The two leading guides to gastronomy and oenology became fully merged this month, with Michelin announcing the completion of its 100 per cent ownership of Robert Parker’s leading wine publication, The Wine Advocate. In 2017 we commented on Michelin’s acquisition of a ‘strategic’ 40 per cent stake in the platform established by the world’s most influential wine critic.
Robert Parker Jnr first set up The Wine Advocate in 1978 whilst still a practicing lawyer, with a passion for wine and an extraordinary palate. Off the back of the publication of his own tasting notes, The Wine Advocate became one of the most important global sources of information on wines from all over the world. Since then the publication has grown to produce over 40,000 reviews a year with an extended team located in offices in the US and Singapore. The reputations of Lisa Perrotti-Brown and, formerly Neal Martin, have certainly been advanced and wine-makers have been known to adjust their blends to appeal to the Parker Palate in the past.
Michelin, the tyre-maker, first published their Guide to Restaurants and Hotels in 1900 with the aim of increasing the number of cars on the road. Since then it has become one of the foremost guides to consumers on fine dining and its awards probably the most aspirational for Chefs and their restaurants to achieve. In 2017, Michelin acquired a 40 per cent stake in The Wine Advocate for an undisclosed sum, making Michelin one of the most powerful consumer influencers in the world of food and wine.
Throughout this evolution of ownership, Parker has steadily reduced his role; in 2012 he sold a ‘substantial interest’ in the platform to a group of Singapore-based investors and handed the ‘Editor-in-Chief’ role over to Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW. In 2015 he announced his retirement from the Bordeaux En Primeur tastings and at the time passed the baton to his proposed successor, Neal Martin. Finally, in May 2019 he announced his full retirement and now the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle has dropped into place with the completion of Michelin’s acquisition of The Wine Advocate to become 100 per cent owners.
Michelin announced their full ownership at a press conference in New York on the 22nd November and newly appointed CEO of The Wine Advocate, Nicolas Achard stated that “Leading RPWA’s passionate teams is not only thrilling, but also an incredible opportunity to combine the strengths of The Michelin Guide and The Wine Advocate.” Furthermore, “People curious about wine and gastronomy will be offered a unique set of experiences thanks to the internationally recognised know-how and independent, unbiased selections of both companies.”
It certainly makes a lot of sense and for increasingly engaged consumers who want to know more about wine and where they can enjoy it matched with great food it can only continue to broaden understanding, enjoyment and future demand.
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