Wine critic Robert Parker has announced a rejuvenated website for ‘RobertParker.com’, which will formally debut on 1 April, but subscribers are now able to test the beta configuration.
At a Krug-fuelled media event at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City on Friday, Robert Parker Wine Advocate unveiled a new beta site for its RobertParker.com online iteration that will be formally launched on 1 April. Current subscribers to Parker’s wine guide will be able to test drive the new site immediately at beta.robertparker.com.
The Wine Advocate editor-in-chief, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, seated next to founder Robert Parker, introduced her team of seven additional writer/reviewers who were all in town for a series of private dinners, including a Parker-led Château Latour retrospective, as well as Saturday’s ‘Matter of Taste’ wine road tour at the hotel.
All these activities are part of the once-flagging The Wine Advocate’s quest for rejuvenation following a period when the iconic Parker had reduced his role as a reviewer before selling a majority interest in the business and relinquishing his role as editor-in-chief.
The website revision was two years in the making at the publication’s Singapore office with assistance from Brand Union, Perrotti-Brown explained, and was now one “you can actually use” with “300,000 tasting notes in the data base.”
Hallmarks of the new site, which was founded in 2001, are improved graphics, much-faster and filtered searchability along with information on prices and availability of wines worldwide with a link to Wine-Searcher.com.
Perrotti-Brown said there would be increased emphasis on food and culture coverage via the site’s ‘Hedonist’s Gazette’ section. A simplified Chinese version of the site is to be launched in June.
The event also was the public introduction of the newest member of the The Wine Advocate team of reviewers, Liwen Hao, who was hired two months ago to cover Chinese and other Asian beverage producers, including sake as well as wine.
Other team reviewers are Jeb Dunnuck, Luis Gutierrez, Monica Larner, Neal Martin, Stephan Reinhardt and Mark Squires. As Parker noted, “everyone is 20 years younger than me, except Mark.”
This remark was part of a long rumination by Parker about how the wine world has changed – all for the better, he believes – since he launched The Wine Advocate about 38 years ago from his residence in suburban Baltimore in the U.S. “Today, we have greater choices, greater quality and greater availability,” he said.
He defended his often-criticised scoring system, noting that before he started writing, he avidly read the tasting notes of British wine critics. “But often you couldn’t tell whether they liked the wine or not,” he said. “A score along with tasting notes is your stake in the ground.”
He reminisced how he once reviewed the much-smaller total wine world all by himself, noting that early issues of The Wine Advocate would have about 300 tasting notes while recent issues may have 6,000.
One writer in attendance questioned whether winemakers worldwide had customised their products to get higher Parker scores. Parker replied he couldn’t imagine any self-respecting winemaker doing this, although he did note that prominent wine consultants, including his frequent sidekick, Michel Rolland, had emphasised modern techniques in vineyards and wineries to get riper fruit and cleaner wines.
He conceded that, as a result, some regions might have lost some of their individuality while benefitting through improved quality.
Parker sold majority ownership in The Wine Advocate in December 2012 to a group of Singapore investors for US$15 million (US).