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Big Changes
In the Business of Wine Reviewing

Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate set off a chain reaction in December of 2012 that has changed the face of American subscription based wine review journals in less than two years. Robert Parker invented the 100 point scale and the idea of a subscription only wine review publication that did not accept advertising back in 1978. It was a major success, and within just a few years most American wine lovers would not even think about ordering a case of Bordeaux without seeing Parker's score first.

A few years later the fledgling magazine, Wine Spectator, adopted a similar 100 point scale for their advertising laden subscription and newsstand publication. Then in 1985 Stephen Tanzer began publishing the International Wine Cellar (IWC), a publication that copied both Parker's 100 point scale and subscription only, no advertising format. Tanzer's publication favored finesse over Parker's pendent for power in wines. It also became very popular and continued to be published until November of 2014 when it became the final act in a chain reaction that Robert Parker set in motion in December of 2012.

In relating this chain of events, it is important to understand that with Mr. Parker turning 67 and Mr. Tanzer not that far behind, these are both men in search of a succession plan. Running a subscription-only print and on line publication that does not accept advertising is not a way to become fabulously wealthy. And while I am sure both men have done very well, I am also pretty sure that they both needed to monetize their publications to ever think about retiring.

December 2012: Robert Parker sells a majority interest in Wine Advocate to a group of unnamed Singapore investors. Singapore-based wine reviewer, Lisa Perotti-Browne, replaces Robert Parker as editor-in-chief and he becomes chairman and continues as the chief reviewer. They announce that it will transition from print to on-line only in 2013 (this never happens, the print publication is still available for a separate $99 subscription paid to Parker's offices in Monkton, Maryland).

February to April 2013: Antonio Galloni, part of a new generation of wine writers and one of Parker's lead reviewers since 2006, resigns from Wine Advocate (I'm guessing he thought he was the succession plan). The publication files a lawsuit against him that Robert Parker subsequently drops. Galloni launches his own web-only publication called Vinous and all his new materials appear there.

Robert Parker hires three new reviewers including Jeb Dunnuck another young wine writer who's own on on-line publication, The Rhone Report, ceases to exist.

November 2014: After aggressively expanding his publication, Antonio Galloni's Vinous acquires Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. Stephen Tanzer becomes editor-in-chief and his reviewers are incorporated into the the Vinous team. International Wine Cellar's entire archive is incorporated into the Vinous site and the IWC is taken off line. Suddenly Vinous has over 180,000 reviews and 1,000 articles posted on line.

So... look for a lot more Vinous reviews for our wine selections as we go forward. And all the best to Robert Parker, I've been a subscriber since 1988 and his reviews have rarely let me down. But I have to say... "good luck" with the Chinese!