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eRobertParker.com

Sometime ago, I wrote a little blurb about the pending arrival of eRobertParker.com, the website for noted wine critic Robert Parker (for a thorough biography of Robert Parker, I recommend that you read the bio on eRobertParker.com).  In that review, which I constructed from the marketing material sent to me, I incorrectly stated that eRobertParker.com was not going to publish Robert Parkerís wine reviews as distributed in his newsletter, The Wine Advocate, for six months.  Fairly quickly, I received an email from Parkerís partner correcting my statement and pointing out that the reviews would be published on the website 60 days after appearing in The Wine Advocate.  By the time my blurb was published on winostuff.com and I received the email, eRobertParker.com was up and running.  I promised the folks at eRobertParker.com that my review would be forthcoming.  Alas, I didnít make it happen.  Financial restructuring consumed my days from January until the end of March.  Since then, I have had to catch up on life by doing things like hosting a class reunion, visiting the WinoJohn family, taking my daughter to surgery (that was a toughie!), etc.  With only 8 days left until my departure for the WinoWallyWorld of Wonderful Golf trip to Ireland, I need to keep my promise and write the review.  I want to point out that I purchased a subscription to eRobertParker.com in order to uphold the Parker tradition of purchasing the wines that he reviews.  Of course, if he likes the review, we could handle an extended subscription since we canít possibly hold ourselves out to be as morally sound (or as financially successful in the wine world) as Mr. Parker.

Anyone can take a sneak peak at eRobertParker.com.  Thatís because the site asks you to register and gives you a few limited uses before your registration expires and you either pay up or sign in under a different internet user name.  I used the sneak feature for an hour or so, but quickly ran out of room (the last time I used this, it didnít grant you access to the entire site) and decided to subscribe.  Since my subscription in January, the site has improved.

The home page is clean, simple, and effective (take note, WinoJohn!).  Being a native of Baltimore (Robert Parkerís hometown too!), I can attest that the photo of Mr. Parker is a photo of Mr. Parker and not a stick figure representation (like the one we have of WinoBob).  The home page has a three column layout with the left hand column providing links to Parker products and info, the center column links to daily wine news, and the right hand column providing a wine of the day (gosh, we could do that too if Wino Bob would sip like a professional taster instead of guzzle.  Even WBís liver canít take a bottle of wine every day!) and Mark Squiresí Wine Bulletin Board.

Whatís New sounds like a category belonging to another major wine website.  However, eRobertParker.com chooses to use this descriptor to provide news about what recently changed on the wine site.  You can also find out about Robert Parker and Pierre Rovani (his wine tasting sidekick).  I will note that Parker is one of the few foreigners to receive both of Franceís highest honors for civilians, the Legion of Honor and Order of Merit (I believe that comedian Jerry Lewis may be another and Iíll leave it up to Wino John to figure out a comment about the connection between the two).

There are two links for The Wine Advocate, Parkerís first publication to which I subscribe.  I found the first link a little awkward in that there are a number of screens required for navigation in order to get to the order form.  Also, the ďforthcomingĒ preview for The Wine Advocate provides a review of whatís already available to subscribers.  Iím not sure what the percentage overlap of Advocate subscribers and eRobertParker.com subscribers is, but I wouldnít mind knowing whatís coming in my next Advocate rather than seeing forthcoming news about the issue that I have.  I would recommend a clarification of this area.  The second link is fairly direct:  Subscribe to The Wine Advocate.  Since Iím already a subscriber, I didnít try that one but assume that it works.

eRobertParker.com has an Education Links and Commercial Links section.  The Education Links are non-commercial, educationally focused, and in alphabetical order.  While the alpha order is fine for now, the number of links could be enhanced just from scouring a few of the finer links sites (like winostuff.com) and categorization according to Mr. Parkerís priorities could be employed for quicker reader scanning.  The commercial links page is a listing of commercial food and wine sites with links to eRobertParker.com.  I was particularly disappointed to not see winostuff.com listed here since I believe our site attempts to provide continuous journalistic repartee and is not ďprimarily a links siteĒ which is a commercial site that eRobertParker will not link to (of course, a totally unbiased reviewer would not let this cloud their review and, neither will I).  I did find an interesting link to vineswinger.com and all that Iíll say about that is that Wino Bob needs to borrow a photo to submit and heíll be the talk of the town (note to WinoJohn:  we need to bribe these guys with a link and get a picture of WinoBob in the swingers section).

The Bookstore links provides you with a way to buy the Robert Parker books that are currently in print through Amazon.com.  Bravo!  Rather than Mr. Parker having to deal with shipping, etc., this site has Amazon handle it.  At the same time, I suspect that many of the subscribers have these books.  If youíre a subscriber to The Wine Advocate, you can get autographed copies from Mr. Parker whenever he publishes a new book.  I wonder how many books are actually sold through this link.

Other products and services currently features The Wine Advocate, Robert Parkerís Wine Advisor and Cellar Manager, The Wine Price File, and winealert.com.  Weíve already discussed the Advocate.  The Wine Advisor and Cellar Manager software is excellent software for managing a cellar.  I think itís much easier to use if you have a laptop that you can take into your cellar for inventory purposes.   A future feature that may be available as soon as June 2002 is that owners of the Wine Advisor software may be able to download updates from eRobertParker.com once theyíre available.  It only makes sense and Iíll cherish that feature as soon as itís available.  The Wine Price File is a book with prices on wines going back to the 1600ís.  If youíre a serious buyer who attends auctions, this may be handy.  For the rest of us, weíll just wonder who uses this.  WineAlert.com is another tool for the serious buyer.  This is a site that tracks the prices on over 25,000 wines worldwide.  However, only if you are a paid member will you have that type of access.  The free access is only for 2,000 wines.  Iím not sure that Parker is an owner of this site, but the link is there.

The wine news column has wine news provided by winebusiness.com.  Itís nice, but really filler given that most of the stuff can be found elsewhere on the net.

If youíve read this far, you may say, ďWino Wally, why did you subscribe to eRobertParker.com?Ē  Iím about to tell you.  While all of the above features are nice and round out the siteís offering, what this site really offers are four sophisticated searches for any wine that Parker has ever reviewed.  You can do a Text Search, Category Search, Vintage Search, and Advanced Search.  The different searches are handy for whatever wino level you aspire to.  I blew through about 20 searches when I used the trial version of eRobertParker.com and after seeing the results, I said this is much quicker and easier than looking it up in old issues of The Wine Advocate.  The wines reviewed have links to the producers.  eRobertParker.com claims that its 1,500 producer links are more extensive than anywhere else on the web.  I canít verify that claim yet, but believe that there is at least one wine website which claims links to 3,000 producers.  The links are a nice touch, particularly for more information about the producer.

I also found The Hedonistsí Gazette extremely enjoyable.  These are tasting notes from Robert and Pierre and have not been published.  Quite frankly, it shows that a guy who tastes almost 40,000 wines per year can be normal like the rest of us.  Reading these is also worth the subscription price.

If you are a serious wine connoisseur, you should give eRobertParker.com a try.  For those of you who are already Wine Advocate subscribers, you wonít regret it.  If youíre a not-so-serious connoisseur, you may enjoy the site as well.  While it wonít provide all of the humor that a site like winostuff.com may provide, youíll find the wine database something that you continue to come back and review.  Once in a while, youíll even find that you have a few bottles of some of the wines reviewed by Parker in your cellar.  If you find that most of your wines have been reviewed by Parker, please contact the winostuff staff so that we can check your claim and test, er taste, your wines.

Wino Wally
May 13, 2002


 

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