine she moved to Tokyo in 2002 and worked as a buyer for a top Japanese wine importer and an educator at the city’s Acadamie du Vin.
In 2008 she achieved her Master of Wine accreditation and Parker invited her to join The Wine Advocate team. She specialised originally in Australia and New Zealand wines for e-robertparker.com and is now the publication’s Editor-In -Chief and critic for Bordeaux, Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Further publications include her first book ‘Taste Wine Like a Wine Critic: A Guide to Understanding Wine Quality’.
Jancis Robinson OBE, MW, ComMA – jancisrobinson.com
With a career in wine which extends back over forty years, Jancis Robinson MW, OBE has been referred to as the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world and is widely published. Her books include The Oxford Companion to Wine and The World Atlas of Wine (co-authored with Hugh Johnson), she writes a wine column for the Financial Times, and other high-profile roles include providing expert advice for the selection and management of the wines for the cellar of HM Queen Elizabeth II. She has previously been responsible for wine selection for British Airways and the Concorde Luxury Cellar, produced a wine education series for BBC 2 and launched an online wine course ‘Mastering Wine – Shortcuts to Success’.
Robinson has a raft of awards to her name, not least her OBE granted in 2003, she has a stand-out reputation and established jancisrobinson.com which features a growing team of experts including Julia Harding MW. She was voted the world’s most influential wine critic in the USA, France and internationally in 2018.
Her scoring system is different from Parker’s more widely applied ranking out of 100 points, where Robinson marks wines out of 20 points.
JANCIS ROBINSON SCORING SYSTEM:
|18||A cut above superior|
|13||Borderline faulty or unbalanced|
|12||Faulty or unbalanced|
With both Parker and Robinson’s scoring systems the icons + or ++ denote where the critics feel there is the capacity for further quality improvement and these wines demand extra attention at the time of future rescores.
James Suckling – jamessuckling.com
James Suckling’s career in wine started with the American magazine, Wine Spectator as assistant editor in 1981. He established the European office for the publication in Paris in 1985 from where he expanded his knowledge and industry connections. His reputation grew to become recognised as one of the world’s most powerful fine wine critics.
In 2010, Suckling launched his own website and developed a 100-point scoring system similar to Robert Parkers.
Other key commentators, wine journalists and critics with growing profiles are looked to for opinions and further information on individual wines, vintages and regions. Consumers, collectors and investors have more information on fine wine today than ever before and through the internet this has become highly accessible. Ultimately, since Robert Parker’s retirement the critical opinions of the critics listed above are still probably the most trusted guide for wine quality.
For more information speak to a member of our expert team on 0203 384 2262.