Home > About Winedoctor
Winedoctor is the online home of Chris Kissack, and has been published without break since May 2000. Within I provide opinion on two of the world's great wine regions, Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.
What's the system?
Every week I publish a selection of articles relevant to Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, and on occasion other regions too. The majority of the articles are tasting reports, domaine profiles and updates, but there are also book and restaurant reviews and 'weekend wine' reports. Additions to the site are made every day from Monday to Friday, for about 48 weeks of the year. Most weekends also see new additions to the site. I also update at least one domaine profile each week, to ensure all my older profiles are up to date.
What reports can we expect?
I have a fairly firm timetable of updates throughout the year. Each April I attend the Bordeaux primeurs, so expect a detailed report on the latest vintage then. I also attend large annual tastings of Bordeaux at two, four and ten years of age, so you can expect regular reviews as the wines progress as well. In addition I report on many older Bordeaux from my cellar, aiding drinking decisions as the wines mature. For the Loire Valley, I publish a detailed vintage assessment each year, usually after visiting the region in February. Again, I look back at older vintages through the wines in my cellar.
Alongside these vintage and regional reports every week I add new domaine and château profiles, or tasting updates focusing on the most recent releases. In order to facilitate these reports and updates, I visit both regions every year, typically two or three times a year for Bordeaux, once or twice a year for the Loire Valley.
What's your style?
I'm not sure I'm the best qualified to provide an objective answer to this question, but I will try! I avoid hyperbole and the slew of perfect scores that seems de rigueur in wine reports these days. My palate favours purity and precision, and seeks out wines that feel energetic and alive in the mouth. I adore moreishness, and freshness. I find wines that are leaden and dull, dominated by over-extracted tannin and raisined fruit, which try to win over the palate with blunt force, to be wearisome. I look for beauty and charm in wine.
I'm determined to seek out value estates, especially in Bordeaux. Although I deal with the big names in detail, I also look to the little guys turning out great wines at great price points; cru bourgeois estates on the left bank, and lesser-known names in Castillon, Montagne-St-Emilion and Fronsac get a look in.
Why the Loire Valley?
The white wines of Bordeaux, dry or sweet, are always praised as the underdogs. So what does that make similar styles from the Loire Valley then; the flea on the collar? Along 400 kilometres of the Loire Valley we have fabulous soils, wonderful vineyards and some truly world-class wines. These wines are woefully under-rated and under-reported, and yet are no less fascinating than a great Nuits-St-Georges, Barolo or Ribera del Duero.
The styles are many; dry Chenin Blanc from Jasnières, sweet wines from the Coteaux du Layon and Vouvray, minerally Muscadet and stylish Sancerre, many wiping the floor with wines from more famous regions, and often at a fraction of the price. And there are red wines too, perfumed Chinon and Bourgueil, or richer wines more in the Bordeaux style if that is your thing. I can be your guide to high quality and great value in these appellations.
How many wines?
At least 10,000 tasting notes, a figure constantly rising. These notes are the work of one palate, not a tasting team or committee. Thanks to my regional focus I know what good Savennières or Sauternes should taste like, and I'm not afraid to judge wines as I see them. My notes are fully integrated with Cellar Tracker, and so Cellar Tracker users who subscribe to Winedoctor will be able to find my notes there as well.
It is not just notes though. I have never had much faith in the wine critic who churns out reams of notes but can never be bothered to provide the background information. For every domaine I profile I give a detailed history, information on the people, the vineyards and the winemaking philosophies, as well as my personal opinion too. And if that isn't enough, I have detailed multi-page wine guides to give even more background information.
The cost of access to Winedoctor is £45 per annum, equivalent to £3.75 per month. This is payable by credit card in a single annual sum, allowing access to all paywall-protected articles during the period of subscription. The fee renews each year, giving you continued access to Winedoctor.
Can we try it out?
There is a pay-to-view one month trial costing £15. On completion you will be given the option of 'topping-up' with a £30 payment for the subsequent eleven months. Trial periods are provided on a one-per-account bases. Alternatively, you are welcome to view these samples:
- Bordeaux profile: reports generally vary from three to eight pages. My profile of Cos d'Estournel is in the middle. Note this is already an outdated profile; the one in the site has since been updated.
- En primeur tasting report: recent en primeur reports tend to stretch over about 35 pages. My 2011 St Emilion report is just four pages from my 2011 primeurs review.
- Loire profile: I cover the entire Loire Valley, from Muscadet to Sancerre. This profile of Lise et Bertrand Jousset is typical, although some are longer.
- Loire tasting report: my Loire 2012 report was the most detailed early assessment yet. My two-page section on 2012 Muscadet was typical.
- Bordeaux Guide: my guide to Pauillac is a typical page in my new-look guide to this region.