Robert Parker 2.0…Maybe only 1.5?

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Wall Street Journal article, Dec 10, 2012, “A Wine Advocate Hands Over Reins”.  Unfortunately, You may have trouble viewing the full article if not a subscriber.

Interesting bullet points…

  • The Wine Advocate is a 34 year-old publication.
  • By the end of 2013 they intend to phase out of the print version.
  • Parker is selling a substantial interest in Wine Advocate to a Singapore investor group who will take over day-to-day operations from Singapore, in a move from Maryland.
  • Lisa Perrotti-Brown will take charge of editorial oversight from her Singapore base.
  • The publication will widen its worldview and pay increased attention to the Asian wine market, including wines produced in China.
  • In a major move, they will begin accepting advertising, though not from the wine industry, so as to continue to avoid any perceived conflict of interest in their ratings.

Since Parker is now 65 years old, it would seem a transition makes sense.  “Version 1.0″ has had an amazing run, and has affected the wine industry like few other forces, some will say for the better, others may say for the worse.

For the better, it has given recognition to many wines that may not have otherwise been able to find such a broad audience.  For the worse, it has fostered a generation of winos that buy on Parker ratings, rather than trusting their own taste (to which I plead guilty).  Furthermore it fosters a “Parkerization” of wines, as they are often made to chase the Parker taste, in search of the high ratings which drive sales.

Fortunately, it seems that I like the Parker palette, but I couldn’t tell you for sure whether it’s because it’s truly my taste, or whether my nascent palette was groomed that way.  Doesn’t really matter at this point, as there are many competitive sources of wine ratings from which to choose.

I have learned that though I will find an interest in a wine because of a rating, I am best served by trying before buying!

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A follow-on WSJ piece, Dec 13, 2012, entitled “Wine Advocate to Stay in Print,” makes me smile.  It contains a couple of points of clarification on the above…

  • The company will not move from its Maryland headquarters, though Singapore will be a “second office” from which the new editor Lisa Perrotti-Brown will be conducting her day-to-day business affairs.
  • The Wine Advocate will not phase out its print publication next year, apparently in response to a bit of an uprising from subscribers.
  • To clarify their advertising intent, they claimed they would never run ads in the hard copy of pdf versions of the Wine Advocate Newsletter.

Apparently customer concerns are still important to Parker and to new management.

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