Burgundy visits – how much time does a critic take per domaine?

Coincidentally, two American critics are tweeting from their Burgundy visits right now. The critics are Antonio Galloni of Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate and John Gilman, who publishes The View from the Cellar. Galloni offered this information from his trip on Twitter:

Nine visits per day, needless to say, would equal about 30 – 45 minutes per visit. So I asked how much time he spends at each domaine. He replied, “depends on the # of wines, key is to have everything ready in advance, put visits close together.”

If he was tasting the Bourgogne-level wines, village wines, premier crus and grand crus (if any) for reds and whites, and for two vintages, that was a lot of swirling and spitting! I asked if he had sufficient time to evaluate the wines. He replied, “Sure thing. Tasted ’10 reds, plus selection of 09s, no whites.” Galloni had been to Burgundy twice prior to taking over coverage of the region earlier this year.

I saw John Gilman was also awake and tweeting, so I asked him how long he takes per stop while in Burgundy. He said, “Depends on the size of the cellar–Drouhin or Jadot count as 2 stops–average is 1.5 hours- I like to take time to talk w/ vignerons.” Then he added, “most I did on single day on this last trip was 6–3 in morning and 3 in afternoon–started a 8h00 & finished up at 19h00–exhausted.”

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19 Responses to “Burgundy visits – how much time does a critic take per domaine?”

  1. I was with John for part of the trip; the most I visited in a day was 5 (although that included a lineup at Drouhin that, as he noted, really counted as two), and that was a challenge even for him. I don’t believe it’s possible to visit 9 domaines in a day, especially if they’re opening 2009s, without really speed tasting and not hearing much about the vintage from the winemakers. Especially since most domaines won’t take appointments from noon to 2pm.

    It of course would be easier if samples had already been prepared as they were at a couple of the domaines we visited, but even so, I can’t imagine how he was able to reset his palate between wines and between visits on that type of schedule.

  2. It reminds me of some initial itineraries posted on travel fora, where someone who’s not been to Italy before and wants to ‘see it all’ in a week or two. A day here, a day there, trying to fit as many famous sights in as possible, but in truth missing out on much more in the mad rush around.

    When booking visits with wineries (as purely an enthusiast) Gilman’s would be at the very top end of what we’d plan, unless it was just tasting a lineups at the cellar door.

    It seems Galloni is falling in line with the macho tasting schedules of the other WA contributors. Like the ambitious/naive travel schedules, it’s certainly doable, but whether it’s the best way to experience the wines is definitely debatable.



  3. And how much time does Burghound Allen Meadows spend in the region–three+ months a year??

  4. Yes, Allen says he spends 3 months a year in Burgundy. John spends around 6-8 weeks I think.

  5. There’s no way that he can give proper attention to the wines on that schedule. Maybe that’s why his notes on individual wines are so short and weak on substance. Quantity over quality, simple as that.

  6. At 30 minutes, even 45 minutes, you simply don’t have time to converse much and get a feel for a winemaker’s decision-making. I find that when I make more than three appointments in a single day, it’s difficult to keep them. Inevitably, an hour stretches into two, or longer. Philosophical discussions dominate; we also talk history and change and style. Tasting a wide range of wines and learning anything useful in 30-45 minutes is not a talent reserved for only the most stellar critics; it essentially doesn’t happen.

    I’ve heard mainly glowing things about Mr. Galloni, and don’t know him. But there is plenty of talk that he (and many critics) are stretched too thin. This is only more evidence to support such a claim.

  7. I average four visits per day, five if I get one that will stay late (7pm+). But that’s only 1-4 days per month – but pretty much every month. Sometimes the visit can be as short as 45minutes, others you are needing excuses to leave, but I count being a slow note-taker an advantage, so the best part of 3-5 minutes per wine would be the minimum – clearly no substitute for spending a night with a bottle.

    The problem with 4-5 visits per day is that you need a day to transcribe those notes – probably more – I’m also a slow typist!! 😉

  8. What would be REALLY interesting is if Galloni tasted the wines at a given estate BLIND.

    I haven’t checked his scores but would not be surprised if his nonblind scores range was 86 – 90 points for Bourgogne, 87 – 92 for village, 90 – 94 for premier cru, 92 – 97 for gc.

    And if that’s the case, what value does he provide to the consumer?

  9. I love how he must have given wines like Lignier’s Clos de la Roche, Rousseau’s Beze and Chambertin, Fourrier’s Griotte and CSJ 90 to 120 seconds each that day before casting judgment. Unreal. Shameful, actually. How can anybody take his notes seriously?

  10. […] A couple of things to note in all this. First, Parker has not selected a regional expert for any of the new regions. While Galloni had only been to California and Burgundy twice before assuming his coverage of those areas, it’s not immediately clear if Martin, in particular, has been ever been to and tasted in the regions of his new assignment. Also, a with so much ground to cover, hopefully they manage to slow down and not feel compelled to taste at nine wineries in a day. […]

  11. No one covers Italy like Galloni (as of yet) in US/UK publications.

    Why not do it yourself if you think you could do better?

    Just have a shot at just Sicily perhaps? Or just Sardinia? Or Campania? Or just Alto Adige? Or try a region of France?

    I didn’t think so. You’d prefer to do nothing. To carp from the sidelines.

    Writing a few badly worded paragraphs about some faux controversy here and there is easy. But you don’t write about anything – other than those who cover wine, and the ephemera/controversies around the subject.

    BTW 45 minutes for a standard domaine in any region of France would be disciplined but correct.

    Given that no one commenting here (or yourself) has any experience of what it is to cover a wine region, who would have the faintest idea of what it takes, in terms on time, work, or anything?

    A parade of fools. Here because some lame hack made a lame play with another lame tabloid blog.

    That’s great and a lot of fun in a way. It’s entertainment.

    But don’t pretend it has anything at all to do with wine.

  12. “Given that no one commenting here (or yourself) has any experience of what it is to cover a wine region, who would have the faintest idea of what it takes, in terms on time, work, or anything?”

    Speak for yourself ‘hill’

  13. “Hill,” you are correct that I have not reviewed wines for any critical publications. However, I have visited estates with professional critics on visits that were being written up for their journals, and watching that made it very clear that it is not possible for a professional reviewer to taste through a lineup for review accurately in only 45 minutes, particularly if he wants to receive any information about the winemaking or the vintage.

    You write that “45 minutes for a standard domaine in any region of France would be disciplined but correct.” This is not a case of visiting an estate in Bordeaux or the Rhone that might make a flagship wine, a second label and a white or two; this is Burgundy, where even a small domaine may have 15 or more wines in the lineup.

    Finally, your comment “Why not do it yourself if you think you could do better?” is totally irrelevant. The question is not whether Dr. Vino could do the job better; the question is whether Galloni, with one of the most important platforms in the wine world, could do it better than his current approach allows. The answer is very clearly yes, and he does his tens of thousands of paying subscribers a disservice to pretend otherwise.

  14. How about 15 wines in two vintages, one in barrel and one in bottle? So 30 wines in 45 minutes is “correct”? This “Hill” is a moron.

  15. The Galloni tour countinues

    this am – Domaine de l’Arlot, Chevillon, Gouges and Lecheneaut, the pm is De Montille, Lafon, D’Angerville and Jadot #wine


    Also appears he was doing some shopping while there:
    ordered some 2010 Amoureuses in mags for my baby girl = happy #wine

  16. Well, I assume he bought the Amoureuses direct from one of the domaines he visited, so that wouldn’t have added extra time. That’s a crazy schedule. Burghound rated 77 Jadot 2009s so that alone should take a full afternoon.

  17. Craig – do wine advocate critics buy direct from domaines? How does an average joe do that because i would like to?

  18. Jon–I have no idea of course which domaine he would have bought these from, although the list is somewhat limited. As 2010s are not offered for sale yet I don’t see any other way he could have made this arrangement. Burgundy domaines are often willing to sell a bit of wine to people they have personal relationships with. Perhaps he asked for that wine specifically, but I don’t consider Antonio corrupt in any way so my guess is that he asked a domaine if he could buy a bit of wine for his daughter’s birthyear and the winemaker suggested that one (presumably trying to curry favor). FWIW I don’t see anything to criticize in that.

  19. […] of the writer. Possibly compounding the situation, or adding a new wrinkle, is the sheer quantity of tasting notes some critics produce–it’s hard to say something original when churning out dozens of […]


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