Anthony Dias Blue, bloggers, and the exposure package

adwho Anthony Dias Blue published an editorial in the July issue of his print publication, The Tasting Panel entitled, “…And Who Regulates the Bloggers?” In it, he calls me–without naming me specifically–a “barbarian blogger.” He further suggests that I “cast aspersions” at Robert Parker and his staff in my two posts from April and uses the word “allegedly” to describe the trips taken by contributors at The Wine Advocate. Then he pivots to lash out at bloggers more generally. You can read the whole piece here, but here is one excerpt:

And who are these bloggers anyway and, more important, what is their motivation? It would be comforting to find that they are altruistic wine lovers who see their purpose as bringing insight and valuable information to like-minded consumers. But the image that presents itself is of bitter, carping gadflies who, as they stare into their computer screens and contemplate their dreary day jobs, let their resentment and sense of personal failure take shape as vicious attacks on the established critical media.

I’m sure this is a condition that could be quickly remedied by the appearance at their door of the FedEx man bearing multiple new release samples.

Here’s a copy of the letter I sent to Mr. Dias Blue via email.

Mr. Dias Blue,

I saw your editorial in the July issue of your magazine, The Tasting Panel.

As the “blogger barbarian” who asked the questions of Robert Parker and Jay Miller, I thought I should clarify a few things for you.

Your use of “allegedly” significantly underplays the reality of press trips at The Wine Advocate. Squires by his own admission took a press trip to Israel and later divulged that he has taken five such trips to Portugal and Greece. Miller refused to provide a substantive reply to my specific questions about his travel to Argentina. A few phone calls and emails later, I triple verified that he had been to Argentina on two trips, paid for and organized by Wines of Argentina. The head of Wine Australia USA later told the Wall Street Journal that they had paid for and organized Miller’s trip to Australia. He put the price tag on that trip at $25,000.

Robert Parker built his reputation on independence. A key part of that independence involved distance from the trade and accepting no freebies. There had been a divergence between the actions of contributors to the publication and the stated policy.

And just to underscore the importance of this issue, I was not the only one asking questions since the Wall Street Journal also ran a story on the issue.

On my blog I have a statement of ethics. Do you have one in The Tasting Panel magazine?

I notice that part of Blue Lifestyle includes the organization of many promotional events for the wine trade and press. Further, I have personally received invitations from Blue Lifestyle for events with wine producers of Brunello, Walla Walla, Vintage port 2007, Wines of Navarra and E&J Gallo. How do you reconcile your promotional work with your editorial work?

Also, how do you reconcile the ads for 13 spirits brands in the current issue and the ads for eight wine brands with the independence of the editorial? Indeed, two of those advertisers also received editorial coverage in the same issue.

Mr. Dias Blue, I did not “cast aspersions” about Robert Parker and Jay Miller as you suggest. I asked them questions and when their replies were not forthcoming, I found out the answers and then gave them a chance to respond. That is called journalism. And as I stated in the pieces, I have tremendous respect for what Mr. Parker has achieved.

The invective that you present in your editorial, by contrast, pays scant regard for the facts and uses charged rhetoric to cast many aspersions writ large about wine bloggers. How do you expect to earn the respect of your readers by presenting such an unbalanced, overheated view? Instead, it sounds precisely like the form of writing that you decry.

Sincerely,

Tyler Colman, Ph.D.
www.DrVino.com

* * * *

After the jump, details about his pay-for-editorial “exposure package,” a further point about bloggers, and a reply from Anthony Dias Blue.

Since sending the letter, I became aware of how there was crossover between the editorial and advertisement: in The Tasting Panel media kit, there is the option of advertisers buying an “exposure package.”

MONTHLY “EXPOSURE PACKAGE” SPECIALS
• Full Page Ad in THE TASTING PANEL Magazine
Feature Story in magazine
• 30 minute radio show sponsorship of “Happy Hour” Show KFWB 980 AM
(includes on-air interview, orpportunity [sic] to showcase brand)
• Price $13,500/month

PREMIUM PACKAGE
• Full Page Ad in THE TASTING PANEL Magazine
Feature Story in magazine
• 45 minute radio show sponsorship of “Happy Hour” Show KFWB 980 AM
(includes on-air interview, opportunity to showcase brand)
• Price $8,000/month

Mr. Dias Blue makes a point about wine blogs being unregulated but the same could be said of wine criticism and wine writing more generally. Blogging is fun, interactive and the diverse participants often bring tremendous passion. In many cases, they have specific knowledge. I’m sure that Mr. Dias Blue came across Franco Zilliani’s excellent blogging on the Brunello scandal of last year, for example. Painting with a broad brush when it comes to wine (or for anything) is almost always a bad idea. Do all the wines of Walla Walla or Navarra suck, for example? Of course not! So why should all bloggers be characterized as “barbarians” or “militants”? In fact, over at the blog for Domain 547, there’s a post up entitled “These Wine Bloggers Are…” with biographical information about some of the people behind wine blogs.

* * * *

Anthony Dias Blue just responded. I reproduce his email below.

Dear Mr. Colman,

Thank you for your temperate email (I have received some communications from bloggers that have not been quite so non-violent).

You pose a number of issues and I will try to respond as best I can. Let’s start with the ethics statement: no, we do not have an ethics statement in the magazine (except for the clarification at the beginning of the review section) but looking at your ethics statement, I don’t see that we substantially deviate from it. Like you, we have an outside company that sells our advertising (Huson in San Francisco). I notice that you are running an ad (via Google) for Mankas Springs Vineyards. What if a bottle of Mankas Springs wine happened to slip into your blind tasting and you liked it very much? Should one automatically assume there is some impropriety involved if you reported favorably about it? No, because you have established yourself as a serious journalist with a track record of balanced reporting. Would it not, in fact, be unfair if you were to omit a favorable rating because they are an advertiser? If we have eight wine ads in our magazine it’s only an indication that our ad sales people are more effective than yours. Frankly, I couldn’t tell you who the advertisers are. I have been employed for more than thirty years by CBS who require adherence to a long and detailed ethics statement (prompted by the payola scandal of the 1960s). I also worked for Condé Nast for 25 years.

I am impressed that you pay for “the vast majority” of the wines you write about. If you taste 1000 wines each year, then you must be paying for 750 of them. That would mean that you are spending in the neighborhood of $20,000 on samples not to mention your grocery bills. I envy your financial independence. I taste about 7,000 wines a year. That would bring my sample bill to well over $100,000. I think I prefer tipping the UPS and FedEx guys generously.

As for the trade events, that part of the business is the province of Allison Levine whom I think you met when you were on a press trip together. I have no input as to whose events we do.

Response to the editor letter you cite has been running five to one in favor. Clearly bloggers need to repair their image. As one of the more literate members of the group, perhaps you could establish some framework or authority that could separate the serious bloggers from the pajama-clad wannabes.

Thank you again for your email.

Regards,

bluelifestyle I would be curious how he reconciles the “exposure package” with the ethical standards of CBS Radio (KFWB 980 AM)? Perhaps he will elaborate in the comments here.

Also, since Mr. Dias Blue brings up his employee, Allison Levine, it is worth pointing out that her title is “Vice President, Marketing and Events, Blue Lifestyle and The Tasting Panel Magazine.” Both she and Mr. Dias Blue list the same business address in Pacific Palisades, CA in the signature section of their emails.

His unrepentant email still “casts aspersions” on bloggers of all stripes. Is he not throwing stones from his glass house in Pacific Palisades?

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71 Responses to “Anthony Dias Blue, bloggers, and the exposure package”


  1. “Response to the editor letter you cite has been running five to one in favor. Clearly bloggers need to repair their image.”

    Clearly. When confronted with evidence of the sort Tony has marshaled in his email, bloggers the world over should take a long, hard look at their lives and try to come to grips with their sense of resentment and personal failure.

    At least my son and daughter love me. :-)


  2. Similar take from me Tyler when I called attention to ADB’s negative take last week: http://1winedude.com/index.php/2009/07/16/anthony-dias-blue-goes-on-the-attack-against-wine-bloggers/

    I suspect that both ADB & bloggers need to work on their images, but ADB is in strange territory to rely on editorial replies to justify his statements – being popular or having others agree with you is not a stable ground to justify speaking about any diverse group with such a broadly negative brush…


  3. I sent him a passionate e-mail, but restrained for me, in saying this “geeserville” type thinking just won’t work and painting with broad brushes is just ignorant. We went back and forth and he did apologize after he read my blog and said we should communicate on a higher plane. I still have not responded, I would like him to recant his statements. The fact that he wants you to “police” bloggers is ridiculous.

    There are some lame bloggers no doubt, but not ALL of them are. It is just so much ignorant counterintuitive thinking. It is the response of someone who is threatened.

    But what I think irks him the most is the unregulation of it all. The “geeserville” generation hates change and unregulated things. The freedom of expression and opinion in blogging you just cannot get anywhere else. Print media did not have it because you had editors who edited for grammar AND content. Some bloggers, including me, have some bad grammar some of the time, but that is no reason to excoriate them. The content thing, it seems, is what gets him. Unregulated opinion and the democratization of opinion is what is really getting his stuff in a tussle. I have experienced many people who cannot deal with the fact, through social media and blogs, that anybody and everybody can have an opinion, be it bad or good or informed or ignorant. It’s the new way ADB and if you cannot take the heat you need to get out of the kitchen.


  4. Tyler: Thanks for sharing this stuff with us.

    Am I the only one that would be shocked if the 5:1 ratio in favor of his editorial could be supported by facts and evidence?

    There is no doubt that wine blogging has grown to the point where there is the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s true of any type/style/level of journalism though. The biggest issue I have with Mr. Dias Blue is the unfair generalizations he makes and continues to make.

    “bloggers need to repair their reputation”? I’m quite happy with my place in the wine world and my “reputation”, which I think (hope?) is one of someone who is passionate, curious and always forthcoming and honest.

    Fascinating to see that advertisers are guaranteed a feature story. Maybe some bloggers should pool funds and buy a one-month ad. That would make for a fun feature story, no?


  5. LOVE the pooled ad idea, Lenn. I’m in!


  6. @1winedude – yes, sorry not to mention your post! Please check it out, everyone, for an initial blogger reaction to the ADB editorial.

    @lenn – funny!

    @Lyle – interesting that he apologized to you.

    More generally, I should have flagged that there’s actually a wine blogger’s conference coming up this weekend in Sonoma! Unfortunately I can’t attend, but perhaps there will be some discussion of bloggers’ ethics on the agenda. If so, those of you who are there, let us know how the discussion goes!


  7. Tyler,

    Thanks for covering this, and more generally for publicizing the Wine Advocate travel question.

    It seems to me that Anthony Dias Blue’s fundamental complaint is that blogs are not accountable to the standard forms editorial control or fact checking associated with reputable newspapers, and that this permits poor, irresponsible, or even corrupted content. If that’s his problem, then it is ironic to say the least that he would complain when DrVino invests some energy in checking the integrity of Wine Advocate’s editorial process. In this case, a blog is providing the crucial service of holding writers and editors accountable — I would have thought this is precisely what Dias Blue is asking for.

    The matter of the ‘Exposure Package’ falls beyond the pale, but it is illuminating of his complaint: if feature stories in The Tasting Panel are paid for by the firms they discuss, then they are ads not articles. Most people presumably understand the difference, unless they are misled by publishers. Anthony Dias Blue’s hectoring of bloggers sounds less like a defense of good journalism and more like a man worried that his own skeletons are about to be revealed.

    Keep up the good work.


  8. I would not be so surprised by a ratio favoring his viewpoint. There are plenty of people out there who do not know anything about these issues of Robert Parker, bloggers, etc and yet are able to form opinions based on factual evidence. ADB did much of the same, however, he appears to be listening to viewpoints now. I did email him, as well, on his editorial. He did respond, very kindly. I do not follow wine bloggers as much as others here, but many of the wines I do read (Tyler, Lyle, etc) offer a lot of valuable information. Saying all bloggers need to reshape their image is like saying all critics are lazy and untrustworthy because of Jay Miller. Broad strokes is not the best way to paint.


  9. Great post. Blue is another example of wine writers who simply don’t understand blogging. The quote from Blue bears repeating:

    “[‘Militant’ bloggers are] bitter, carping gadflies who, as they stare into their computer screens and contemplate their dreary day jobs, let their resentment and sense of personal failure take shape as vicious attacks on the established critical media.”

    Where is the basis for this fantasy? This quote pretty much screams “I’m out of touch.” This isn’t simply about being old vs. young, or old media vs. new. This is simply about a human demonizing what he doesn’t understand. What a downer.


  10. Does CBS really allow Anthony Dias Blue to come on the air and shill for his clients? Is that part of the ethics statement he is so proud to have signed?

    Whom at KFWB News 980 should one contact with questions about their ethics policy?
    http://www.kfwb.com/For-breaking-news–call-KFWB-NEWS-980-at–323–900/3866710


  11. Not sure re: CBS, but good thing Mr. Blue doesn’t contribute to the NYT!

    I quote:

    Steering Clear of Advice Roles

    40. It is an inherent conflict for a journalist to perform public relations work, paid or unpaid. Staff members may not counsel individuals or organizations on how to deal successfully with the news media. They may not, for example, advise candidates for public office, write or edit annual reports, or contribute to the programs of sports teams.

    http://www.nytco.com/press/ethics.html


  12. “Clearly bloggers need to repair their image.” – Wow, what pomposity coming from the guy who publishes, to me, the most boring, lackluster* wine mag around.

    *Triple bonus score for first-ever use of the lackluster.


  13. Last week at WITS, a educational collective for the wine industry, there were some very serious ethics concerns raised by one large company who stated that they have received inquiries from bloggers who say (and I’m paraphrasing here) “send me your wine and I’ll write about it”.

    The company involved says that have a very specific and standardized approach to these outreaches but did not share it with the other attendees.

    As I am sure you are aware, the FCC is now reviewing the whole blogger universe to see how the truth in advertising rules should be applied. Writing about merchandise that you receive free is one of the things that they are looking at very carefully at as well as paid promotion.

    The industry that has been scrutinized thus far by them has been the Mommy bloggers who now claim that they are so overwhelmed by FREE STUFF being sent to them to write about that they are taking Aug. 16th as a Mommy blogger protest shut down.

    Surely the FCC will have a field day with the wine industry.


  14. Julie,

    What is there for the FCC to say about “send me your wine for review”?

    As long as the sample is disclosed and there is no guarantee of a positive review there’s not much they can do…

    Pay to play, people getting enriched for positive reviews, non disclosure, and astroturfing are what the FCC and all bloggers should rightly be concerned about. Not send me wine and I’ll review it. That kind of conversation happens every day all throughout wine media.


  15. @Ian Hurd – excellently stated! (Great to see you here!)

    @Jack – thanks for the comment!

    @Julie & @Josh- I’m glad the issue is getting a broader discussion. (Btw, not to split hairs, but it is the FTC not the FCC that is proposing to regulate paid editorial content, which apparently is quite an issue in blogs more generally.)

    Here’s a link to an NYT story on the subject for those who haven’t been following it.


  16. Oh, and congrats Tyler on earning Barbarian Blogger status. But still, this is not the Ultimate. No, you have to have Parker call you a Blobber. Get to work on that!


  17. btw, here’s a link to a story on FT.com that also invokes pajamas and blogs. Except that the blogs are being bought out!

    Blogs are going mainstream

    “Blogs are going mainstream. The days are long gone when they could be dismissed as the preserve of pyjama-clad commentators with something to get off their chest. Some, such as the Huffington Post, have become fully fledged news organisations. Now, similar sites are attracting cash-rich backers.”


  18. Julie, I think it’s ironic that you are raising the issue of blogger ethics when we have hard evidence here that Anthony Dias Blue, an established wine and food writer, engages in pay-to-play. Was there any similar discussion at the WITS conference (or elsewhere in the industry) on how producers should deal with wine writers like Blue that are — I’ll say it — corrupt?


  19. All I can say to Mr. Dias Blue is…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fZUzfDKrS0

    Best,

    Manuel


  20. Anthony Dias Who?


  21. The Tasting Table is off the radar as far as I can tell. Maybe ADB is prodding bloggers just to raise his own street cred. Not working. I am with Lenn on thinking the 5:1 ratio he cites being pablum. Hidden advertising like ADB’s “exposure” articles and paid label insertions being showcased as editorial don’t pass the sniff test. Bloggers should just keep doing what they do, which presents a broader panoply of valuable editorial than any print mag is providing these days.


  22. Really? Is this getting us anywhere? Really?


  23. I am not able to attend this weekend’s WBC, but I’d be curious to see if social media is properly representing the wine blogging community. My guess is: Probably not. There is a whole lot of noise on social media right now, and it’s dominated by some of the bloggers who might be deserving of ADB’s criticism.

    And yet his rant, much like Parker’s and Squire’s this week, is so lazy. It reveals the rather obvious fact (or inescapable conclusion) that ADB has spent almost no time reading actual wine blogs. The most important and powerful trend in wine blogging is niche specialization; as I recently mentioned to Alder Yarrow, I’m addicted to blogs like Lyle Fass’ and Ithacork. Sites such as these provide exceptional coverage and offer relevant criticism.

    Not every blog is a bottom-feeder begging for samples so they can write, “Wine X is yummy with black fruit taste.” Not every writer is Stephen Glass. And every time a writer like ADB maligns an entire group, he’s booking his ticket to irrelevance.


  24. Andy Blue was silly to write what he did. I suspect he regrets it. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Or something like that.


  25. Tyler I wish you had used the “24 hour rule” when you sent Mr Blue your letter – “write it, put it in a desk and look at it 24 hoiurs later, edit and send”. What should have been a focused discussion on the quality of blogging and more specifically the posts from Dr Vino has degenerated into issues about advertising and promotion and whether commentary can remain independent given the ad support. Mr Blue’s response was able to completely ignore this issue as he counter-attacked you on the advertising front. And in that sense maybe he does have a point. Some commentary could be a little less colourful, shall we say more “pink” than red.

    Let’s get back to the case against those who would claim “holier than thou”, a case which you so succinctly and professionally made – and as you point out, much in the standard we would expect any mainstream media investigative journalist would have done.

    Yours
    Mr Green.


  26. Tyler-as always, i think you do a fantastic job.

    I have one comment somewhat veering from topic but that someone else posted on:
    Steering Clear of Advice Roles
    40. It is an inherent conflict for a journalist to perform public relations work, paid or unpaid…etc

    I’m intrigued by many people I’ve met this year and friends I know that are turning to freelance pr/marketing/consulting about wine but also marketing themselves as a freelance writer of wine. And they do not see the conflict of interest here.

    It seems relevant and an more prevalent issue as more folks turn to freelance type work and needing as much work as possible.

    I still see a clear conflict of interest – either one is working in wine PR or they are a wine writer?


  27. Maybe my perspective is a little different because I blog about my wine business myself and in general need to work with both other bloggers and the professionals…..but isn’t it more productive for everyone in the wine community to share more information, not less?

    To me, that would help the industry grow more then anything else.


  28. STOP THE WAR ALRIGHT
    I do find important that the topic of “independence” in wine writing has been brought up but now it seems more like dirt wrestling to me.


  29. This guy is right ! I’m tired of my day job and solemnly declare that I’m open to propositions for a well-paying job where I’ll enjoy saying many good things about mass bottlers and artfully enhanced wines…


  30. It’s high time that the blobbers, bloggers and blueggers cleaned up their acts.

    But, folks, it ain’t gonna happen. There are going to be writers like Blue who cater to the industry hat in hand, because that is who he sees as his audience. He has no consumer audience. His 5:1 in favor ratio is directly related to the question of his audience and his servility. He is an industry-oriented operative who is trying to pass as an independent wine writer. He has some good people working for him, but his relationship with the industry has nothing to do with the “arm’s length” relationship that critics ought to have.

    But before we judge the blueggers of this world, we need to be sure we are on solid ground. There are, by my count, zero writers who have not taken something of value from wineries or industry sources of one sort or another. Steve Heimoff the other day fessed up to the fact that wineries pay him to come and entertain their clients. Funny that his “fessing” happened to involve the Fess Parker winery, which also brought me in one time to entertain the crowd. Of course, I was silly enough to pay my own way down there and got paid a coonskin hat for my troubles, but they did put me up for free overnight.

    We all know that there are bloggers out there who are trying to join the game. The fact that they do not cotton to the need to establish their cred first before asking for samples is not surprising, but we ought to, and most of us do, decry that kind of crass “feed me and I will feed you attitude”. In that regard, the blueggers and some bloggers are not all that far apart. It is not a question of their morals. We know what their morals are. It just a question of their price.


  31. Those advertising packages are just terrible, to think I was going to comment before getting to them that most people have the advertisement/editorial relationship backwards to some degree–usually advertisers will want to know what editorial you are running to they can decide which issues to put their ads in (they tend to like editorial that is directly relevant to them), but that is clearly not going on here.

    I think many of the “old vs. new” arguments are way-overblown when it comes to print vs. blogs, but one thing that is definitely true (and you see it everywhere, not just in wine media), many people in older generations who are not used to the power of the Internet still operate as if they can say one thing and do another and not get caught. The speed with which you can lose your credibility these days is astounding–and some people still don’t get that.


  32. […] el asunto de Anthony Dias Blue y su diatriba antiblogueril. Ahora Dr. Vino ha tomado cartas en el asunto con una entrega de su blog que revela muchísimo sobre el tipo de […]


  33. C’mon Tyler. Get over it.

    You do have an ethics statement on your board. It says nothing about subsidized trips and junkets. So presumably it is ok if you participate because you don’t take a position against accepting handouts.

    Don’t you think this is a little silly.

    Recently you participated and publicized a major junket for Australian wine.

    I don’t care what you do, but I deeply resent you attacking other people who also have their hands out for junkets.

    I’ll now pass the baton over to Dan Posner….


  34. What is the motivation? And how does Tony Blue feel about The Pour? This is another example of the traditional media trying to understand it’s role in a 2.0 world. As someone who has worked in the traditional press, I can appreciate the concern that some ageing reporters might feel that the ‘barbarians’ are at the gate. The first ammendment remains in force, so my salvo is “Deal with it Tony”.


  35. Tyler and all,
    What about situations like ours? what should we do? Our goals are very different from most blogs in the wine trade. We are out to sell the wine from the shop on our site or in person- most of our readership is based here in the city.
    Still, I think we try for some interesting ideas on the blog; and we are working hard on our two point zero ideas and marketing. I hope some of our reviews are honest and interesting to read, but thats pretty clearly not our goal!
    I wonder what ADB would think. . . Perhaps we are in a very similar position?
    Ben


  36. Some great comments here. A few responses:

    @Kelly Keagy, Chris Robinson and Caroline – My intention was to keep this a private matter via email even though Mr. Dias Blue lobbed grenades by impugning my journalism and the credibility of wine bloggers writ large. Then I found out about the “exposure package.” And Mr. Dias Blue’s unrepentant response defied the reality of the “exposure package.”

    Also, my questions for Parker et al were never about taking trips per se. They were violations of policy, and a violation of trust. Period.

    @Kerry @Mark I agree the discussion of wine blogger ethics should get a broader airing. It’s a diverse field with lots of people participating including not only people with independent editorial but also wineries, shops, and even wine importers.

    Joe, it’s too bad you don’t see a difference between a paid package that promises editorial coverage and taking a no-strings-attached trip organized by a regional or national group of producers.

    One last thing about Google ads: It’s nearly impossible for a winery to appear in a google ad on this site or any other wine blog. Google’s policy is such because in this country wine is for those over 21, so wine and winery ads are deemed “non family safe.” (Manakas Vineyards, which I have never heard of, appears to be flying under the radar because they don’t use the word wine.) The only way to have winery ads appear is for the site publisher to accept “non family safe” ads, which I don’t even though they might cause clickthroughs to, er, rise.


  37. A fundamental problem with the generalizations Mr. Dias makes about “wine bloggers” is that, frankly, there are many different types. Not all of us aspire to be full-on wine critics and receive samples from the industry. Some wine bloggers are just passionate consumers writing about their quotidian wine experiences—and in many cases doing it not only very well, but also in an extremely informed manner.

    I wonder how that kind of wine blogger fits into Mr. Dias’ view. Also, how would that sort of non-ITB and non-professional-journalist blogger be “regulated”?

    On a lighter note, I don’t know about “exposure packages”, but the jokes about gadflies and “package exposure” haven’t stopped all week around here… :-)

    Best,

    Manuel


  38. Re: Mr. Dressner:

    His views are uniquely those of the very people with whom Parker and Miller taste wine unblinded. It does not bother him that wine is tasted that way for the very reason that it does not bother other distributors. They all believe that their wines have unique stories to tell and wine critics would not recognize those stories without looking at the labels.

    As for Jay Miller, Parker believes him to be an honest taster. But Mr. Parker is not the ultimate judge of that. Those who pay to read the Wine Advocate are. I follow some folks in the WA more than others just as I follow some folks in WS more than others. Once a publication goes from central reviews to delegated reviews, it can no longer be any good across the board. And when the reviews are done differently from wine to wine and reviewer to reviewer, it does not matter whether we are talking about the paid article in Blue or the massive distributor or winery supported tastings in Parker.

    There are some reviewers out there who still buy wine, who still taste everything blind and whose standards are those known. Whether they are well-supported or not, whether they write in old media or new media, in the long-run, there will be consumers who desire that kind of independent voice. Going on a trip to Australia is not an endorsement of everything in Australia. Going up to the Napa Valley to the Rutherford Dust tasting is not an endorsement of everything from Rutherford. Alder Yarrow is up at the IPNC right now. He will not endorse everything he tastes up there.

    That is why I believe Mr. Dressner misses the point. He mistakes any kind of experience for corruption–except that which he endorses for his own wines.
    So Joe D has no problem with open tastings but he decries any kind of general trip. To each his own. I think he misses the point that wine recommendations need to be as much above suspiscion as possible.


  39. Tyler:

    You write:

    “Joe, it’s too bad you don’t see a difference between a paid package that promises editorial coverage and taking a no-strings-attached trip organized by a regional or national group of producers.”

    Actually, I don’t see a difference. Miller could have gone and panned all the wines. Parker could have decided he did have the space in The Wine Advocate to publish Miller’s notes.
    Miller, incompetent though he may be, made no promises.

    On the other hand, you gushed here about your paid trip to Australia as did the other bloggers who accepted this subsidized trip by Australia’s major promotional wine board. They put together a big time package to fight the image of Australian wine being synonymous with Yell Tail. Your purpose there was to publicize the other part of the Australian wine industry and to help them regain marketing share. It was not a charity event to benefit anti-cancer research.

    You did as good a job as Miller and frankly I don’t see the difference between the two trips. Both of you accepted promotional money to act as flacks for industry. It was not accidental that they picked you, Jay Miller and Jamie Goode. They knew what the results would be.


  40. […] que en el artículo que publicara Dr. Vino sobre Anthony Dias Blue y su conflicto con los blogueros del vino hay un pasaje muy curioso. Es de la respuesta del Sr. […]


  41. Anthony Dias Who? is more like it.

    This guy makes Riunite look à la mode…


  42. Joe,

    Thanks for the mention, but I prefer to let ADB speak for you, rather me. You are on his side here, right? All bloggers are evil?
    Trivia…who said this and when?

    “On the positive side are critics who are serious about their responsibilities; who put in the work, time and discipline required for professional tasting; and who offer unbiased, comprehensive reports on wine. On the negative side are writers who are simply there for a free ride—free wine, travel and lodging. Nevertheless, consumers need sources of information, and an independent press continues to have a growing and important role.”


  43. Dan:

    Why put words in my mouth?

    I think ADB and Dr. Vino and Jay Miller all lack a solid ethical code. They all take handouts and defend the practice. The polemics between them are hypocritical because they all share the same flawed practices. None of them is for staking out a truly financial independent role for their journalistic ventures and they all accept or solicit handouts.

    Personally, I’m a blogger and have nothing against blogs. In fact, I’m all for them. For me, a blog is simply a publishing mechanism. It allows me to get through my point of view, to write (something I enjoy) and to fool around. To not take everything so seriously.

    Am I good blogger? Maybe. Am I a potential candidate for a Pulitzer price? Never.

    I am not a journalist and make no pretense of being a journalist.

    ADB, Dr Vino and Jay Miller all claim to be journalists. They are bound to a different ethical code than I am. I try to be an ethical importer, but make no claim to being a journalist.


  44. Paint me stupid, but what defines a “solid ethical code” and what has each one of the aforementioned done to violate it?


  45. Also, how is Alice Feiring, a now infamous blogger (banned on the Parker board) compare to these three men (need to throw a woman in for PC purposes).

    Now you shoved me back in, Dressner!


  46. All three of the above willing take money for trips to review viticultural areas.

    I have no idea what Alice Feiring does or doesn’t do. She’s a friend and I’ve never paid for any of her trips when she’s reviewed our growers.

    I’m not calling for an inquisition against bloggers or journalists. What I object to is Tyler denouncing other journalists for having the same policies that he had.


  47. Joe D,

    Do these other journalists have the same policies as Tyler? Tyler has talked about his trips, been open about them. Was the Wine Advocate? Does ADB mention that when he does an article (feature) it is because that the company has paid for the feature? I do not see that in the fine print.

    What are Alice’s policies about junkets? I could not find it on her blog, but I am sure, since you are friends, you probably are aware of it. Has she ever taken free trips (junkets)?

    Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, huh?


  48. Joe, can you please provide us with a list of writers who *don’t* go on any press trips to wine regions, and who buy all of their wine for tastings out of their own pockets? Thanks in advance.

    Tyler has a policy of disclosure on his site, and it doesn’t seem like he goes on a lot of trips, frankly. Your equating of Tyler (who has a policy about this sort of thing and discloses such relationships) with Jay Miller (who violated his employer’s policy) is not just logically false. It’s bordering on libelous.


  49. As an altruistic wine lover, i don’t feel comfortable as a like-minded consumers.
    I really prefer advices from a blogger than a so-called “professional”…

    I would be glad to hear about Mr Dias Blue regarding the following information i’ve posted on the related threads, and how it makes me think that those people are not worth the real listening, as they are only driven by business :

    Those articles made their way to Asia and particularly Japan from which interesting feedbacks were received.

    An article published in Wands The international Wine & Spirits Magazine for
    the trade in Japan is bringing new information to the scene.
    (Wands website: http://www.wine.or.jp/wands)
    Scan is just over here : http://img40.imageshack.us/i/wandsparker.jpg/

    Quick and dirty translation comes below :

    “Something not brought yet in Dr.Vino’s blog is that Robert Parker himself is not irreproachable.

    From 1998 upon the request of a Japanese importer and in exchange of enormous amount of money, Parker participated to seminars, and contributed to the business of that importer. That company is producing in Japan a white wine from Koshu grape, and is the sole distributor of that wine. In May 2008, Robert Parker scored the wine after drinking it in a high class sushi restaurant located in Ginza, and published it on his website”

    Due to the fact that the original article is in Japanese, such information might never be revealed to the erobertparker.com’s member…The trade will certainly be aware sooner or later…

    The article statements can easily be proved using the following sources :

    Website for the wine scored by Parker.
    http://koshu.org/en/index.php
    “Robert Parker praised each vintage of Shizen wine, including the Shizen
    2007 vintage on a trip to Tokyo in May 2008. Shizen Cuvee Denis Dubourdieu
    remains the only Asian wine reviewed by Robert Parker.”

    Hedonist Gazette
    After reading the hedonist gazette, it’s easy to find the wine Koshu
    (tasted and scored twice !!! Indeed as the name seems slightly different,
    it’s nothing but the same wine)
    http://www.erobertparker.com/members/gazette/hg224.asp
    http://www.erobertparker.com/members/gazette/hg430.asp

    Post from Parker on Mark Squires’ Bulletin Board
    Parker states that the “wines are the brain-child of my Japanese publisher”

    http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/showthread.php?t=146327&highlight=shizen

    The importer producing the wine / Parker’s Japanese publisher is Millesimes. This wine can be found in their PDF catalogue with Parker points on page 29.
    http://www.millesimes.co.jp/download/wine_list/0904_millesime_wine.pdf

    Japanese explanations are saying that this wine is the first Asian wine to be ever tasted by Robert M. Parker Jr.

    That’s quite funny to see such publicly available information not mentioned because of the language differences.


  50. Regarding Alice Feiring: I know for a fact that she received large sums of money from the Clos Roche Blanche and Dard & Ribo for her favorable coverage of their wines. She has travelled with wine tours I have organized for the trade but I never paid her way. On the other hand, I have bought her tea and scones at Podunk, located in New York’s East Village.

    For all the rest, I’m happy to correspond by e-mail about Tyler’s hypocrisy but I’ve pretty much stated everything I have to say on the various threads on this board.

    I can be contacted at thewineimporter@fastmail.fm


  51. Joe –

    You say that I lack “a solid ethical code.” That is absurd. So is the claim that ADB’s pay-for-editorial is the same as my policy. And so is the claim about “taking money.” I must reject these statements in the strongest terms.

    You further state that I take “handouts.” I assume you are talking about press trips and samples. Let’s review the evidence in my case.

    I went on one trip this year organized by a national organization. I went on no press trips last year. I have none planned in the future.

    As I have articulated in a previous comment to you, I would only consider a press trip from a regional or national organization. Other freelancers, including Jancis Robinson, have articulated the same policy. Therefore, does she also lack a “solid code of ethics” in your view?

    Your last comment contained a surprising admission from you: “…wine tours I have organized for the trade…”

    I did not know that you engaged in providing such “handouts” to wine writers.

    As to samples, I do accept samples. Virtually all wine reviewers and writers accept samples.

    In fact, I just received two unsolicited Louis/Dressner wines — wines YOU import and market in the USA — as samples. So it seems you don’t have such an issue with “handouts” as you would like people to believe.

    So speaking of hypocrisy, Joe, you really must come down off your high horse.

    You are treating me unfairly. You are bullying me. You are trying to tarnish my ethics and damage my career. I’ve asked you before. I’m asking you again: Please stop. Now.

    comment edited for clarification


  52. Cool down Tyler. I’ve responded by e-mail to you and anyone who would like to see my response can request it at thewineimporter@fastmail.fm

    You seem very frantic.

    A lot of mudslinging going on.


  53. Hopefully my last post on this one…

    Joe,

    Tyler disclosed his trips to you and the world.

    The Wine Advocate did not.

    ADB does not disclose his relationships or business methods either.

    Tyler did.

    You organize trade trips. What does “organized” entail?

    Now, I see why you want to take this offline.

    I am glad.

    This comment was edited at the request of the person who wrote it


  54. This comment was deleted at the request of the person who made it


  55. Dan and Tyler:

    In response to your questions, I no longer beat my wife.

    Best,

    Joe Dressner


  56. Joe–

    Have you ever been known to beat a dead horse?


  57. This comment was deleted at the request of the person who made it


  58. This comment was deleted at the request of the person who made it


  59. It seems as if cooler heads have prevailed–a good thing indeed. But the larger issue is not going to go away.

    There are a variety of good and bad practices in the winewriting and winemaking businesses. The more honesty the better ought to be a point upon which we can all agree. The more independence, the more likely the chances of accuracy and trustworthiness in wine critiques ought to be another. The more that any possibility of bias is eliminated in tastings should be a third.

    The difference between trips paid for by local organizations and winery trips paid for by a single producer is palpable, and the only way to keep bias out of those reports is to (1) be honest about the trip and (2) to not review wines tasted on those trips in any but casual fashion–as opposed to trying to suggest, as some writers have done, that the wines were tasted blind in peer-to-peer tastings.

    At that point, we can begin to debate and continue to debate what is expected of us. In another blog entry, Tyler has led an expose’ of shoddy (shady?) winery practices, and they need to be looked at as well.


  60. Comments from several people have been deleted on this thread with the mutual understanding of the authors.

    Comments are temporarily being moderated.


  61. Anyone like to guess why ADB might be especially sensitive to criticism of wine media taking junkets, especially those provided by trade groups or large corporations with wine interests?


  62. If all cyber columnists worked for the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times or the Wine Spectator, in the case of Harvey Steinman who seems to flit all over the world, which pick up the tab for trips and wines sampled with and without paired food, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Absent such budgets, however, I’ve come to conclude that an event like the Napa wine and dine day at the Wine Bloggers Conference is kosher. A standard disclaimer noting the largesse is sufficient.


  63. Tyler, et al.,

    I took my own advice and contacted KFWB to see if we could learn more about the “adherence to a long and detailed ethics statement” which Anthony Dias Blue touted in the response published in the original post.

    I was surprised to learn that Blue’s show is actually PAID PROGRAMMING and thus not subject to the CBS ethical policy that Blue touted.

    Which raises another question about ADB: Why would he claim that he’s subject to an ethical code — a code he would be violating, given his pay-to-play policy — when he’s not even subject to that policy?

    It seems that Mr. Blue wants to boost his journalistic credibility, when in fact he’s just running an infomercial. Shame on him for throwing stones at Tyler and the blogging world.

    I’m pasting my letter to KFWB and their response below.

    Dear Mr. Gomez,

    Anthony Dias Blue, who has a weekly show on KFWB, has a so-called “exposure package” in the media kit for his publication, The Tasting Panel. He also assures editorial coverage and sponsorship on KFWB 980 AM. Here is what he is offering:
    http://www.tastingpanelmag.com/Media/MediaManager/TPM%202010%20media%20kit.pdf

    MONTHLY “EXPOSURE PACKAGE” SPECIALS
    • Full Page Ad in THE TASTING PANEL Magazine
    • Feature Story in magazine
    • 30 minute radio show sponsorship of “Happy Hour” Show KFWB 980 AM
    (includes on-air interview, orpportunity [sic] to showcase brand)
    • Price $13,500/month

    I’m curious how Mr. Dias Blue’s published policy of pay-to-play squares with the editorial and ethical policies of CBS Radio and KFWB AM.

    This subject has recently been discussed in public, with Mr. Dias Blue referencing “adherence to a long and detailed ethics statement”:
    http://www.drvino.com/2009/07/23/anthony-dias-blue-bloggers-tasting-panel-exposure-package/

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Thank you.

    Mark Ashley
    Editor, Upgrade: Travel Better
    http://www.upgradetravelbetter.com/
    @upgradetravel on Twitter

    A few days later, I received this response:

    Mr. Ashley,

    Thank you for your e-mail.

    The Anthony Dias Blue program “Happy Hour,” which airs Sundays on KFWB, is a paid program. A disclaimer is played at the beginning and end of the show disclosing this fact. It is not produced by KFWB and “Happy Hour” is not subject to the same editorial oversight as KFWB’s general news programming. The only editorial content Anthony Dias Blue controls is within his paid program.

    As News Director, I have no involvement with the “Happy Hour” radio show. It’s my understanding the program is produced by The Tasting Panel Magazine. Questions about the content of the show should be directed to the editors there.

    Hope this helps.

    With kind regards,

    — Paul Gomez
    KFWB News 980


  64. […] a comment left by at drvino.com (link here), the news director of KFWB radio in Hollywood  confirmed that Anthony Dias Blue’s “Happy […]


  65. […] as wine media and information sharing is being reshaped accross the social web.  In between Anthony Dias Blue’s attack on “blogger barbarian”  Tyler Coleman and the less than necessary retaliatory snipes on Dias Blue’s promotional […]


  66. […] that appears to have legs. Traditional wine media and critics declared bloggers to be irrelevant and irresponsible. A virally promoted contest grabbed the attention of thousands while offering a chance to win […]


  67. Wow, nice post and I agree with you. I can’t get through all of the comments due to lack of time, but have to say my opinion, which probably was already stated by others here.

    I think the bad carma around bloggers comes out of the fact that traditional (print, tv,…) media is facing difficult times as a direct consequence of the downturn. Therefore they are forced to be more aggressive and sometimes also play dirty. This is just a part of the traditional vs. new (social) media war, which is not destined to end soon, well at least not until traditional media representatives embrace the ideas and advantages social media can bring.

    I definitely can’t agree with the doubt on altruism, because if you start a blog you namely start it because you want to share what’s on your mind with others, you want to be heard and therefore enjoy what you write. There is no reason to get paid to write about something, even though some of us (don’t count me in) do. In the end it is all about readers, they choose who and what to read and they can form their opinion.

    I’m really sorry to read such editorials, but then I ask myself: “Who regulates journalists?”


  68. Dear Kind Doctor,

    Alas, I couldn’t find an image of Conan in pajamas.

    http://ow.ly/R1xs just a token of respect!

    Happy New Year.

    Steven


  69. […] media” was the moderator for the event. (Check in with Dr. Vino, who takes on Dias Blue here.)  And so I guess it’s no surprise that he introduced himself as a “dinosaur” […]


  70. […] and the relatively new world of wine bloggers. Well-established writers such as Robert Parker and Anthony Dias Blue have both attacked bloggers in the past, using the best tools they know: […]


  71. […] wines they later reviewed (he didn’t call it bribery, but I would). A big name wine writer, Tony Blue, then wrote that Dr. Vino was just a nobody who was angry because he didn’t get free wine […]


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