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Wine Advocate is a serious magazine that looks more like a trade publication or hobbyist's classified page. There are no photographs, illustrations, advertisements, or lifestyle articles. Ever. It suits the magazine well, however, and no one ever levels the same criticisms that are hurled at Wine Spectator (e.g., advertising skews the ratings, numerous vapid articles). The beige pages are filled with enticing reviews and vintage summaries. His coverage of the Rhone region is unmatched and his coverage of the Bordeaux, while controversial, also seems accurate to me.
That said, there are a few myths. Parker himself claims that his 50 point system (which runs from 50-100) is better than the 20 point scale used in other publications (which run from 80-100, but are really more like 70-100). Having said that, no one really pays attention to anything less than an 80 in either system, and those with a good local store using the point system to choose a wine (simplistic and narrow-sighted, but common) won't consider less than an 86. Even so, I conducted a survey on the two web sites and Parker consistently rates more wines 95+, in some vintages up to three times as many (as a percentage of wines tasted), than Wine Spectator. I don't mind this at all, though, and find that my tastes match Parker's fairly consistently and that his descriptions use certain words as a tip off as to what I won't. Read more ›
Tempranillo (a dry red table wine)
The flagship offering, the 2001 Numanthia, is fashioned from a 70-100 year old Tinta de Toro vineyard planted at a 2300 foot elevation. After a 28 day maceration, the wine undergoes malolactic in barrel, is aged 19 months in new French oak, and is bottled without fining or filtration. The spectacular, opaque purple-colored 2001 offers an explosive nose of melted licorice, barbecue smoke, blackberries, creme de cassis, camphor, and graphite. Full-bodied with gorgeously rich, concentrated fruit, a layered texture, and tremendous purity, it can be drunk young, but should hit its prime in 1-2 years, and last for 10-15.
Wine Advocate includes info on U.S. importers, a rating, and an often unreliable estimated cost (especially "bargains" which tend to be affected by Parker's ratings). All in all, a set of information that's not available elsewhere, typically not even from a winemaker's web site, when there is one.
Parker is not the only taster. There's also Pierre Rovani and Daniel Thomases, who carve up the world by region. Parker seems to have dibs on my favorite regions: Chateauneuf and Hermitage in the Rhone, Toro and Ribera del Duero in Spain, and California Zinfandel. Read more ›
Both Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate have been criticized for writing too many superlative reviews of less than exceptional wines, but I feel that Parker and Wine Advocate are less guilty in that respect, even though, as a previous reviewer noted, he does put more wines in the coveted 95+ point range. Still, Wine Advocate does a far better job than Wine Spectator of placing wines and their ratings in perspective, and avoiding clichés such as "vintage of a lifetime" that the Spectator frequently falls prey to. I have found Parker and Wine Advocate to be superior to Wine Spectator in their coverage of Bordeaux, especially in my favorite sub-regions, Sauternes and Barsac.
My only major complaints about Wine Advocate is that Parker generally assumes that all of his readers can afford to pay the relatively high price for his publication (currently more than $12/issue on Amazon). There are many 90+ point wines available for the difference between the yearly costs of Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. Read more ›
The Wine Advocat is a valuable newsletter written by experts and helps you save money and time buying better wines by rating and reviewing... Read more