The Decanter Power List 2013

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9 Robert Parker Jr (3)
Chairman and CEO, The Wine Advocate, 65
No narrat ive ha s been more gripping than the loosening of The Wine Advocate’s hold during the past year. While Parker remains a towering figure (whoever tastes for TWA, the scores are still ‘Parker points’) he is now a stateless emperor, having sold a majority share in the publication for a reported US$15m, to a group of Asian businessmen led by Soo Hoo Khoon Peng, former MD of Singaporean retailer Hermitage Wines. It is Soo Hoo’s connections to retail (his wife still has shares in Hermitage) that prompted nigglings about TWAs much-vaunted independence. Then TWA got involved in a dispute with Antonio Galloni, Parker’s ex-dauphin, suing him for fraud, defamation and breach of contract, before settling out of court. Parker-watchers tot up the people he has fallen out with, from tit-for-tat lawsuits with his French translator Hanna Agostini, to the ‘tasting-for-cash’ scandal involving former MW Pancho Campo and Jay Miller in Spain, in which there was found to be ‘an appearance of impropriety’ on TWA’s part. It is unclear how much Parker himself is tainted by all this: he is bigger than the publication, but is inextricably linked. He is set to take on the California beat once again – but as styles evolve there, and more winemakers craft leaner, fresher wines, will he remain relevant?