The X’d files: an exchange not seen on

eboblogoThe forums at are a lively place. Unfortunately, they are often moderated with a heavy hand: several voices have been expelled and some threads that have even a whiff of criticism are deleted in their entirety.

Such was the case with a thread last week concerning Mike Steinberger’s recent Slate column about the state of Australian wine. Mark Squires, who moderates the Parker board, accused Steinberger of selecting “biased” retailers for the story. One of the retailers shot back with a stinging rebuttal of the bias claim. Shortly thereafter, the thread was deleted in its totality.

Subsequently, Steinberger had an email exchange with Squires. Steinberger questioned the decision to delete the thread and said it had unfairly deprived him of a chance to respond to Squires’s assertions. Squires was unmoved, and a spirited discussion followed. With Steinberger’s permission, I am posting the exchange here. Sit back and pass the popcorn.

From: mhsteinberger
To: msquires
Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2009 11:21:34 PM

Mr. Squires,

You made an assertion today, in the thread about my Slate article, to which I wish to respond. However, it appears that the thread has now been deleted. I would ask you to restore the thread so that I might reply, and to leave it open so that others can read the comments and weigh in. It was a perfectly civil discussion, and there was no reason to remove it. There was nothing in my article that could be construed as an attack on Robert Parker or the Wine Advocate, and I am at a loss to understand why you felt the need to delete the entire thread.

Mike Steinberger

Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2009 06:43:03 -0700
From: msquires
Subject: Re:
To: mhsteinberger
This decision has nothing to do with you or your article per se. Calling this a civil thread is simply astounding. It will not be restored, nor could it be as it has been deleted.

I’m still rather confused as to what you consider an unbiased source. I have a degree in journalism, summa cum laude, btw. But frankly I’m not really concerned enough about it to debate it.

From: mhsteinberger
To: msquires
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 1:48:14 PM
Subject: RE:

I have no interest in debating, either, but you made comments concerning my article and my journalism that require a response.

To the extent that the thread became uncivil, it was your doing–you immediately posted a snide comment about the article, then quickly followed up with a dig at the retailers I cited and a dig at me. The retailers can defend themselves. I would only note that your broadside against Posner and Hayward was as nonsensical as it was unjustified. Yes, retailers are in the business of selling wine. But how exactly did it profit Posner and Hayward to tell me that they were having difficulty moving high-end Australian wines? Can you explain to me the conflict of interest in this case–how their businesses stood to gain from sharing that information? If you were suggesting that Posner and Hayward have axes to grind when it comes to Australian wines, that’s demonstrably false. Posner maintains a very large Australian portfolio, and Hayward, if I’m not mistaken, was championing Australian wines when Robert Parker’s seat at the Farm Credit Banks was still warm. Are you of the opinion that journalists should just never solicit the views of retailers?

Regarding your critique of my journalism, you claimed that I went fishing for quotes that would fit my argument. To begin with, I wasn’t making an argument, and for you to suggest as much indicates that you didn’t actually read my column. The article was a reported piece; the only commentary came at the end, when I said it was a pity so many people seem to have written off Australia entirely. But the bigger issue here is that you made a damning accusation concerning my work, yet offered no proof to substantiate it. As a journalism major–a summa cum laude graduate, no less–didn’t you feel obliged to offer some supporting evidence for your assertion? It is one of the cardinal rules of journalism–if you make a claim, you have to back it up. Can you back up what you said about my reporting? If not, then you owe me a public apology.

In case you are interested, I decided to pursue this story last fall, after coming across data showing a huge drop in sales of blue-chip Australian wines and hearing from both Jeff Zacharia and Peter Gago that high-end Australia was a moribund category (do they have axes to grind?) I called Chuck because The Jug Shop is renowned for its Australian inventory, and I called Daniel because hardly a week goes by in which I’m not receiving offers on Australian wines from his store. I gather, from your remarks, that you think this story–the crisis of the Australian wine industry–is a bogus one. If you can prove that, I’d certainly be impressed, because the statistical and anecdotal evidence is pretty overwhelming. I know you write for the Wine Advocate now, but do you read it? If so, you may have noticed that your colleague Jay Miller has an essay in the current issue about–yes–the crisis of the Australian wine industry, in which he makes many of the same points that I made in my article (Jancis Robinson even cited Jay’s essay in the piece she did for the Financial Times last week on this same topic). Unless you had something substantive to add to the discussion about my article, there was no reason for you to chime in; your only contribution was snark, and your decision to delete the thread smacks of a censoriousness that is truly dismaying coming from someone who graduated journalism school summa cum laude.

Regarding unbiased sources, I must confess that I’m a little confused, too, and maybe you can help me understand something. I couldn’t help but notice that while you were busy impugning my integrity and the integrity of the retailers I cited, there was an active thread about a visit to Bern’s involving Eric Solomon, Patrick Mata, Jose Pastor, and one Jay Miller. Was this the same, aforementioned Jay Miller who covers Spain for the Wine Advocate? From the picture that was posted, it would appear to be so, and I’m thus a bit perplexed. Eric, Patrick, and Jose are importers of Spanish wines. I’ve always taken Bob at his word that the Wine Advocate scrupulously avoids potential conflicts of interest. How does Jay’s Weekend at Bern’s square with that policy? You would surely agree that there is more to journalistic independence than not accepting advertising–that conflicts of interest can arise in other ways. Bob conceded as much after he caught flak for that dinner in Bordeaux with Alain Raynaud, Gerard Perse, and Michel Rolland, and Jay’s road trip with these importers strikes me as a far more egregious ethical lapse. Can consumers continue to regard Jay as an impartial judge when it comes to wines imported by Eric, Patrick, and Jose? Since you are clearly very attuned to issues of journalistic malfeasance, I’m curious to get your take on this matter. Thanks.

Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 12:19:32 -0700
From: msquires
Subject: Re:
To: mhsteinberger

>>Can you back up what you said about my reporting? If not, then you owe me a public apology. << Your arguments here are as bad as your article, which was a regurgitated version of what has been circulating for the last couple of years. Like I said--I have no interest in debating this. Which you should consider a very good thing, as I'm both a pretty good debater and awfully knowledgeable about every aspect of the subject matter, in general and in specific. But I have better things to do with my time. Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 12:22:13 From: msquires Subject: Re: To: mhsteinberger >>Can consumers continue to regard Jay as an impartial judge when it comes to wines imported by Eric, Patrick, and Jose<< By the way, one final note. If you think this reprehensible mud-slinging intended to divert attention from yourself does you a service, or makes me want to talk you, you have seriously misjudged the situation. You change the subject and attack someone. It's an obvious and well scorned tactic. Good luck with that. If you have a question about ethics in the WA, you talk to Bob. I have no interest in talking to you about anything at any time. From: mhsteinberger To: msquires Subject: RE: Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2009 21:23:52 -0400 Yes, it probably is a good thing for me that you have neither the time nor the inclination to continue this discussion. If, by debating skills, you mean an aptitude for hitting the delete button in order to make opposing views disappear, you very clearly are a master of the form. And given that you are now an eminent wine critic, I wouldn’t think to challenge your knowledge. But I do have two questions for you. You now accuse me of regurgitating a story that has been “circulating for the last couple of years,” as you put it. The data, and all the anecdotal evidence, indicate that sales of high-end Australian wines in the United States have tanked in the last 12-18 months. Can you point me to an article from, say, 2005, that claimed that the market for these wines had completely dried up? And if I am guilty of regurgitating an old story, would you agree that your colleague Jay is guilty of the same thing? As I noted in my previous email, his article in the current issue of the Wine Advocate (“Australia 2009: Into The Abyss”) makes the same points I made in my Slate piece. Lastly, if I did indeed recycle old news, you should immediately contact the Sydney Morning Herald to let them know; they emailed over the weekend to inquire about possibly reprinting my article.

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134 Responses to “The X’d files: an exchange not seen on”

  1. Wow! Just wow. MS has really been defrocked and shown as sully, bitter and self-important man. He would have made a fantastic mid-20th century, 3rd world country dictator.

  2. A spirited debate, for sure, but I’d argue that the folks moderating their boards should be the journalists themselves. (With proper community training, of course.)

    Every time a journalist writes a story, an environment for discussion is created. If that environment is not properly regulated, the conversation can spiral out of control, which doesn’t benefit the end users.

    Perhaps the moderation was heavy-handed, but this is a prime example of why it should be done by the reporters and/or editors, rather than other folks.

  3. I did not go to journalism school, hell I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn last night, but I do know how to moderate a forum. A light touch and a guiding hand will work better than the heavy fist and dictatorial edict. It’s a shame really, there are some nice folk there, like Jorge, and it used to be a civil place to talk about wine. Now it’s over-moderated and they wonder why there is such push-back.

    Gregory Dal Piaz
    Community Manager

  4. Absolutely beautiful to see that alas….the Emperor has no clothes…and no class for that matter. Well done and thank you for publishing the emails…Squires says the same things over and over – I wont debate it…but I COULD debate you even after I play my 4 hours of tennis AND do the elliptical for 2…

  5. Who has been kicked off that board? No one I know.

  6. This is such old news. Totally rehashed story from at least a couple years ago. The story I am talking about is Mark squires. His debating skills are legendary. First, take issue with someone who disagrees with him. Then, delete his argument. Then IF that person has the nerve to e-mail him and question his “tactics”, you insult that person and explain that you are a journalist….no, a TOP journalist. Then, throw in that you are a tennis pro, a world class elliptical machine workout artist, great taste in women he has never dated, but HAS dreamed about, is a great debater (just ask him), and attorney of world renowned proportion, and all around great in everything…..BUT, gee, his only job is running a wine board for Robert Parker???

    I’d vote comedian.

  7. Tremendous read, Tyler. It is no secret that zeor controversy exists in print in the wine world. Blogs are the only place to find discussion like this, so it is extra chilling to see that eBob has no tolerance for reasoned dissent.

  8. On April 15th, 2009 at 1:36 pm ,Lyle Fass wrote:

    Who has been kicked off that board? No one I know.

    No one of small importance. 😉

  9. I wish I could say that I’m surprised, but I’m not.

    That board is useless for people who are truly passionate about wine and want to have open, honest discussions and debates.

    That’s what is so great about blogs (or even properly maintained forums): people can disagree with the owner/author, but if he’s worth anything, he won’t delete entire threads or censor dissenting comments.

    This is par for the course. Squires is a self-absorbed half-wit. Kudos to you, Tyler and to Steinberger for not letting him get away with it.

  10. Oh, snap! Just love a good internet fight.

  11. Incredible exchange, very sad, really. For Parker to retain credibility he would have to fire Squires.

    Thanks for reporting this.

  12. I’m ACTUALLY laughing out loud right now, Neil.

    We KNOW that ain’t gonna happen 😉

  13. I’m not at all surprised – however, being one of the many who has been ‘kicked’ from General Mao’s forum, I can’t say my reaction is entirely unbiased. In addition, while I also graduated summa cum laude, it was not in journalism, or debating, or tennis, or elliptical, so I couldn’t give a fair or educated opinion in any regard.

    His immediate dismissal and refusal to debate speaks volumes of his tremendous debating skills, to be sure, and I’m particularly fond of the consistency he provides in demeaning and degrading others, from atop his pedestal.

  14. Thanks for posting this. Really unbelievable stuff. If I hadn’t seen it happen before (or experienced it) I would think you are making it up.

    I wonder how much damage the bored is starting to do to Parker’s reputation?

  15. Thank you Mike for letting Tyler post this and thanks for posting this Tyler.
    Just like developing a relationship with your local butcher, developing a relationship with a good retailer is one of the best ways to get great wines and great service. Combine that with reading several publications, keeping an open mind and drinking LOTS of wine, within a few years you will be very proud of your cellar.
    I think that speaking to those who are respected members in wine world in every area – from winemakers, to retailers to journalists – can be beneficial to the consumer. This is sometimes lost because of good intentions of impartiality in reporting. Rule number one in journalism, everyone is biased. Since I did not see the thread I don’t know how uncivil it got but it seems like Mark overreacted. That said I do appreciate the fact that the Parker board isn’t a free for all but I also think those of us in the biz have to walk on egg shells for fear of being considered a sleazy retailer.
    I am saddened that Mark feels he needs to show off his degrees and grades instead of talking about the issues like someone with his credentials/intelligence should. I hope he finds the time to respond here. I always think that there are two sides and his unwillingness to fully defend his actions creates an air of suspicion that I think is counter productive and ultimately silly. Transparency is also important in journalism as well as in roles in which a person has unbalanced power – like a moderator of a popular internet forum.

    So Mike and Tyler, your balanced opinions and openness to the public is appreciated by this ITBer and keep up the great work! You guys are a big part of the new consumer advocates of the wine media.

    At the end of the day can’t we all just drink some wine together and get along! Life is just too short…

    All the Best,
    Chris Cottrell
    Crush Wine & Spirits

  16. Not surprising in the least. Squires is a delusional, self-important old hag.

  17. Par for the course with Mr. Mark Squires, fickle master of the universe at eBob. His decisions to delete threads, boot people off the board, and close/cut off interesting discussions are legendary for their arbitrary, even vindictive and petty nature.

  18. The problem, as ever, is that to be a good moderator, one must possess some measure of the quality inherent in the word.

  19. Thanks for sharing that!

    It’s funny that Squires has the job of moderation. He’s much more Lou Dobbs than Larry King.

    And he may have graduated summa cum laude but he still fell for PLAYMOBIL WINE BAR STIRS OUTRAGE. Doh!

  20. It is typical of the entire tenor of Steinberger’s correspondence that he makes this private exchange public, not that I feel embarrassed by it. It is who he is. It is also a disgrace to this Dr. Vino website that it would publish private correspondence. I guess Dr. Vino indeed is someone who desperately needs to attract attention to himself and can’t find another way to do it.

  21. Mark, once again you sit in judgement of another’s intentions. I find this par for the course that you insist you know more about someone’s intent than they do.

    I’m pleased, however, that you do not feel embarassed by the public posting of this correspondence – I, for one, would be.

  22. Sounds like Dr. Vino just got banned from the eRobertParker site…

    @Mark Squires, If you have an argument as to why there is such heavy “regulation” of your boards, then why not make it? You don’t answer Steinberger’s question or critique in the exchange above, and you don’t answer it here. Granted, you’ve come under some ad hominem attack here in the comments, but that doesn’t make the logic of the original critiques any less valid.

    And what does Bob think about this? Is he of the Donald Trump school of thought, wherein all press is good press? Or does he care more about the reputation of his good name, that arguably is taking a beating because of your heavy-handed moderation of his site?

  23. I thought the practice of bringing up that you graduated summa cum laude ended promptly at 23 when you entered the real world?

  24. I TOLD you squires was a comedian!!! Imagine, this nutcase came here and posted a wacko response here. IF squires would like to actually debate (since he is Soooo great at it), how about he joins in with multiple posts with interaction guaranteed.

    There is no way this clown would have an honest debate with anyone in public. His skills stop cold if he cannot delete, and ban people from speaking. Squires, you are useless. Go back to your imaginary world.

  25. Why not publish private correspondence? It shows the real Squires. Inconsistency is par for the course with no response or recource allowed

  26. Thanks for posting this, Dr. Vino. Transparency is good for us all…

  27. I’m wondering why Mr. Parker seems to content to have the BB moderated
    this way?

  28. Mark Squires, has gone over the top so many times, this just another one of the many examples that already exist. I’m still astonished by the people I know, intelligent, who still participate on that board. Can’t we create something better elsewhere?

    I was active, very active, up until about 4 yrs ago, when Mark, and his dictator like actions, made me decide not to stick around.

    Robert Parker and the board as a whole are only tarnished by his participation/’moderation’ on this ‘forum’.

    Thank you Mike and Dr.Vino for showing this to us.

  29. Thank you, Tyler, for continuing to provide an interesting and vital contribution to the world of wine. It is easy to see why your blog is widely considered among the very best in our field.

  30. Ryan, there is another, not run this way at all.

    Click my name to be taken there. Many of those who are frustrated with these very actions are already well settled in there. Come join us!

  31. I enjoyed reading the details of the exchanges between Outside Wine World and Inner Sanctum.

    This should be an industry where wine should stand on it’s own credentials and nobody should be allowed to vote down anyone else’s learned opinions.

    The “delete” button’s use is inexcusable!

  32. I did not read the deleted thread on the Squires/Parker Forum, and so can’t comment on its contents.

    I have read Mr. Steinberger’s article about Australian wines on Slate, and found it generally accurate and unremarkable. In fact, it echoes in large part an analysis posted in August, 2008, on (,1197,4558,00.html); both pieces even quote Chuck Hayward of the Jug Shop.

    However, unlike Wine Spectator’s story, Mr. Steinberger seemed to go out of his way to attribute some significant portion of Australia’s woes to their embrace of “a rendering of shiraz that Robert Parker happens to adore;” that embrace has led to slumping sales, since “consumers have now soured on this genre.”

    This may or may not be the case, but it may be one reason Mr. Squires found the article objectionable. After all, he works for Mr. Parker.

    I do not intend to defend Mr. Squires in this instance; certainly the published email exchange does not present him in a favorable light. However, I do know that it is difficult to maintain civility in an open Forum, and we at Wine Spectator struggle to maintain a balance between free expression and productive discussion. And I will say that I think the Parker/Squires Forum has been the site of many interesting discussions about wine.

    In that light, I do think several of the comments on this thread fall into the “uncivil” category. Why so eager to attack and condemn? Why not focus on the plight of Australian wine in the US? That’s much more relevant to wine lovers than a spat between critics.

    Thomas Matthews
    Executive editor
    Wine Spectator

  33. I moderate the Snooth forum. I invite you all to check it out and join me in building a civil and informed community on the world’s largest wine site.

    Gregory Dal Piaz
    Community Manager

  34. Seriously, this is too funny… The “summa cum laude” bit is an instant classic. And the “I’m a great debater” as well.

    Thanks, Tyler, for posting this. It’s an invaluable backstage view. I gather the thread about Dr. Miller’s junket with the importers was also deleted from the Parker forum (I’ve never participated in it and prefer to avoid it, though news of it tends to get to me second-hand). At least we have Mr. Steinberger’s description of its contents here, for reference. Not as good as the actual thing, but hey, it still serves those of us who have to keep up with all that influences the fate of so much Spanish wine.


    El bloguero ése

  35. I applaud the exposure of this menace to wine discussions. The menace I speak of is the censorship regularly enforced, in a biased manner, by Squires and his posse of moderators. I was a long time contributor on the eRP BB and found it an exceptional source for discussion from many facets of the business and consumer end. It has saddened me to witness in the last few years a significant and distinctly heavy handed form of censorship. I am currently moderated because I questioned why one of Squires moderators, Jeff Leve made a post entitled “Have you had a wine with more wood than Pinocchio or John Holmes? I did… Blech….”. Mr Leve remarked after many questioned his judgment, “It’s all in fun. It’s just wine and wine is supposed to be fun”. I asked Mr Leve, to “Please explain how comparing a wine to a porn star, who died of AIDS no less, is to be considered fun”. That post was deleted and got me sanctioned. I exchanged emails with Squires too. He would not and probably could not, offer me any reason, valid or otherwise, as to why I am being censored. Decompensation is a sad thing.

  36. DAMN! What a helluva debate that was! I just don’t get Mark Squires’ rants. And why have a forum if you’re going to boot people off of it. I consider David Schildknect one of my wine mentors, and I feel awfully sorry for him sharing cyberspace with a gnarled-up twat like Squires. And what’s with the editor of Spectator chiming in? Wow! That’s just weird. Steinberger has to enjoy his snide comment about the Slate article being “unremarkable.” Debates can be civil in an online forum, no doubt about it, and people can take things TOO seriously and act up and be bratty little bitches about their points, but when you shut a discussion down because you just don’t like where it’s going AND delete the friggin’ thing so NO ONE ELSE can participate – that’s what a CHILD does when he/she doesn’t get what he/she wants. It’s called a TANTRUM. Is it time for a time out Squires?

  37. Wow. Just….wow. But let’s be honest – Parker isn’t relevant anymore. The emperor has no heir to pass his throne to, only a court full of jesters and clowns. Anyone think Miller and Squires still have wine careers after Monsieur Parker is gone?

  38. I had recently publicly stated that the established wine specialty print publications are adopting Web 2.0 at different speeds.

    While I still feel that the Robert Parker brand is attempting to do this with its forum, the issues at the core of this controversy sadly fly against the *essence* of Web 2.0.

  39. BRAVO!!! This should be REQUIRED reading for all fans of wine. It is attitudes like this that keep up the negative wine snob images in the public eye.

  40. I ran out of popcorn midway through the thread 🙂 Tyler & Mike thanks for bringing this to the surface.

    For those who want to share their wine passion and have an honest to goodness debate come on over to the Enobytes forum. We encourage open, honest debates and I promise not to delete your thread.

    Besides, we’d love the company. Well, unless of course you are a spammer.

    Pamela Heiligenthal
    Enobytes Co-Founder / Editor

  41. Love that Mark is getting taken to task for his childish behavior. Of course, I’m not going to use my real name here because if I did I’m sure he would ban me from posting on the Parker board. Bob Parker must be quite a loyal friend of Mao Squires as anyone else would have canned his sorry self years ago.

  42. I would like to thank Tyler and Mike for this. Mike first contacted me about the plight of Australian wines in the US, as I have rendered quite a strong opinion on it in the past. It is great to work with such professionals like Mike and Tyler. Mark Squires’ post here only shows his true colors even further. While I still post on the Parker board, because I do find many interesting discussions, the most interesting discussions are ultimately the ones that get deleted and that no one sees. While Thomas Matthews raises the point of why Mark is being discussed as opposed to Australian wine, I urge you, Thomas, to find a copy of the original thread that was banished. That discussion was taking place. I was called biased by someone and then Mark piled on and basically said I had no credibility to speak on the subject of Australian wines due to my bias. How a retailer who speaks poorly on reviews of wine is biased is the real mystery. I went on to question potential biases wine critics have. Wine critics who accept free trips, free meals, free hotel stays, free vacations, free lifestyles from importers, wineries, Chateaus, Bodegas, Domaines, etc. Mark never answered my question of who was more biased than that and the thread was deleted shortly after that. Our industry is full of corrupt individuals. I am proud to say that I am not one of them.

    As was said on the original thread, “People who live in glass houses, should not throw stones.”

    Daniel Posner

  43. what is going on?

  44. Thanks for publishing this correspondence. I, for one, think that Parker should separate himself from the board in question. Threads are taken downquickly if there is a hint of criticism towards Parker but other content (ranging from in bad taste to clearly libelous) is left up. Seems like two lawyers would know of Stratton Oakmont, Inc. et al. v. Prodigy Services Company…

  45. […] Przebinda, from and, sent me the April 15 post from Dr. Vino concerning the brouhaha (I love that word) over at (and this sentence gets the […]

  46. On April 15th, 2009 at 3:29 pm ,Mark Squires wrote: …It is also a disgrace to this Dr. Vino website that it would publish private correspondence…

    Valid point, but I personally find censorship equally disgraceful, and more damaging to society.

  47. The Wine Spectator forum is far, *far* worse. I’ve watched their moderators join in on discussions that clearly violate the forum’s participation policies…

  48. Holy cow, you just have to love a good cat fight. I did not read the thread in question, but wish I had. I miss all the good stuff. 

    The irony of the comments posted here has not been lost on me. It never ceases to amaze me how these controversial threads degenerate from debates about the issue in question, to personal attacks against the poster. Once the tone of a thread starts moving in that direction, it’s hard to stop it and IMHO, the thread becomes more entertaining than informative.

    I have no idea what was in Mr Squires mind when he deleted the thread. Is it possible that he is attempting to squash any whiff of a challenge to his positions? Sure, that is a distinct possibility. However, there is another perfectly reasonable explanation for his decision. Perhaps he felt that the thread was spinning out of control and becoming a spectacle of kids throwing rocks at each other? A subjective call for sure, but his to make.

    I love spirited, civil, intelligent debates (in my home or on the WEB). I think the line is rather clear and unambiguous. If such a discussion becomes “personal” it has crossed the line. Debate the subject not the poster.

    Many moderators consider their boards like extensions of their home. Personal attacks have a tendency to create a toxic atmosphere for others even if they are not direct participants. As “hosts” we have a responsibility to our “guests” to create a welcoming, warm environment. Sometimes it is necessary to offend a few to accomplish that goal for the majority.

  49. The passion inspired by this thread is clearly about more than the original topic. It is about tolerance of free expression in, as Arthur calls it, Web 2.0.

    And I find it extremely laughable that Tom Matthews has jumped in to the fray. For the record, I was banished from Wine Spectator’s online forums for pointedly but respectfully challenging James Laube — in response to blog entry on Randy Dunn’s 2007 open letter on high alcohol levels in California Cab, which was no more than an artful dodge of the underlying issue of whether high alcohol corresponded to high scores. My sin was asking (as Randy Dunn had) why Wine Spectator would not publish alcohol levels along with prices and case production in their reviews. Instead of a reasoned response, I got banned and every comment I had ever made disappeared into ether.

    Bottom line: the blogosphere is the only place where real wine discussions are happening. Publications with blogs and forums are still behind the curve; and the incidents above suggest they will always be one barb away from putting self-interest ahead of free speech.

  50. “For Parker to retain credibility, Squires would have to be fired.”

    The email conversation I had with Parker a few years back indicates that he fully supports Squires’ heavy-handed approach to forum moderation.

  51. Mark and his great debating skills:

    Have his lap dog Leve delete/change people’s posts that counter or question whatever the two of them have said. After that, enter a really helpful comment attacking the poster(s) and lock the thread.


    Delete the whole thread and act like it never happened.

    Perfect debating skill set that Squires has and Uncle Bob sanctions under his name. Kinda like the myriad emails and PM’s that I have seen where he says not to contact him in regard to anything anymore. If he were such a great debater, he would welcome the conversation.



    Oh, and nice shirts Mark.

  52. Jim, how is deleting posts and having Leve change his own posts ad naseum to serve his own goal of not looking stoopid moderation? They moderate nothing…instead, they use a totalitarian method of squashing people that they feel offer no real content or contribution.

    A PM from the leader indicated that I was the most subversive element there and that I drew more complaints than anyone. I find that hard to believe that I cause more emails than Leve.

  53. Jay Selman wrote:
    “The irony of the comments posted here has not been lost on me. It never ceases to amaze me how these controversial threads degenerate from debates about the issue in question, to personal attacks against the poster. Once the tone of a thread starts moving in that direction, it’s hard to stop it and IMHO, the thread becomes more entertaining than informative.”

    Squires refused to debate anyting…either on Parkers site OR over here. The personal attacks are regurgitations (isn’t that how the Summa Dim Laude “Journalist” describes it?) from past attacks on his part, followed by deletion of your posts and your membership to every respond.

    Jay Selman Writes:”

    “I have no idea what was in Mr Squires mind when he deleted the thread.”

    Nor does anyone else, hence the reason they try to reach out to get an explaination, only to be abuse, dismissed insulted, told that he does not want to discuss it or debate it, even though he is a GREAT debater so be careful…..and also threatens you with any further contact to him on this matter will be met with banishment…. and then told all the education he has had….but seemingly has forgotten or tossed aside.

    “Is it possible that he is attempting to squash any whiff of a challenge to his positions?”

    Possible??? Um, this is a given.

    “However, there is another perfectly reasonable explanation for his decision. Perhaps he felt that the thread was spinning out of control and becoming a spectacle of kids throwing rocks at each other? A subjective call for sure, but his to make.”

    Jay, the kids throwing rocks?? That is Squires. He always comes into these threads, makes snide, offensive remards, focuses on one of the people and insults them, abuses them, and then shuts the thread. No one is throwing rocks, until Squires brings his rock collection and fires away.

    “I love spirited, civil, intelligent debates (in my home or on the WEB). I think the line is rather clear and unambiguous. If such a discussion becomes “personal” it has crossed the line. Debate the subject not the poster.”

    Um….try explaining that to Squires, but be careful. You will get insulted, abused, told how little you know about running a board, and then tell you not to contact him again. The person who does 90% of the “getting personal” is squires. The others are just standing up as a human being.

    “Many moderators consider their boards like extensions of their home. Personal attacks have a tendency to create a toxic atmosphere for others even if they are not direct participants. As “hosts” we have a responsibility to our “guests” to create a welcoming, warm environment. Sometimes it is necessary to offend a few to accomplish that goal for the majority.”

    The toxic atmosphere is squires. Period. This has been proven over and over. And it reflects terribly on the HOST….Robert Parker. It is a shame that he is allowing his name and product to be slowly degraded.

    IF one were to do a search and some ahem….journalistic research, one would find that well over 80% of all threads deleted or locked, where because squires decided ahead of time that he did not like the thread, the persons posting in it and what it was trying to say…..and would come in and basically blow up the thread and turn it into a mudslinging rock throwing insultathon. Hosts like THAT end up not having to worry about hosting anything. NO one will come.

    Build it and they will come. Screw it up and act like a jackass, and, as you see, they will leave. Pretty simple.

  54. And while we are on the subject of censorship:

    I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of the Board Members over there have no idea that Chairman Mao has several people on “double secret probation” where every single post of their’s has to cross his computer and be approved by him before being seen by the collective. This is the absolute definition of censorship and I find it rather odd that as a paid subscriber, that I am subject to that little rule of his.

    If my, or other’s, post isn’t congruent with Squires’ mood of the day, it never sees the light of day. Wonder if Bob knows this is happening with his paid (long time) subscribers? If so, shame on him for not fostering open debate and comment on the world of wine.

  55. As one of many ebob participants regularly censored by Mr. Squires, I can attest to the decline of free speech and open debate on Mr. Parker’s board. I personally think that state of decline reflects very poorly on Mr. Parker. Sad, but true.

  56. Dear Anti-Mao:

    Yes, Mr.Parker is aware. He chooses not to do anything about it, apparently. Sad, but true.

  57. It sure is interesting to see the commonality that exists among the many current and former forum members.

    Mark – do you see a trend here? Could you perhaps consider that the voices of many (as I tried to convince you of previously, met with demeaning and otherwise degrading or insulting replies) are indeed true?

  58. As a regular participant on another wine board (and boards on other subjects), I have to say this whole thing is nothing new. Whether it is wine, politics, woodworking, or table tennis, the moderator eventually gets involved, people complain of bias, some threaten to leave, some actually leave. It apparently happens at the Spectator’s board, and I have no doubt that someone, sometime will push a button over at Snooth or even the Wineberserker board, and the same debate will ensue.

    I’m not defending Mr. Squires’ personal style, but I’ve seen how boards without moderation turn into playpens. Humans run these things, and humans will make mistakes. At some point, we all have to just decide that we do or don’t enjoy the benefits of the forum and its rules enough to spend our leisure time there.

  59. Oh, and one more thing….

    It’s a good bet that Mark has the ability to read PM’s on his site. Several private conversations and messages seem to have become known to him.

  60. The thread was deleted because I was called biased and I fought back, challenging the bias of critics. Rather than answer that question, Mark chose to delete the thread. His prerogative, but it has raised eyebrows as to the bias of critics that accept free meals, free vacations, free winery stays, etc.

  61. Gene – the difference, however, in many other forums, is that the moderators and/or admins respect the other members and their opinions. I think the core of the issue represented here is a misuse of privileges for personal gain.

  62. Gene,

    Understood on the need for moderation…completely. My problem, as well as others that I personally know, is no even set of rules applied to all members of HIS community on the EBOB board. Of course things spiral down in regard to politics, religion, etc. If HE or LEVE have an issue with what you post, THEY creatively make things go away. I have screen shots of things LEVE has posted and five minutes later, it is completely different b/c someone called him on it.

    I violate no TOS on the site, and yet I am on DSP for asking a question. That isn’t moderation…that is insecure censorship to bolster one’s own ego and control issues.

    BTW, nice shirts Mark.

  63. I just wanted to comment here as well that I am not surprised at Mark Squires response. Although, I also graduated Summa Cum Laude from a prestigious university (not in journalism, but in health care), I do not find it necessary to flaunt or tell anyone about my accomplishments especially in the context of deeming myself credible. It seems though that this is the trend on eBob’s moderators / tasters (ie: M.Squires, VIP Extraordinaire and Dr. Jay Miller. I have known many accomplished physicians and surgeons throughout my career who have retired to another profession both public and nonpublic, never have I heard the likes of one of my colleagues insisting on being called Doctor outside of the realm of practicing medicine. This seems odd to me but what the heck, since Jay Miller seems to need the public acknowledgment… so be it.

    But more importantly is the seemly unbiased opinions he (Jay Miller) has with the big Spanish Wine Importers. I find it strikingly interesting the number of wines submitted for review to this gentleman that in-spite of excellent ratings by other expert tasters (Tanzer, Penin, etc.) awards of Gold and Silver in some of the prestigious wine competitions on both US and Spanish soil, many of these wine are never mentioned or credited. It would be very interesting to see how many of the 727 Spanish Wines reviewed by the good Psychiatrist, how many are currently imported into the US are imported by Eric Solomon, Patrick Mata, Jose Pastor? Hey doc, perhaps it is time for some analysing?

  64. I’m not saying that I agree with Mr. Squires, but just that FWIW (and that may be nothing) I have seen this same discussion played out, with the same arguments, over and over since boards came about. A new site starts. A few years later, the sponsor thinks, “this is not what I intended,” and we are having this discussion. These boards are living things, and like nature, hard to control properly and ethically.

  65. It is disturbing to be reminded that there are sycophants out there who will offer to do whatever, say whatever to protect their idol in an ongoing, ambitious effort to assert their own authority and fortify their measly position.

    Note to Julius Caesar: Beware of Brutus.

  66. Et tu, Brutus? Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

    All we need now is a deleted EBob thread regarding Rockaway.

  67. Tish,

    We come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

  68. chapeau, Tyler, for posting this…

  69. Hi all –

    Thanks for contributing to this important discussion. It is fascinating to see so many people chiming in with so much to say.

    I understand passions run high, but please remember that we are discussing the issue of moderation and censorship on As reprehensible as you feel someone’s actions are, please comment on the actions themselves; personal attacks are not welcome here.

    As to Squires’s assertion about the appropriateness of publishing this correspondence, I would hasten to point out that he was corresponding with one of the foremost wine journalists today and nowhere in the exchange was there a request for privacy. As I stated in the original post, this conversation could have occurred on the eropbertparker forums had it not been deleted.


  70. […] his correspondence with moderator, Mark Squires, Mike Steinberger brought up the “Weekend at Bern’s,” a road trip to the Tampa Bay wine mecca, […]

  71. While I rarely post on ebob, I do find one thing about that board extraordinary and positive–real names. One should debate everything on the net as though it will be published and attributed to one’s real name. Mail (electronic or otherwise) to one with whom one is having a public debate should be considered in the same way.

  72. I just have to say one thing here…I love it when people put off an intelligent discussion by giving their “oh so great” credentials…and then not put them to good use and have a legitimate conversation. All of the politics that go on behind closed doors takes the romance out of wine and wine is my business. Sad.

  73. […] Wine Advocate brand, that issue is in the spotlight today. Yesterday, Tyler Coleman published an email exchange between Mark Squires and Slate’s Mike Steinberger over a deleted thread on the […]

  74. Hilarious. Thanks for this thread. Shows Squires up for what he really is – a man unable to take any opposition or criticism whatever. My information is that Parker pointed out the error of his ways once the big UK exit from the board happened, because he was causing very bad publicity for the Parker brand. PS I loved the “I have a degree in journalism, summa cum laude, btw.” comment! A degree in censorship, more likely.

  75. there seems to be a direct relationship between chest-pounding wine fetishism and grotesque sickening wines per se.

    doubt rises if and when I see my favorite wines the topic of discussion there. I scan it once a year maybe, for signs of resistance, but avoiding it has allowed me finally to clear my head and enjoy wine.

  76. […] Dr. Vino, aka Tyler Colman, has got it all right here. […]

  77. I am going to continue playing the devils advocate (pun intended). Why are some people posting here not using their full real name? If you are afraid of getting banned, I would ask why post at all? Why do people get so upset about a wine post being deleted? Go somewhere else I can understand, but to get all bent out of shape is an overaction. IMHO.

  78. Agreed, Jay…I find that those hiding behind code names here have far less impact on the argument. E-thugs…why hide?

  79. Agree Jay. For what it’s worth, the appointment of Dr Miller and Squires as WA critics was such a dilution of the Parker brand as to be embarrassing. Miller was a mate, and Squires was an employee whose skills certainly don’t extend to wine criticism with the authority to advise people what to buy.
    Dr Miller’s mate appointment is hilarious.
    For the record, I am a big Parker fan, and am very grateful to him for many great heads-up over the years, particularly in the Rhone.

    Squires is (and don’t quote me) a serious prat.

    Am amazed Parker stands behind those appointments.

  80. […] Aparte de mi cumpleaños, una entrevista que dí a otra revista en Chile y el artículo de Víctor de la Serna que estamos discutiendo en los comentarios a mi entrega anterior,  un reventón en la cultureta del vino me ha ocupado bastante en los últimos dos días. Me enteré de él gracias a Dr. Vino. […]

  81. Jay and Todd,

    Bill Landreth here.

  82. People hide behind pseudonyms because Squires abuses his real names policy and uses it as a tool to ban those who criticize him, Parker, or other aspects of TWA or ERP staff on other forums, in articles, etc.

    Despite his abusive approach to moderation, there are aspects of value in being able to participate there, so I can understand why some might wish to remain anonymous.

  83. I can’t believe what a TOOL Squires, well I actually I can, he is a complete and utter TOOL, what planet is he from?

  84. Though I support the real name policy at Ebob, and I believe every post you make anywhere should be written as though it will be attributed to your real name, there are good reasons not to use your real name on every board and blog. If you are a professional, and potential clients Google your name, you would prefer that the first thing that pops up is your professional site, rather than every comment, however respectful, that you have ever made about a hobby or avocation. The same can be said of Facebook or Myspace pages. I’ve chuckled more than once when I checked out an opposing attorney I don’t know, and the first thing that pops up is a Myspace page where he appears to be trolling for women.

  85. Thanks for posting this exchange. Mark Squires’ petty, egotistical responses disgust me. Perhaps Parker should fire him and hire someone who will act like a professional.

  86. The great point in the whole thing is that the thread got deleted only when Dan Posner raised issues of conflict of interest by wine critics being sent on trips and taken to dinners by importers. I was an original reader of the thread and it was going strong until Posner asked those questions. All of a sudden, it disappeared.

    The “spirited?” “mud-slinging? “silly?” correspondence between Mark and Mike are engaging in the same way an accident might be, but to me, the real (and not to be missed) point is the issue of conflict of interest in the world of wine criticism by people who profess to adhere to the highest standard.

  87. Conflicts of interest, real or apparent, in the wine world is a topic that is not acceptable for discussion according to Mr. Squires. It is censored on Ebob.

    What do the apparent conflicts of interest by those who work for Mr. parker, whether moderators or critics, do to Mr. Parker’s reputation?

  88. Yeah, I totally agree with all of this. i like the eBob board, where else can you really talk wine with people all the time. There are other boards out there, but none handle anywhere near the volume. But Mark is ridiculous. He reacts with immediate vitriol to anything that disagrees with his positions. He is childish in his rebukes, holding himself up as some sort of paragon of wine knowledge that no other should dare to take a different view. How exactly do you get the Bulgaria beat? Well it isn’t by being the best. In any case, I just hate to see such an oppressive quashing of what would be some of the most lively topics if allowed to fully run.

    Also, we’ve all seen the writing on the wall about Australia. We’ve discussed it right here recently. They’ve done it to themselves. And they sold a lot of wine for a bit. But let’s face it, it was a fad and they need to reinvent themselves in new and intriguing ways. And that might mean that whole wine regions are going to be out of the occasion, unless they can develop techniques to make more balanced, fresher wines. Not only are the wines in the heavy style not the best possible product, but they are also not in keeping with an ever-more health conscious and food-educated public, at least in my opinion.

    Thanks for bringing this up Doc!

  89. Thank you for posting this Tyler. If Squires would have let Steinberger defend his article on the thread, or even given him an explanation as to why the thread was deleted in the first place I doubt that this correspondence would have ever been put up on DrVino. But since Squires left Steinberger with no method or means to defend his article…posting the emails seems to be fair game.

  90. With all of the constant criticism about the forum, I’m surprised that erobertparker does not move to a community rated comment system. has a great one and other websites like the NYTimes and Digg implement more basic versions. It seems that allowing the community to monitor itself is the most effective way to keep inflammatory posts to a minimum (or at least diminish their standing), as well as maintain dialogue. Allowing an administrator to have all the power seems foolish at best.

  91. Michael, these “balanced, fresher style” Australian wines already exist. There is an entire country full of amazing wines and many of those amazing wines are in the US. Australia has a proud viticultural history with a diverse wine landscape… to say Australia is just “big, fruit-forward wine” (as I see written on a daily basis) indicates a lack of understanding of the breadth of Australia’s wine production.

    I think many wine writers would do well to stop quoting each other about “Australia’s situation” and actually provide constructive comment and review the other amazing wines that are available… show consumers what else is out there. Isn’t that their job?

  92. This is an excellent point. I think the focus on the “Australian” wine situation has certainly tended to be on Shiraz. One of the problems, from my perspective, is not that the “big, fruit-forward wine” style has fallen out of favor per se but rather that lower priced options from Australia deliver almost as much so that they’ve made the value of paying up dubious.

    Certainly there are many overpriced ooze-monsters that are essentially undrinkable coming from Australia but this is not a uniquely Australian problem.

    When I was in retail I always tried to get people to try Australian Riesling (some of the greatest riesling around), Stickies, and more restrained styles of reds but honestly they were a hard sell. Though the Rieslings did generate an unusually high number of repeat customers! So yes the “balanced, fresher” style is out there, it’s just very difficult to convince folks that they should be trying them.

    As far as the rest of this discussion goes I have to say this has been one of the high points of my week! Great to see the exchange of opinions and ideas here. I wish the respect for divergent opinions found here was more universal.

    Gregory Dal Piaz
    Community Manager

  93. Right, examples of these “ooze monsters” can be found from producers around the globe, Australia doesn’t have the corner on that market.

    Bone-dry rieslings are one of Australia’s great wine treasures, as is semillon.

  94. As an Australian, the above exchange is quite interesting. The only thing I know about Mr Parker is that he is no longer welcome in at least one Australian winery after tasting some limited release wines which they DID NOT want him to provide a note/score for in the WA. He agreed to their request and then reneged when he was safely ensconced once again in Maryland. That, I think, is the sum of Mr Parker’s integrity and ethics. Simply put, they are questionable. The day he starts tasting wines blind is the day he might begin to gain my respect. He scores labels, not wine.

  95. De deja vou all over again.

    I disagree with many of the opinions above!!

    Squires’ balanced opinions have been regularly written up on over the years. And I have to say that Mr Squires is a very balanced individual. He has a large chip on both shoulders, hence rendering himself perfect balanced to moderate his forum.

    His “issues” do deeper than just deleting posts. In the past, in one spirited debate with me, when he showed his true debating skills, and was exposed big time, he not only deleted many posts, but about 18 months later went back and edited the threads to show himself in a more positive light.

    That is the standard of not just censorship he employs, it shows the character of the person behind the moderator.

  96. […] Dr. Vi­n­o, aka Ty­le­r­ C­o­lman­, has go­t i­t all r­i­ght he­re­. […]

  97. Great read and greater comments. Thanks to all.

    your comment makes zero sense to me. could you please elaborate on your second and third paragraphs.

    I would like to read the journalistic prowess that Squires speaks of…


  98. GK,

    Much of the post was tongue in cheek Oz humour, which can be lost on our US friends, as we are two countries divided by a common language.

    These two posts on my site will explain all and show what I mean about the guys character.

    And if you want to have a laugh, read this one!

  99. A thread is active on the ebob forum right now started by Jay Miller and talking about Berns.

    A comment by one was misunderstood by another, who then said that this blog should not be named. It was a small reference- you would absolutely have to know what’s going on to have caught it. Just for fun I thought I’d warn against thread drift. Didn’t say the thread would be pulled, just warned that if folks wanted to discuss the restaurant, they had better stick to the topic.

    I was promptly deleted.

  100. @ TORB

    interesting reading on those links…

    I discovered the Serge story on your site; i always wondered what became of that guy serge…

  101. Hi all – I’ve been corresponding with Tom Matthews regarding my previous comment in this post about the Wine Spectator forums.

    I’ve subsequently apologized in the forum and to Tom, because by not providing the background of *why* I think the WS forums are worse, my comment simply comes off as a snide attack.

    I am sorry about that. If anyone wants to know why I don’t like the WS forums and called them a snake pit on my blog, you can check out the threads available here and see for yourself how I was treated:

    I don’t respect the forums any more than I did previously, but thanks to Tom reaching out to me I can understand fully why my comment could be perceived as a snide attack, so I’m officially saying that I’m sorry for that. I may really dislike some of the WS forum members, but I still believe that everyone, including those that treated me badly, deserve more respect than what I showed here via my comment.

  102. WOW, being involved in evey aspect of the wine business, from buying for large restaurant groups, serving to the customers and importing wines I learned one simple thing.


    All our palates are different so why do critics and others wish to ram down the throats of consumers their oppinions? in this case someones opinion on how the australian’s high end wine industry is falling apart has been taken to task. Those who work the industry should always keep an open mind and thrive to educate without imputing our personal preferences to those who wish to learn.

    Can you imagine how one dimentional a restaurant wine list would be if the buyer only bought what he/she liked? In my humble opinion Wine critics give us their take on wine but it does not imply that they are correct, the only reason they are sucessful is because of the large amounts of consumers who do not trust their palates, if they did the critic job would be obsolete.

    debate is a good thing but when it comes to wine everyone’s opinnion is correct.

  103. Just wanted to note that I’m not the same person as WINE DUDE above (not sure who that is) – I do however agree with *that* DUDE on a number of his comment points.


  104. Let´s go to the facts:

    US Customs reported that during the month of February 2009 AUSTRALIA increased 52.5% in volume over February 2008. AUSTRALIA was the leading wine exporter by volume in Feb 09, rising from 12.109.998 liters in Feb 08 to 18.473.908 liters in Feb 09. In value the country suffered a huge drop of -21.6%, from U$ 46.132.311 in Feb 08 to U$ 36.181.270 in Feb 09. The average cost per liter of U$ 1.95 FOB in Feb 09 is a record low for AUSTRALIA and considering that the Yellow Tail brand represents approx 50% of all Aussie wine exports to the US at an average price in the vicinity of U$2.40 FOB per liter, this would mean that the average price of the other 50% exported would be U$1.50 FOB. Wouldn´t this be considered almost “dumping”? In another category, AUSTRALIAN Bulk Table Wine ships out at U$0.98 a liter. Australian wine sales are definitely hurting. Everyone has written about this… but the drop to an average cost per liter of U$1.95 appears rather dramatic to me.

    Yellow Tail exports an estimated 8.4M cases a year or roughly 75.6M liters per year to the US. If we were to divide by 12 mos. It would work out to 6.6M liters/month of YT shipped to the US. However, we know not all months are even. So the 50% market share may not be accurate. Whatever the exact, exact amount, the YT monthly number is a significant amount.

    The U$36.181.270 reported in Feb 09 is the lowest amount reported in six years (since Feb 03, when U$32M was reported)

  105. I think Mr. Squires would be better off not participating in the forums he is supposed to be moderating. Doesn’t Mr. summa cum laude realize that by participating he loses any ability to rationally moderate? I’m not even talking about objectivity.

  106. Bob:

    I sent Robert Parker an email about 2 years ago on this very subject. My position was that Squires should recuse himself from moderating threads where he was deeply involved.

    The rather ironic reply I received was:

    “Regardless of whether he is the moderator or not, Mark has every right to express his opinion as strongly as other posters express their positions. Certainly his decisions about merging threads is usually the correct one and keeps the board more focused and efficient. I didn’t read everything in the long thread about inflated scores, but I did go through a number of the posts and read nothing that would encourage me to censor or criticize Mark or anyone else – just call me very liberal on issues of free speech.”

    I found this reply interesting in two ways:

    1) Parker dodged my point — I wasn’t asking for Squires to censor himself and not participate, but rather to recuse himself from moderating those threads. I replied and specifically made this very point, but I received no reply from Parker.

    2) Parker claims to be liberal on free speech, stating that he did not see things that would cause him to censor or edit posts in the applicable thread, and yet allows Squires to freely and regularly exercise heavy-handed censorial control over the forum hosted in the ERP website. It seems a rather disingenuous response to me.

  107. […] let’s provide a bit of background: A recent post on Tyler Coleman’s blog (Dr. Vino) explored a controversy on the forums, and in a comment on Tyler’s post I chimed […]

  108. […] The X’d files: an exchange not seen on – April 22, 2009 – Glad to see Squire outed (again) for his insane lack of restraint […]

  109. This is all mind-boggling. You’d think it involved something important, like the crashing of Chrysler or the imminent victory of the Taliban in Pakistan. What is clear that whatever respect I had for Robert Parker 30 years ago is long gone. He’s hired losers, and instead of firing them, he supports them. Sounds like George W.

  110. […] the forum. A very acerbic email exchange ensued between the two parties, which Colman posted to his blog. Basically, Squires questioned Steinberger’s journalistic […]

  111. This is piling on, but….

    I had a rather different type of censorship experience at eBob. Registered (in those days, access was instantaneous), then made a few posts, including a playful response to a winemaker friend and answering a question about a wine that no one else had answered yet.

    The next day I received a stern email from Mr. Squires informing me that my registration had been cancelled AND my perfectly good posts deleted because I had registered under an alias. Well, I had not, I had registered under my full real name–it’s just that my name’s unusual. The tone of his email implied that I’d been caught in the act of committing a heinous crime.

    Unaware at that time of Mr. Squires reputation and convinced there’d been some horrible misunderstanding, I responded quickly to assure Mr. Squires that my name was not an alias. He responded angrily that it was too, and our conversation escalated in much the way that his with Tyler did. I gave up in disgust.

    Must be hundreds of others like me who never even got the opportunity to be banned for “real” crimes!

  112. Has anyone commented on the Alice Feiring “incident”….??

    This is what happens when you try to type her name of the Parker board…

    Alice *******’s WOTY is the 2006 Clos Roche Blanche Touraine Pineau d’Aunis l’Arpente

    That’s just plain sick!

  113. An Innocent,

    Same thing happened to a mate of mine. Squires accused him of lying. He was accused of being me trying to register under an alias. Despite furnishing a heap of proof that he was not me, Squires in his capacity as God incarnate, and the infallible man, banned the other guy.

    Re the Alice **** post above, same thing happens if you type in TORB.

    I now honestly feel sorry for Mr Squires. Anyone exhibiting his behaviour has obviously got some extremely serious personal issues.

  114. just came across this thread … it is all shocking to me … i’ve been banned before by Mark, but it was always small stuff, mostly snipping about leve was at the heart of it…

    these sorts of issues of conflict of interest are not small. i hadn’t understood the discussion on the squires thread that was just closed until now. given rmp’s comments about meeting with jay tomorrow about ethical issues, i suspect this matter is not closed, and that rmp will either establish a new ethics policy (likely), or personnel changes will be made (unlikely) or both(equally unlikely). it will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next couple of days …

  115. ha ha! Mark Squires is such a tool!

  116. While I agree with the trend of these comments, I feel that many are too harsh.

    I’ve been a participant on Mark Squires’s Boards for more than 10 years, after reading some very good posts from him on a French website linked to the Revue des vins de France (MagnumVimum).

    I love his “real name” policy, and feel it should be adopted by all forums.

    I loved (note the past tense) his sense of humor, which seems to have disappeared, and had (again past tense) great discussions with him.

    Then things went south… a few months after his Forum became part of eBob.

    This is not a snide comment on Robert Parker for whom I have great admiration, even if chinks in his armor have become more and more apparent over the years (and I say this even if I’ve never been a fan of Burgundy or pinot noir…).

    Coming back to Mark Squires, I suspect that his Board became to big for its own britches and Mark changed, for the worse.

    I once sent him a private message expressing my concerns for his health and well-being, mentioning that he had become bitter.

    His answer was a threatening message: if I expressed my concerns publicly, I would be banned from his site.

    That was the beginning of the end. After all, a board which led Nigel Williams and his merry band of men (Charles Morgan et al) to self-exile is probably not a board I want to read on a regular basis, even if I still dip my toe once in a while…

    All is not bad, but it’s much worse than it used to be…

    PS: It’s still a paradigm of quality when compared to the Wine Spectator’s forum.

  117. I hate it when there’s no edit function.
    “…too big for its own britches” and not “…to big”.

    I’ll have to learn to read my message before posting.

    I hate this :-)))

  118. a degree in journalism, summa cum laude, btw

    Where is this Journalism School he mentioned [Summa Cum Laude]? It sounds like it is in Italy…
    I have searched high and low in all the school lists and haven’t been able to locate it.

  119. Am I missing some sarcasm there Bobz?

  120. I have been lurking and reading these comments and now I too must add my thoughts … I joined the eBob BB back in Nov 2002 and for the first two to three years it was fantastic. I met many fellow oenophiles both locally and overseas and now count many as good friends. I also interacted with Mr Squires outside of his BB as we both were on the board of the Philadelphia chapter of the Alliance Francaise; indeed, I was his assistant at the Bastille Day fete in July 2003 when the Constitution Center was officially opened in Philadelphia and JM Cages poured his Bordeaux wines. Somewhere and sometime in 2005 things began to fall apart — a great deal of cyber-bullying was permitted, favoritism shown, dissenting voices squelched, etc. Without rehashing these and other gory details, three seminal events then occured which have led me to greatly reduce my time there and to NOT renew my eBob subscription:

    1. It became obvious that my private messages were being read by one or more moderators.
    2. Leve was made a moderator.
    3. Nigel Williams was essentially banned from the BB.

    I just returned from a trip to the UK to visit Nicos N and we dined at Nigel’s house one night; Nicos’ notes from this lovely dinner were quickly deleted by Mr Squires as Nigel was mentioned in them. After complaining, I now find all my posts are being “previewed” by the moderator prior to their being posted.

    Having met Neal Martin on this recent trip to London, I was actually contemplating resubscribing to eBob but not will not do so, and I am not the only former or potential paid subscriber who feels this way. If any of those who make their living from the eBob enterprises read this, please realize that you are being hurt financically by the actions of this man.



  121. alex, as someone that has been banned, at least once by mark, i can’t put all of it on him. true, many folks find the entire leve ‘thing’ absurd, if people stay focused on wine or wine criticism, and refrain from making the comments personal, mark let’s them stand. so i hold my tongue, and try to quickly pass over leve’s comments (can’t ignore a moderator unfortunately). and as you say, the squire’s BB is still is the best BB around… cheers,david

  122. I’m happy to see that Alex’s experience is almost parallel to mine.

    The less said about the Nigel Williams’ debacle, the better it will be for eBob’s Board reputation.

  123. Here is the link to a thread on the UK wine forum site which was also posted on the eBob forum and then deleted by Mr Squires:;f=1;t=020564

    Can any sane person tell me what is in the content of this thread that should have it deleted?


  124. The “Squires” board has become a sort of Stepford Wives place now. There is no place for any sort of subversive humour. In the last couple of days he has deleted a thread on a wine dinner at my home by Nicos Neocleous, apparently only because it mentioned my name. He has also put Alex and Phil Wilkins on pre-approved posting (i.e. censorship) for questioning that action.

    That sort of Stalinist behaviour is why I asked him to remove me from his board (and for the record he didn’t ban me)

    I hosted Squires in the UK for several meals, and met him elsewhere several times. He is not the person I knew a few years ago any more. Perhaps the pressure of his employment by Parker is getting to him?

  125. Again, Nigel, that was the theory I expressed a few posts ago (April 29th) using different words. The man used to have a wonderful sense of humor (or humour, I guess, for you Brits).

    It’s a shame really, as I’m sure somewhere there’s the real Mark Squires shouting to be free. Reminds me of the title of an old Harlan Ellison short story: “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”.

  126. […] the story, Parker hit out at bloggers and others in the forum on his website, which in turn is controlled with a heavy hand by one of the alleged guilty parties, Mark […]

  127. […] que hemos estado cuestionando el código de ética que rige a su Wine Advocate desde que cierto post en el blog de Dr. Vino… Bueno, ya conocen ustedes que me leen diligentemente esa historia y sus […]

  128. […] Spectator seriamente cuestionada. El mismo Robert Parker no la ha tenido muy fácil últimamente, cuestionándose el código ético de su Wine Advocate en cuanto a la forma en que no lo obedecen algunos de los “empleados” parkerianos. […]

  129. […] junkets. (All this emerged after I inquired about one of Miller’s trips during a spirited e-mail exchange with Squires, which prompted Tyler Colman, a wine writer who blogs under the name Dr. Vino, to ask […]

  130. Wow–I found a link to this site via Mike Steinberger over at MSN…great stuff. My kudos to Dr. Vino, too for getting the word out there!

    It was only a matter of time before someone exposed the full scope of corruption, temptation, nepotism and goes on inside the wine industry. I find myself asking why so many people take the opinions of “Professional” wine critics like Parker, James Laube, and Steve Heimoff, the editor at “Wine Enthusiast” as gospel. It’s no secret that a lot of these guys are arrogant, self-important hacks who have sustained their careers by perpetuating an “expert credibility.” They exploit the subjectivity of wine; What makes THEIR palate any different than YOUR palate?? Ask yourself next time you read Wine Spectator or spend your hard-earned money on a wine regarding their endorsement. TRUST YOUR OWN TASTE!!

    It’s good that the internet has allowed more of your voices to be heard. As for Parker, Laube, and Heimoff…”The Emperor has no clothes”…and I’m happy to see more people are realizing it, too.

  131. A lot of us seem to forget that wine critics are human too. It’s unfortunate that some people seem to take them at their word when they claim that the preferential treatment they receive has “no effect on their ratings whatsoever.” Maybe some of their opinions are genuine and honest—but it’s an insult to our intelligence to think ALL their reviews are fair and on the level. How do we know a 93 point review isn’t a “I’ll Gift You, and You Gift Me” trade-off? We don’t.

    The good news is as communication (Blogging, Twitter) continues to change the way we obtain information, the more informed and confident we will get in our own tastes—and the less people will rely on the Parkers and Millers and Heimoffs!

  132. […] a incité Tyler Colman, blogueur œnologue qui écrit sous le pseudo Dr. Vino, à demander des explications à Parker et Miller sur la conduite de ce […]

  133. […] llevó a muchos miembros de la comunidad de a cuestionar a su ídolo seriamente. Hubo episodios de censura, hilos cerrados y todas esas cosas tan bonitas que se dan en los foros cultureteros de discusión […]

  134. […] Dr. Vino, aka Tyler Colman, has got it all right here. […]


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