After the big shake at WA, Antonio takes his talent to South Beach

Well ok, unlike Lebron James,  Antonio is not going to Miami but his departure from the Wine Advocate was stunning and has caused a huge stir in the wine blogosphere. Unlike many of our fellow bloggers, we have not come to bury Wine Advocate and do the soft shoe on its grave but rather look at this news with an open eye.

The Story

News of Antonio’s departure was first reported by NY Times wine columnist Eric Asimov yesterday (article here) and immediately unleashed the Parker haters en masse. We at DdV have never been big Parker fans and have never subscribed to the WA newsletter. Through our travels around the web we do see the scores and tasting notes on occasion (mostly reposted by the wineries if they score big) and have generally found their California Wine scores in the ballpark with most of the other critics. That said Parker himself has seemed to be a bit too generous with scores from some of the Napa cult darlings which has raised the ire of several notable critics who cover Cali wine.

First let’s take a look at the story and do some reading between the lines.

His first reason for starting his own site was to bring wine appreciation to a younger generation and demystify wine selection for dinning out as well as everyday drinking. Sounds great right? But here’s the real reason as quoted in the NYT article:

“It’s obviously clear that was going to change,’’ Mr. Galloni said. “I talked to Lisa, and it was clear that the best way for me to guarantee the highest level of independence and quality was to run my own business.’’

Obviously something came down from corporate that he did not like one bit. As he has yet to secure all of his outside investors in his site, this was not a planned move. His deal with Parker kept him as an independent contractor and gave him full freedom to do as he wished. The new Wine Advocate Editor in Chief Lisa Perrotti-Brown who is now based in Singapore obviously made significant changes to that arrangement. Time to go…

What’s Next?

First, Antonio will need to get all his investors in order and begin the difficult task of putting up content that will be unique and persuade people to subscribe. No easy task as James Suckling has learned all too well with his site that has received no more than luke warm readership numbers. The fact that many consider him a pompous douche and his $143 membership fee could be the reason he’s not a big seller. While we don’t see Antonio taking that same route, he will need to compete not only with the big boys like Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator but will also be up against the many blogs out there such as Terriorist, 1WineDude, Dr. Vino, and many others.

What about Wine Advocate? Well, many are now shoveling the dirt on the coffin and they may be right. The debacle of Parker’s billion 100 point scores on big Bordeaux houses and now Antonio’s departure sure does put enough blood in the water to make one pause. Time will tell, but things are not looking rosé at WA these days.

In summary, we wish good luck to Antonio! From the interviews we’ve read and his tweets he seems like a good guy. His scores of Napa mountain wines (he likes them) also puts him in a good light here at DdV. Note that he’s a guy who waited tables by day to play jazz guitar by night! Trust us folks, this is not a guy looking to rub elbows with big shot rich wine collectors. A guy with his passion for music and wine should in a fair world succeed. We wish him the best!

You can find his site here: