The buyer of The Wine Advocate’s connection to wine retail

Decanter reports that the lead buyer of a stake in the Wine Advocate still has close ties to the company he founded that does wine retail, importing and investing: his wife owns a large share and is the managing director.

Soo Hoo Khoon Peng reportedly led a group of investors to buy an undisclosed stake in the Wine Advocate, announced earlier this month. Ten years ago, Soo Hoo founded Hermitage Wines in Singapore. Aside from wine retail, Hermitage offers the pre-sale of many wines and offers wine investment services. Their website points to static production of the top wines of Europe while underscoring strong demand, especially in Asia. Their web site states “This creates an unparalleled investment opportunity!” It also touts their “strong connections to top vineyards worldwide.”

According to Decanter, calls to Hermitage say that Soo Hoo left the company. (In response to a query as to his role in the transaction, I, too, got a reply four days later saying that he had left the company. No reply was forthcoming when I forwarded the email query to the suggested forwarding address.) Yet the article, written by Ch’ng Poh Tiong and Adam Lechmere, says that an examination of the share structure on December 17 shows that Soo Hoo and his wife Josephine Ng own 73% of the shares of Hermitage.

Ms. Ng posted a response to the article on her Facebook page in which she did not deny the details. It read “To Decanter, Chng Poh Tiong and all the bloggers out there — thank you for all the publicity that Hermitage can get. Get a life!” Her Facebook profile is no longer visible but a screenshot of the comment appears below. Her husband deleted his Facebook page, which had frequent updates, since news of the sale surfaced.

After a link to the Decanter story appeared in the discussion forum at, Parker posted a reply, which read in part

I have not taken on any investor with ANY interest in the wine business.To have done so would be stupid,and create a major conflict of interest.Moreover, the investors recognize the significance of TWA’s independence and hard-earned credibility,and along with me, are fully committed to this.One of the investors was required…in order to invest in TWA, to sell their interest in a wine company,as this was an abolute prerequisite to participation), and that was done….if any of the wives of these investors have an interest, I am 100% certain it has been sold or is in the process of being sold

In this comment, Parker confirm a buyer had a connection to wine retail and, in so doing, all but confirms that Soo Hoo was the lead investor as has been reported. What still remains unclear is the size of the stake that Parker sold, particularly whether it was a controlling stake. Since it seems Decanter has no trouble digging up the share structures of companies in Singapore, it is presumably only a matter of time before this comes out.

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5 Responses to “The buyer of The Wine Advocate’s connection to wine retail”

  1. Very interesting Tyler. The sale seems like it was likely a hurried transaction that did not have adequate due diligence nor safeguards implemented. Maybe the pending tax law increases that will likely change after next week were more important at the time to Mr. Parker than his “alleged” Code of Ethics that he would never advertise nor have arms length dealings with the trade. I wish that there was real transparency about these issues on Wine Advocate but if that did ever occur, it would be a first. I give Mr. Parker a 64/100 for his effort in disclosure and transparency here. I do wish him luck for a long and illustrious career and have no issue with his right to monetize his many years of wine criticism. My only warning to his buyers is to be more transparent than they and Parker have thus far demonstrated about this sale and their relationship to wine sales, otherwise that investment will not succeed.

  2. Money always gets in the way.

    The tax law change is certainly a reasonable argument, as this deal appeared to come out of left field.

    Combine that with Parker spoonfeeding the story break to Lettie Teague, of the WSJ, only to later bash her for posting lies, leaves us to wonder how much Parker knew about his buyers. It would not be uncommon for a broker, in this case, Goldman Sachs, to leave out some important info about the buyer to the seller, but Parker, who was supposedly a lawyer 35 years ago, should really know better about due diligence, if that is what occurred here.

    Nevertheless, if he already cashed his check, does he really care anymore? The man can drink any 3L of Chateauneuf du Pape that he desires, anyday, anytime.

    That is probably what he really wanted here…an easy out, with some quick cash. Good on him.

    I just wish that he did not sell the WA to an importer, as it appears that he did.

  3. Honestly with Cellar Tracker in full swing do we need Parker or others to help us with buying wine. I look at CT first and see what some of my favorite reviewers are thinking of a wine prior to worrying about WS or Parker. Tanzer I still have respect for.

  4. […] that claim was completely false and easily refuted. (The fact that the wife of the main investor brazenly refuted the claim will be seen as emblematic of the entire fiasco.) Why, they will ask, did Parker […]

  5. I think this is an equally splendid death of the “Points Era” as was it’s birth. It goes without saying that a lot of emotion surrounds Parker (arguably the “Father of Points”), both before and after the sale of his share, but I think the world of wine lovers has a lot to look forward to. Hopefully these events, and the lack of clarity surrounding them, shows the otherwise information-starved that any of what these big publications espouse has biased money behind it.


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