Antonio Galloni leaves the Wine Advocate

antonio galloni Antonio Galloni has announced that he is leaving the Wine Advocate, where he assumed coverage of California and Burgundy less than two years ago. He also reviewed the wines of Champagne and Italy for the publication.

He told the NYT-Diner’s Journal blog that he will be starting his own internet venture though he didn’t specify exact plans and said he is still seeking investors. In the past, Robert Parker derided those writing on the internet as “blobbers.” Galloni may well have an offline presence since he has organized several events, including the “Festa del Barolo.”

Galloni mentioned that the recent sale of the Wine Advocate to investors from Singapore played a part in his decision. At that time, the new editor-in-chief, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, left the door open to current staff departures, telling the WSJ, “There is a plethora of good wine writers out there. It’s a buyer’s market.” So did Galloni jump before he was pushed? The Wine Advocate has all the transparency of a papal conclave–and perhaps just as much smoke! Either way, I wish him the best with his new venture.

The Diner’s Journal post did not comment on who would take over for his coverage areas the Wine Advocate. But does it matter? With Parker selling his stake overseas, his diminished presence at the publication, his downplaying Bordeaux ’11 and ’12, and now Galloni leaving, the publication seems to be at a low. The Ralph Nadir of wine criticism?

Antonio Galloni of the Wine Advocate [Q&A]

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17 Responses to “Antonio Galloni leaves the Wine Advocate”


  1. An incredibly important detail here is that Galloni indicated that he retains the rights to all of his work while he was at The Wine Advocate (perhaps because he was a “consultant” and not an “employee”). So customers on his new sight will be able to see all of his older work. Question is, does The Wine Advocate also have the right to retain all of his old work, or is this going to leave a gaping hole in their product (or will they have to buy it from Galloni in order to fill in that gaping hole)?


  2. Good luck to him, he was certainly different one in the WA and many producers had visits from Antonio, something that never happened before by WA.

    All the best to you and certainly you will fantastic!


  3. I’m available, Lisa, forget all the crap I wrote about you and the Singapore Stooges. Don’t go from Galloni to Baloney, hire the HoseMaster!

    I throw hundreds around like a sex tourist in Thailand! I’m your guy.


  4. I think that Ron Washam would bring energy and prestige to the Wine Advocate. He could cover Asia and the Middle East.


  5. Here’s my vote for the HoseMaster.
    Lisa, really, he can be serious.

    EVO


  6. I think Ron Washam could cover anything, provided it’s small enough…and since wine writers are available in plethora from, I’m offering to write for WA for free, provided I get to cover areas about which I know absolutely nothing.


  7. Yup, Ron to cover the Bankok!


  8. Well, judging by the comment here, Ron Washam is clearly on the inside track to becoming the next reviewer of CA wine for the WA!

    @ Spencer – Yes, it is interesting that Galloni will be taking his notes and scores with him. As you say, it will leave a hole in the WA coverage archive. Also, Galloni’s site indicates a number of items that he appears to have written while employed by the WA yet were never published there. Seems odd and, again, we don’t have full details of what transpired. But it does seem like a hasty departure since Parker commented on eBob that he only heard “hours” before he posted to eBob, so maybe he even heard about it after Asimov?


  9. One other thing: it’s really hard to make a successful career writing a wine newsletter. Given that, it’s surprising that there have been so many launched in the past few years. Heck, journalism writ large is pretty hard to make work right now. The editorial sides at Bloomberg and Reuters, which are doing well, remain tied in corporate structure to the lucrative terminal business. And in wine, Gary Vee had huge success (but not enough for him, in the end) with editorial strapped to the $60 million wine store. Striking out alone is a tough row to hoe, especially as consumers are generally cost-conscious today and paying for wine recommendation may fall pretty low on the list of budgetary priorities. As I said above, I wish him the best and look forward to seeing the details of what he’ll be up to when they emerge.


  10. Well, I wish him well. I’ve always enjoyed his reviews. Meanwhile, is Ron packing his bags for the Far East?


  11. I don’t see Galloni being successful on his own. Look at James Suckling for that and his over the top inflated scores. What can he bring the consumer that has not been done. The only reviewer of merit at this point is the guys over at Tanzer’s site.


  12. I think he can bring honesty, like his done so far at WA, tasting from places, regions, and styles that have been ignored in the past.

    It’s not easy to capture these audience but nothing is impossible.


  13. In my opinion, all of these wine critics (WA, WS, WE, Suckling, Galloni, Tanzer) have made themselves obsolete, because they hand out so many 90 point scores. Also, the quality of wine that is going into the bottle is so good, that buying a wine based on a review is irrelevant. I don’t think most wine drinkers can tell the difference between a 89 point wine and a 94 point wine, but they can sure figure out the price difference.

    Today, it is all about finding the best values, and the top wine retailers have no problem finding plenty of great wines (90+ wines, 85 to 89 point wines or wines haven’t even been reviewed) at all price points. They can point you towards young or old wines depending on your preference

    Most importantly, the new generation of wine drinkers (21 to 35) could care less what the wine critics have to say. This generation nearly always opts for a $15 Malbec from Argentina over a California Cabernet or a bottle of Bordeaux at the $15 to $25 price point. I also don’t think this new generation of wine drinkers are going to pay a subscription fee of $100+ a year when all the information can be found on retailers internet sites.

    It would be interesting to see how many paying subscribers Parker, Suckling and Spectator have under the age of 35. I bet not a lot. In fact, I bet they don’t have a lot under 45.

    Maybe Galloni will target this new generation of wine drinkers, and only focus on wines that retail for less than $50 a bottle.


  14. Fair points, Josh. All i would say is that, if you value independent wine criticism, written by people who are experienced tasters, then you will have to pay for it in future.

    You are also overlooking the fact that many of Galloni’s subscribers will be wine merchants and wineries. If he can get 2000 people to pay to read what he has to say, that’s a decent living. I wish the guy well. And I will subscribe to support him.

    Meanwhile, we wine critics need to think more about how we address the younger generation of wine drinkers. Scores are not enough….

    Tim Atkin MW


  15. Josh: Where I sit, Parker unfortunately hasn’t completely lost his grip. Young people I know in the business make fun of Parker, but when it’s time to close the sale, the points find their way into the conversation. Just sayin’

    Separately, I would argue that the decision to drop $15 on an Argentine Malbec over a similarly priced Bordeaux or California wine is more a matter of QPR and economics than age. (There’s also the small matter of *finding* a decent $15 Bordeaux/Cali Cab. They exist, of course, but they’re not exactly abundant.)


  16. Tim and Dave – Thanks for responding to my post. Let me clarify a few things. I am 41 years old, and I subscribe to 3 different wine publications. I have a true appreciation for wine reviewers (large and small). Now I don’t get caught up in the wine scores, but I value what they have to say about the overall quality of vintages. I think reviewers earn their money when they talk about an off-vintage more so than a great vintage. I also pay very close to attention to the drinking windows they provide.

    Wine merchants (K&L & JJ Buckley to name a few) provide detailed vintage reports for free. These reports are quite good, and I feel that wine drinkers (between the ages of 21 and 35 in the United States) are going to opt for a free report from their wine retailer than pay subscription fees. It is a safe bet, that these retailers are going to produce more of these vintage reports (2010 Bordeaux, 2006 Brunello di Montalcino etc etc) in the future.

    I assume that James Suckling and Robert Parker headed to Asia because they see a better opportunity to find paying subscribers in Asia than in the US. Even though the US is currently the largest market for wine consumption, James Suckling and Robert Parker know that if merchants are providing these detailed reports for free, then why would someone pay $100+ a year. As you know, some of these wine retailers have employees who have tasted thousands and thousands of the same wines, and have strong relationships with wine producers. These employees sound as good as Parker, Suckling and others. Furthermore, the US is saturated with wine reviewers.

    If Parker has 50,000 paying subscribers, he could probably grow his subscriber base by 5x (250,000) if he plays his cards right in Asia. Maybe more. Suckling can probably do the same, and at a subscription fee greater than $100 a year. Frankly, I was surprised that Parker only had 50,000 paying subscribers. Shows you how little I know.

    The other key point is that the wine retailers can talk about wines that they are selling, and have recently tasted. I can’t tell you how many times I have read a review from some of these publications, and then I find out that only 200 cases are for sale in the US, and you can’t find the wine. Or the reviewer tasted the wine 7 years ago when it was released, and has not provided an updated review. Well that doesn’t do me any good.

    $15 Malbec vs a $15 to $25 Bordeaux/Cali Cab —- You hit the nail on the head. The Bordeaux / CaliCab exist but are difficult to find. The new generation of wine drinkers want instant gratification. They can walk into nearly any wine store or grocery store and find a Malbec that is lively and full of character. Pop and pour.

    It will be interesting to see in what direction Mr. Galloni heads. How many wine critics have an MBA from MIT? Pretty impressive.


  17. Hi Josh.

    I have a lot of respect for the guys at JJ Buckley and Berry Bros in the UK, but the key word here is “selling”. I have nothing to sell (except my reports of course) but I think good wine writing, penned by someone who can taste and knows a region well, is more independent and, ultimately, more useful, and at all price levels.

    It’s interesting to go back and see what wine merchants said about the pretty awful 2004 vintage in Burgundy. Most pulled their punches. Why? They want to keep their allocations and sell a few cases to gullible idiots.

    Send me your email (I’m on tjatkin@aol.com) and I’ll send you a free copy of my last two Burgundy reports.

    Thanks for taking the time to keep us wine hacks on our toes.

    Tim


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