Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar

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We are excited to welcome back wine critic Stephen Tanzer, Editor and Publisher of the highly acclaimed bimonthly publication, International Wine Cellar an independent wine journal founded in 1985. The IWC is read by wine professionals and wine lovers alike, and was the first American wine periodical to be translated into French and Japanese.

Tanzer samples and reviews over 10,000 wines annually, spending several months on the road each year tasting with winemakers and winegrowers from the world’s most important wine-producing regions. His depth of coverage is considerable, and he has consistently spotted the emerging superstar producers on five continents. With his recent book (Oct 2006), “The WineAccess Buyer’s Guide: The World’s Best Wines and Where to Find Them” Tanzer recommends the best wines from the top producers and regions, creating what might be the ultimate buying tool for wine drinkers.

More Information:

International Wine Celler: www.internationalwinecellar.com
Buy the Book NowWineAccess Buyers Guide
Buy the Report NowInternational Wine Cellar

Previous Interview:

Show 49 – Part 1
Show 50 – Part 2

Sponsor: Wine Away, Red Wine Stain Remover: www.wineaway.com

Click Below to Play the Show:

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Show #143
(1:06:54 min 28 MB)

13 Responses to “Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar”


  1. 1 DanPearson Apr 24th, 2007 at 7:11 am

    I always find it interesting hearing from a wine reviewer like Steven Tanzer. These guys really do have a lot of power to influence wine prices and set trends in the wine industry.

    It is very fascinating how he and other critics differ. It seems to me that he is a much tougher grader /; scorer then some of his counterparts at other publications. I am curious as to what other people think about his scores vs RMP vs WS. – Dan

  2. 2 GrapeRadio Bunch Apr 24th, 2007 at 8:32 am

    I agree he seems to score lower than other critics. But do you feel that means he is tougher? My gut says you are correct, but I am not so sure you can make that assumption.

    Jay

  3. 3 timmeranda Apr 24th, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I’ve done a statistical evaluation of another famous wine critic, whose data base is a bit more user friendly than Mr. Tanzer’s , and discovered that there are massive anomalies at the 89/90 point juncture, as well as the 94/95 and the 99/100 points in the scale. It seems he too is aware of the consequences of a lower score at these critical points. In fact the rarest score of all is a 99 not a 100! When in doubt they always score up. Your point that the 100 point scale implies a level of discrimination that does not exist is well taken. At best, humans can discern 5 to 7 levels of graduation.

  4. 4 Andy Cheese Apr 24th, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    I would like to see more of the low scores published. i am not that interested in wines of over 90 points as they are too difficult to find and too expensive mostly. It is more important to me not to buy a stinker of a wine. Why are these top reveiwers not publishing more of the bad scores ? Are they afraid of annoying the producers who they may rely upon to be allowed to taste their top wines ?

  5. 5 Stephen Tanzer Apr 26th, 2007 at 7:50 am

    I’ll leave opinions on whether I’m a tough scorer up to readers of my publication. I prefer to think that I’m just one of the last critics not to engage in grade inflation. I don’t think it’s constructive to call very good but essentially generic and interchangeable wines “outstanding,” and that’s what other critics do when they hand out 90+ scores to new wines without track records. A 90-point rating should have meaning. Some critics give out 95 points or more to extreme wines that are quite likely to flatten out or fall apart in bottle after four or five years. This sends the wrong message to producers, and it sets up consumers for disappointment. To suggest that a 16% Australian shiraz made from desiccated grapes and with alcohol of 16.5% is worth seven or eight more points than any vintage of Chambolle-Musigny Villages ever made by Christophe Roumier is just nonsense. And too many consumers swallow this nonsense. This is not to say that many consumers don’t get great pleasure from this style of wine–and I think wine should ultimately be about pleasure. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to tell International Wine Cellar subscribers that it merits 98 points.

  6. 6 Andrew Hall May 1st, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Very interesting interview with Steve. I listened to it while walking to a seminar about statistical analysis of sensory data. While it is primarily directed at the industrial food industry, I am always tempted to apply some of the methods to the various wine critics as well as the results from wine judging in which I participate.

    I also thought this was one of the better Grape Radio episodes since all of you clearly felt more comfortable w/ Steve than the previously and than other guests and actively engaged him a dialogue rather just scripted questions.

    What I most wanted to follow up on was a comment by one of the hosts about the barriers to entry into the wine writing field :

    I think you ishould nterview John Gilman, publisher of “View from the Cellar.” John has a good track record in the industry and started a newsletter a little over a year ago. His focus is both new releases and deep retrospectives/histories which virtually no one else is doing. Not only would an interview be interesting solely from a wine POV, but he could provide a great deal of insight into the travails of starting into wine writing.

    Thanks,

    A.

  7. 7 paul r May 16th, 2007 at 5:07 am

    i think steve is an “awesome” guest. i think his opinions are sound, his tasting notes great, and there is a consistency to what he does. i subscribe to his service, and i think he makes a great interview.

    with regards to some of the comments in the interview. i think that subscribers that want steve to raise his score to get more awareness of steve in the marketplace is perhaps, a tad, misguided. first, there already is a great awareness of steve in the marketplace, and second, his scores can/do move prices; so why would you want him to raise prices on wines he and you like? his scores are consistent, his tasting notes informative, and he attempts to keep a distance with the producers whose wines he reviews.

    in reference to new critics just out there and starting to write their own wine reviews, they do exist. and the better ones will rise to the top. it was a very disheartening day for me when antonio galloni took a job with robert parker. at the time, he was not a very well known critic, but one whose palate i found comparable with mine. i was able to buy wines he rated highly easily…. now, he moves prices and supply. i’m very happy for him, as he provided me a great base of information on an area i love, but i’m sad for me and my pocketbook…

    GREAT SHOW.

  8. 8 GrapeRadio Bunch May 16th, 2007 at 6:30 am

    How are things shaking Paul? We realy do need to drink some wine together.

    I was the one that raised the point about scores and public awareness of the critic. I did not suggest he should raise a score for that purpose. We all know a score of 99 pts will be quoted by everyone. By quoting the score, they also, in a subtle way, advertise the critic. Thus, if a critic wanted attention, that would be one way to do it. And in case we forget, they are running a business and they are trying to make a profit. More quoting of a critic score has the potential to add subscribers and profit. So I was trying to acknowledge that as a motivating factor. I was not suggesting that a critic should act upon that motivating factor. As a matter of fact, since Steve is such a hard scorer, it seems to be evidence that he has not succumbed.

    The bigger name critics are less likely to score wines for self promotion. However, i wonder about some of the newbies being vulnerable to such motivations.

    Jay

  9. 9 Phillip Jun 1st, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Wine critics do a fantastic job. Collectively, they wade through hundreds of thousands of wines every year, and distill each to a quickly comparable snippet of information. They carefully train their palettes to endure 12 hour days of continuous tasting (trust me, it’s hard work and quickly grows boring) and do their best to strip out emotion from the taste of the wine itself.

    However, they don’t know you. They don’t know that you find California Chardonnay over-oaked and overbearing, or that you find Australian Shiraz the most tasty thing ever. They are forced to evaluate a wine based on its ‘tipicity’ (how much it tastes like what it’s supposed to).

    You and I are unlikely to care if a wine is typical of a region or type. We’ll either like it or not – the rest is irrelevant. Personally, I’m not much of a fan of New World Sauvignon Blanc (too grassy), so an atypical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is probably more to my liking than a typical one.

    There’s a real danger in taking a single critics score at face value. A 93 point wine from Robert Parker means that HE felt it was worth 93 points, not that you will. I listened to an interview with Steve Tanzer the other day and was really pleased to hear that he didn’t like the 100 point scale (too gradated, implying a precision that doesn’t exist in rating wine) and that he felt that consumers should not simply look at a single critics wine’s rating and that they needed to read the reviews to understand the wine itself.

    Obviously, we don’t all have enough time to research all the detail about a wine that we’d like, and I hope this is where Snooth can help. We’re bringing in data from hundreds of sources (wineries, importers, critics, distributors, wine awards etc) and allowing users like you and I to add our own 2 cents. In aggregate, this data has real value to everyone and will make your search for wine that much simpler and more successful.

  10. 10 Dan Sullivan Feb 17th, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I have the following bottles that I would like to sell to the highest bidder. Is there a web site that I can research the price of these bottles of wine? Also other then eBay is there a web site that I can post these bottles to get top dollar?

    Thank you for your help,

    Dan

  11. 11 GrapeRadio Bunch Feb 17th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Dan,

    Research the bottles prices at http://www.wine-searcher.com

    Also you can sell the wines at http://www.winecommune.com or http://www.winebid.com

    Brian

  1. 1 Winecast - A wine blog and podcast pingback on May 29th, 2007 at 4:46 pm
  2. 2 Tanzer On Wine Ratings » Minnesota Realty Blog n News pingback on Jul 3rd, 2007 at 3:57 pm

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GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

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