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Robert Parker To Sell The Wine Advocate

The WIne Advocate Robert Parker

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#1 DonRocks

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:14 AM

Color me jaded, but human beings have a lifespan.

Money is money, and Parker will now be ensured wealth and security in his retirement. Although I'm not really familiar with the details, this had to happen sometime, and Parker needed to take care of himself.

Wall Street Journal Article
Businessweek Article
The Wine Cellar Insider Article
Decanter Article

I'm just wondering what all the point-memorizers will do now that he's gone. My guess is that they'll climb on-board with whatever marketing train is leaving the station.

Prediction: in the long term, this is going to have enormous ramifications in the Hong Kong auction market, and eventually the world auction market, and the wineries with the most money, will win.

A loss for the consumer? Yep. As much as I disagree with Parker's palate, I'd rather have one man's flaws held accountable than a wild-west situation.

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#2 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:56 AM

A very peculiar and sudden development, so much so that one has to wonder if Parker has discovered some sort of terminal condition. Or believes in Mayan doomsday.

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#3 DonRocks

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 12:00 PM

A very peculiar and sudden development, so much so that one has to wonder if Parker has discovered some sort of terminal condition. Or believes in Mayan doomsday.


It's really only peculiar or sudden in the public eye. If the money was right - and these are apparently three wealthy Filipinos (*) who have been long-time subscribers, this could have been in the works for awhile, and it would have been easy to conceal the negotiations.

My big hope is that Parker's employees, such as David Schildknecht whom I consider a personal friend and like very much, have a soft landing.

Parker was born in 1947, and he's not getting any younger. This had to happen at some point - now, or twenty years from now.

(*) Which is why I think wineries like Penfold's are salivating right about now.

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#4 B.A.R.

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 12:07 PM

I give this move 93 points and recommend all WA subscribers to drink now through 2013

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#5 johnb

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 01:37 PM

I'm just wondering what all the point-memorizers will do now that he's gone. My guess is that they'll climb on-board with whatever marketing train is leaving the station.

A loss for the consumer? Yep. As much as I disagree with Parker's palate, I'd rather have one man's flaws held accountable than a wild-west situation.


Put me down in agreement with the first line and disagreement with the second.

Parker was certainly not the first to give numerical ratings, but he probably was the first to popularize doing it on a 100 point scale; before that, with people like Harry Waugh and Alex Lichine who actually knew their subject, it was mostly 5 or maybe 10 categories. IMO, the suggestion that anyone can rate wines so finely, and that wines exhibit such fine differences, is fraudulent. Particularly anyone who has had no training whatsoever, but simply portrayed himself as an expert in a self-published newsletter. But people certainly bought into it. A triumph of marketing -- lawyer becomes wine expert.

Many years ago when I was involved with the Washington Wine and Cheese Seminar, I did a blind tasting of Cabs that Parker had given various ratings to, from the mid-60's to about 90 IIRC. The idea was to see if those wine enthusiasts would/could even come close to matching his ratings. Our results didn't correlate in the least. Everyone should get together with friends and try a tasting like that, blind of course. Much truth comes out in those. My conclusion -- Parker's ratings do not and never did have much added value to offer the actual consumer. It's hype; I'd prefer the wild west. YMMV.

But I believe he did help out the industry, a lot, to the detriment of all our pocketbooks. And I believe he did massive injury to the evolution of fine winemaking, because everybody started to vinify to please his palate, and we all ended up with massive "jammy" wines lacking anything like the finesse and sophistication they could and should have had. What happened particularly to Zinfandel was a travesty, IMO, but that's just my opinion. At least there have been signs more recently that wine makers have learned the error of those ways. We'll see.

#6 Josh Radigan

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 01:57 PM

Everything eventially evolves to change with the times. Looking at his WA over the past 15 years not much has changed in style, yet the depth of his reviews have evolved with time. No longer just RP and Pierre Rovanni, those days long past, but new breath brought into the establishment. Reviewers focusing purely on their area of expertise, and not outside of the comfort zone. With the wine industry changing, seemingly everyday, the newness will take time to adjust. Some will love it,some will want it to stay as it did 15-20 years ago. For Parker, bound to happen, and it seems that there was a constant question posed to him year in and year out, when will you sell?

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#7 DonRocks

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 05:07 PM

Put me down in agreement with the first line and disagreement with the second.

Parker was certainly not the first to give numerical ratings, but he probably was the first to popularize doing it on a 100 point scale; before that, with people like Harry Waugh and Alex Lichine who actually knew their subject, it was mostly 5 or maybe 10 categories. IMO, the suggestion that anyone can rate wines so finely, and that wines exhibit such fine differences, is fraudulent. Particularly anyone who has had no training whatsoever, but simply portrayed himself as an expert in a self-published newsletter. But people certainly bought into it. A triumph of marketing -- lawyer becomes wine expert.

Many years ago when I was involved with the Washington Wine and Cheese Seminar, I did a blind tasting of Cabs that Parker had given various ratings to, from the mid-60's to about 90 IIRC. The idea was to see if those wine enthusiasts would/could even come close to matching his ratings. Our results didn't correlate in the least. Everyone should get together with friends and try a tasting like that, blind of course. Much truth comes out in those. My conclusion -- Parker's ratings do not and never did have much added value to offer the actual consumer. It's hype; I'd prefer the wild west. YMMV.

But I believe he did help out the industry, a lot, to the detriment of all our pocketbooks. And I believe he did massive injury to the evolution of fine winemaking, because everybody started to vinify to please his palate, and we all ended up with massive "jammy" wines lacking anything like the finesse and sophistication they could and should have had. What happened particularly to Zinfandel was a travesty, IMO, but that's just my opinion. At least there have been signs more recently that wine makers have learned the error of those ways. We'll see.


You know what, John?

I agree with pretty much everything you say here.

In particular, the 100-point scale which is, depending on how you view humanity, anywhere from naive, stupid, and hubristic on one end of the scale, to fraudulent, manipulative, and deceptive on the other end.

Even some of my close friends, all of whom I respect immensely - Allen Meadows, Gerry Dawes, David Schildknecht (not a close friend, but certainly a friend), Josh Raynolds, and John Gilman come to mind - have bought into this utter bullshit (under the guise of "commercial necessity") that wines can be rated with such a ridiculous degree of precision and accuracy. Bottle variation alone - especially with older wines - destroys any credibility that such a highly calibrated system has.

Robert Parker has done two things to devastate the wine industry: 1) popularize the 100-point system, and 2) promote the international style of winemaking. I'm not sure which is more destructive, but in the long term, it's probably going to be the 100-point scale because the international style is already beginning to fall out of favor.

I will *never* forget that mercantile twit Adam Strum, of The Wine Enthusiast, who began using *his own* 100-point system strictly for the purposes of selling his own wines! He'd advertise something like: "Exquisite Echezeaux! 97 points!" from some junkyard producer that *nobody* who knew anything about wine would spend any kind of money on, certainly not the outrageous sums The Wine Enthusiast was trying to peddle this garbage for. He had just slapped his own number onto an advertisement for his own personal profit! It is incredible that he got away with this, but he did!

Gerry will argue that, blah-blah-blah, and "I can have the same wine six months apart and my ratings will be within two points of each other." Sorry, Gerry, you're a great taster, but you've fallen into the trap of believing your own bullshit about this one, and so has everyone else. I can have two wines from the same case on the same night that aren't within two points of each other.

Otherwise respectable critics have adopted this system for one reason and one reason only: they felt like if they didn't, the general public wouldn't accept them. As usual, it all comes down to money. *Every single one* of those guys will pull me aside privately and say, "Of *course* it's bullshit, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do."

Kudos to Terry Theise for being the only person brave enough to stand up to this deceptive rating scale.

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#8 Mark Slater

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 05:51 PM

But will this affect the price of Lafite?

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#9 DonRocks

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 06:11 PM

But will this affect the price of Lafite?


It depends what "this" is.

The price of Lafite has dropped from it's peak, but given the history of the auction market, who knows what will happen?

1982 Lafite is now "down" to under $3,000 a bottle. (A case of 12 sold earlier this year at a Christie's auction in Hong Kong for $42,350).

Sorry to sound like such an Angry Man in my previous post - I actually wrote those guys and told them about it so they didn't think I was stabbing them in the back. (They know how I feel about the subject; I felt it was important that they didn't just randomly stumble upon the post in the future). As for Adam ("Very, very beneficial!") Strum, he's on his own.

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#10 Joe H

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 10:24 PM

Update: Parker now tweets that he’s not scrapping the print edition after all.

Also, an interesting comment: http://blog.wblakegr...-means-for.html

#11 DonRocks

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:20 PM

Update: Parker now tweets that he's not scrapping the print edition after all.

Also, an interesting comment: http://blog.wblakegr...-means-for.html


Surprise everyone! I'm going to say something nice about Robert Parker!

For years, I fought a lonely fight because I *totally* disagree with his viewpoints on terroir, balance (we're strongly in "opinion" territory here), and in general, the "beauty" of wine as the artistic expression of nature, as opposed to some businessman "making" wine in her garage.

Wine is the Earth, it's soil and climate. Wine reflects the existence of God as I know it.

But as I've become this weird, cult-popular restaurant presence who is, from time-to-time, taken seriously as a critic, I began to realize the incredible difficulty of Being Robert Parker.

Courtesy of the Internet, the number of genuine, bonafide, psychos I know has increased by an order of magnitude. Yes, if I knew (and avoided) 4-5 complete, total, whack jobs before I began "working" on the Internet, I now know 40-50.

And some of them I've trusted, completely, totally, because my "default setting" is to trust without even batting an eye. As it turns out, these complete nut cases, in certain instances, have spent an unfathomable amount of their pathetic lives trying to ruin mine.

There was a woman in France that played a secretarial role in Robert Parker's life. I don't remember any details (someone please post them), but the upshot is: he trusted her completely, as she was destroying him for personal gain. Not only did he trust her, he publicly stood up for her as she was continuing to ruin his reputation behind the scenes, and he did so until the evidence against her became so overwhelming that he was forced to confront reality.

It is this incident that made me a Robert Parker fan, and "told" me that he was a good, decent, trusting soul. It had nothing to do with wine, and everything to do with personal character.

My hat is off to him for having, as his "default setting," a trusting demeanor, and for standing behind one of his workers when the chips were down. I would have done the exact same thing (and, in fact, I have - as I was getting stabbed in the back).

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#12 jparrott

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 05:19 AM

I don't have any problem with Arpy's use of point scores, or the types of wines he likes (to each his own), or even some of the questionable activities some of his underlings undertook during the 2000s.

My problem with Parker is that, in my opinion, his style of writing tasting notes shows that he has little or no interest in his readers learning about wine. He eschews criticism and context in favor of the "laundry list of froot/wood notes" approach. It's mesmerizing. And not in a good way.

Rarely, if ever, does RP bother to compare wines in a way that might enhance his readers' contextual understanding of the wine he is discussing, and/or a class of wines in general. To me, it almost seems as if Parker is afraid that if he gives his readers some knowledge, they'll run away.

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#13 Joe H

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 09:49 PM

WSJ Says Wine Advocate Story Accurate
December 13, 2012 | 6:30 AM



We received a statement from Ashely Huston, Vice President, Corporate Communications, with
Dow Jones & Co. - The Wall Street Journal, saying that
Today's Wall Street Journal includes a new story from Lettie Teague regarding the Wine Advocate, linked and copied below.

Regarding WSJ's article on Monday, "Big Shake-Up at Robert Parker's Wine Advocate" - Our original article was accurate, and today's piece reflects the latest statements from the Wine Advocate.

Wine Advocate Will Stay Put, and in Print
By LETTIE TEAGUE
Robert M. Parker Jr., the influential editor of the Wine Advocate, now says the headquarters of the 34-year-old newsletter will remain in Maryland and that it will continue to publish a print edition.In a weekend interview with The Wall Street Journal that was published in Monday's editions, Mr. Parker had said he intended to phase out the print version of the newsletter, moving to an online-only format, possibly before the end of 2013, and that the Wine Advocate's headquarters would be moving to Singapore.He also had disclosed plans to step down as editor in chief and sell a "substantial interest" in the newsletter to a trio of Singapore-based investors. Those plans appear to be continuing unchanged.Mr. Parker and the Wine Advocate have a loyal following, with about 50,000 subscribers paying $75 for six issues a year.Some subscribers raised an outcry on the newsletter's online bulletin board after the Journal published its article on the interview Monday, and Mr. Parker said the Wine Advocate would continue to appear in print. On Monday morning he tweeted that he had "no plans to eliminate the print edition."A spokeswoman for Mr. Parker said in an email Wednesday that "while things could always change down the road," the print edition will stay in place.The spokeswoman also said the newsletter's Singapore office will be "a second office," from which its investors and Singapore-based correspondent Lisa Perrotti-Brown, the new editor in chief, "will be handling various business and editorial operations."The spokeswoman also said in Wednesday's email that the Wine Advocate's headquarters will remain in Monkton, Md.The spokeswoman added that the owners "will never run ads in hard copy or the PDF editions of the Wine Advocate, but are looking into the idea of nonwine-related advertisement on the bulletin board and portions of eRobertParker.com," Mr. Parker's website.Ms. Perrotti-Brown had said in an email to the Journal over the weekend that the owners would "eventually allow advertising" in the Wine Advocate from upscale sponsors such as credit cards or watch companies.

The above is from winebusiness.com http://www.winebusiness.com/blog/





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