The Truth behind the Robert Parker Wine Advocate deal

robert parket wine advocate

The Wine Advocates new investors paint the town (Bordeaux) Red

The wizened old fools of the wine press spent much of  today writing paragraphs of piffle about an old(ish) man announcing a business deal that will make him much richer tomorrow than he is today.

Yes, dear old Robert ’98 out 100′ Parker (65) has decided to cash in some chips and sell a ‘substantial interest’ in the The Wine Advocate, a 40,000 subscriber newsletter about wine.

In a masterful move, Parker has managed to generate an estimated $6.5 trillion of press coverage today with a cunning strategy of saying barely nothing at all.

In comments made to the Wall Street Journal* that read like the equivalent of Clint Eastwood talking to a chair at a GOP convention, Parker claims to have taken on some new investors who presented him with ‘a plan he couldn’t refuse’.

Mysteriously, he describes the investors as “three 30-early 40ish highly qualified business and technology people and enthusiastic wine lovers”. Or as Felix Salmon over at Reuters describes them “a shadowy group of investors from Singapore”.

Editorial control will also be moving to the East with editorial oversight given to to his Singapore-based correspondent, Lisa Perrotti-Brown with Parker remaining as CEO. And that’s about all we know.

So why all the cloak and dagger Bob? Well, in the absence of facts you can always count on Decanter magazine to pump out some SEO friendly speculation. Like this: understands that agents acting for the critic have been approaching high-net-worth individuals in Asia since the early part of the year.

All those contacted have denied any involvement and refused to speak on record, although one told he was approached by ‘current and former employees of Goldman Sachs’ with a business prospectus for ‘commercialisation of the Parker brand.’

Parker won’t name his investors and Decanter’s sources refuse to go on record. Hmmm. Maybe Felxi is right. Maybe these investors are shadowy. And if they are indeed former employees of Goldman Sachs, then we can rest assured that The Wine Advocate will quickly descend into a ponzi scheme culminating in a system of credit default swaps which will conclude with the Parker wine cellar being seized by the repo man.

And what is this great new future? No one knows. Even Bob it seems.

The facts of the day are as follows:

– Robert Parket Jr** has sold an unspecified stake in The Wine Advocate to a number of unspecified buyers who he claims are visionary’s and know a bit about IT
– The Wall Street Journal stated confidently that The Wine Advocate newsletter would now take advertising. Except it won’t according to Robert Parker Jr who subsequently tweeted it not to be the case
–  Editorial oversight will be given to to his Singapore-based correspondent, Lisa Perrotti-Brown with Parker remaining as CEO. However as this was also reported by the WSJ this is probably untrue too.
– The print version of the newsletter is to be phased out and replace by a ‘printable pdf’. Read that sentence again and then ask yourself how tech savvy these new investors are.

So in conclusion, The Wine Advocate has simply followed the path of many free market enterprises and gone where the money is. The East.

For a reasoned perspective on this whole nonsense story see Eric Asimov’s excellent article in The New York Times

* Please note that the WSJ is behind a paywall and you shouldn’t read it. Not because it’s behind a paywall though, you simply shouldn’t read it because it’s owned by a man called Rupert Murdoch.

** Not to be confused with Ray Parker Jr who sung the theme tune to Ghostbusters or Harry Connick Jr who want’s to be Frank Sinatra



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