The Wine Advocate

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The Wine Advocate
Wine advocate front.jpg
Categories Wine newsletter
Frequency Bimonthly
Publisher The Wine Advocate, Inc.
First issue August, 1978
Based in Maryland, United States[1]
Language English
Website www.erobertparker.com

The Wine Advocate, fully known as Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and informally abbreviated TWA or WA or more recently as RP, is a global bimonthly wine publication based in the United States featuring the consumer advice of wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr.[2]

Initially titled The Baltimore-Washington Wine Advocate the first issue was published in 1978.[3][4] Accepting no advertising, the newsletter publishes in excess of 12,000 reviews per year, utilizing Parker's rating system that employs a 50-100 point quality scale (Parker Points® or simply RP).[5] These wine ratings have a significant effect on the economic performance of the reviewed wine.[6][7]

Background and history[edit]

Robert Parker first developed an interest in wine on a trip to France while in college studying law. In the 1970s, Parker was influenced by the activist consumerism philosophy of Ralph Nader and saw in the wine industry a lack of independent wine criticism that was not sponsored by the distributors or wineries being reviewed. He released his first edition of The Baltimore-Washington Wine Advocate in 1978, originally as a complimentary bi-monthly feature.[8] It soon changed to a subscription periodical and by 1984 was successful enough that Parker could quit practicing law full-time and focus on wine reviews.[9]

Parker and The Wine Advocate first garnered international, mainstream attention for his early prediction of the superiority and quality of the 1982 vintage of Bordeaux wine. Parker's enthusiastic endorsement created a spike of interest from American wine buyers in purchasing wine futures of this vintage, prior to its release to the public. This had the effect of raising the price dramatically for 1982 Bordeaux wines. Subscriptions to The Wine Advocate continued to grow and by 1998 had more than 45,000 subscribers from 35 different countries.[9] In 2000, an online version of the magazine was introduced, eRobertParker.com, which expanded the publication beyond Wine Advocate content to include an interactive Bulletin Board managed by Mark Squires and many articles and features not available in the printed version. By 2012, subscribership had grown to about 50,000, with 80% of readers from in the United States.[1]

Transformation in 2012–2013[edit]

As of December 2012, many changes were announced concerning the management and format of The Wine Advocate following the sale of a majority stake in the publication to investors from Singapore.[10] A transition from print to fully on-line distribution was announced, to take effect before the end of 2013.[1] The role of editor-in-chief went from Parker to Lisa Perotti-Brown, a Singapore-based correspondent for the publication.[1] A second editorial office was opened in Singapore.[1]

Following lead critic Antonio Galloni's departure from The Wine Advocate in February 2013,[10] three new critics were recruited adding to what Robert Parker called his "Dream Team." Jeb Dunnuck joined the publication on April 3, 2013 followed by Monica Larner and Luis Gutiérrez on April 23, 2013.[11][12][13]

Team of Reviewers[edit]

Starting in 2001, Parker started to delegate many of the world's wine regions to a team of critics. Parker continues to review wines from Northern California including Napa and Sonoma, Bordeaux, California Retrospectives, Bordeaux Retrospectives and Value Wines.

Jeb Dunnuck reviews the wines of the Rhône Valley (both North and South), Southern France, Washington and California's Central and South Coasts.

Luis Gutiérrez covers the wines of Spain, Chile and Argentina.

Monica Larner is responsible for reviewing the wines of Italy.

Neal Martin reviews the wines of Burgundy's Côte d'Or, Macon, Beaujolais, Sauternes, South Africa, Port, Madeira and Banyuls.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown, MW reviews the wines of Australia and New Zealand.

David Schildknecht reviews Germany, Champagne, Chablis, Austria, Oregon and Corsica. He also reports on the wines of Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Alsace, Savoie, Jura, Switzerland and New York/Eastern USA.

Mark Squires oversees the Mark Squires' Bulletin Board at eRobertParker.com and reviews the wines of Portugal, Israel, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.[14][15][16][17]

Previous Wine Advocate critics include Pierre Rovani, Daniel Thomases, Jay Miller and Antonio Galloni.[18][19]

Influence on the wine industry[edit]

While not the first American wine publication, nor the first to use a numerical wine ratings scale, The Wine Advocate was the first to widely adopt the 50-100 point scale and use it as parallel to the American educational grading system. This system was familiar to Robert Parker's original target audience - the average American consumer - and provided a guideline for quantifying a wine's quality in a standardize format. Retailers have used The Wine Advocate's "Parker scores" to aggressively market wines with high scores. The scores have also become focal points for collectors and wine investors who purchase highly rated wines in the hopes that the Parker scores will increase the value of the wine.[9]

Throughout various wine regions, most notably Bordeaux, The Wine Advocate early vintage evaluation-sampled while the wine is still in oak barrels-can have a dramatic effect on the eventual prices of all the region's wine upon their release.[20] Individual scores of wine can also affect whether or not distributors or retailers will order the wine to sell with some retailers refusing to order wine rated below 85 points.[21]

Wine Advocate Fund[edit]

The Wine Advocate also operates The Wine Advocate Fund For Philanthropy,[22] a non-profit organization that raises money primarily for cancer research. In 2008 the Fund hosted a $10,000 per plate charity dinner where the publication's 100-rated wines were served.[23] In 2006 a similar dinner raised $1.3 million.[24]

Criticisms[edit]

The influence of The Wine Advocate on the demand and commercial interest of wine has met with some criticism, with wineries being accused of making wines tailored to Parker's tastes. In the late 1980s, wine expert Jancis Robinson noted that Parker and The Wine Advocate were "...in danger of controlling the international fine wine market."[21] The subject of scoring of The Wine Advocate scoring has also been criticized by wine writers, such as Hugh Johnson, who stated that wine tasting and evaluation are intrinsically subjective, with the wine having the potential to dramatically change and evolve over time. The Wine Advocate publishes on the cover of every issues its philosophy that "...wine is no different from any consumer product. There are specific standards of quality that full time wine professionals recognize".[9]

The effects of The Wine Advocate scores can be pronounced in the retail sphere, with wine rated above 90 points usually selling well while those even in the 85-89 range, which is rated "good to very good", are often ignored by consumers.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Teague, Lettie (December 10, 2012), "A Wine Advocate Hands Over Reins", The Wall Street Journal (paper): B1;B3 
  2. ^ Elson, John, Time (December 14, 1987). "The Man with a Paragon Palate". 
  3. ^ Fraser, Laura, San Francisco Chronicle (July 31, 2005). "Days of wine and noses". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  4. ^ Parker, Robert M. Jr. Business Week (June 26, 2006). "Parker, At Your Service". 
  5. ^ erobertparker.com The Wine Advocate Ratings System
  6. ^ Gray, W. Blake ,San Francisco Chronicle (June 15, 2007). "Are ratings pointless?". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  7. ^ Wine-searcher.com Robert Parker Scores and Wine Prices
  8. ^ C. Platman "Emperor of Wine" The Birmingham Post, May 31st, 2006
  9. ^ a b c d J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 507 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-860990-6
  10. ^ a b Woodard, Richard. "Galloni leaves Wine Advocate". Decanter Magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Wine Advocate & eRobertParker.com Announce Expanded Wine Coverage With More Tasting Notes & In-Depth Reporting". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Wine Advocate & eRobertParker.com Unveil Two More Reviewers Joining Its World-Renowned Editorial Team". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Ferraro, Luciano. "Dalle Alpi all’Etna, i 15 vini dell’estate (e il nuovo gusto americano)". Il Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Goldberg, Howard G., Decanter.com (September 1, 2006). "Parker announces new staff". 
  15. ^ Comiskey, Patrick, Los Angeles Times (October 15, 2008). "Robert Parker shares his soapbox World of wine scores". 
  16. ^ Yarrow, Alder, vinography.com (February 5, 2011). The End of an Era: Robert Parker Stops Reviewing California Wine
  17. ^ "The Wine Advocate & eRobertParker.com Announce Expanded Wine Coverage With More Tasting Notes & In-Depth Reporting". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  18. ^ Jon, Bonné. "The Wine Advocate sues Antonio Galloni". Inside Scoop SF. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Shaw, Lucy. "The Wine Advocate Drops Galloni Lawsuit". The Drinks Business. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  20. ^ a b Murphy, Linda, San Francisco Chronicle (October 21, 2004) Robert Parker pops the corks on a dozen 100-point wines
  21. ^ a b Prial, Frank J., The New York Times (December 6, 1989) WINE TALK; When He Sips, Vintners Tremble
  22. ^ wineadvocatefund.org Wine Advocate Fund for Philanthropy
  23. ^ wineadvocatefund.org The World's Sexiest Wines Dinner
  24. ^ Business Wire (June 6, 2006). Robert Parker's Wine Advocate Fund Combats Cancer and Illiteracy with Daniel Boulud

External links[edit]