Parker Taps Heimoff as Next Cali-Critic

Former Wine Enthusiast editor takes over for Galloni

World-famous wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr., who rocked the wine world in December by announcing the sale of his newsletter The Wine Advocate to Singapore-based investors—and then again in March by suing his former lead critic Antonio Galloni for fraud, defamation and turning into a weenie—has shocked enophiles yet again.

He announced that in order to devote proper energies into his newfound liti­gious pugilism, he will no longer review wines at all. Further, he is turning over the California-beat tasting duties to Steve Heimoff, formerly the Left Coast Editor of a Wine Enthu­siast magazine.

News of this decision appeared over the weekend in a Wall Street Journal article written by Lettie Teague, whose previous Parker “scoop” in December was so riddled with errors that it had to be reissued the following week. Nonetheless, Ms. Teague quoted Mr. Parker as saying, “Heimoff is undoubtedly the right choice to take over the respon­si­bility of ensuring that Napa and Sonoma vintners simul­ta­ne­ously kowtow and tremble at the mention of The Wine Advocate. Yes, I know, he is a blobber [Mr. Parker’s term of endearment for bloggers], and he has tradi­tionally been way too stingy with 100-point scores while I’ve been dishing them out like candy. But he is above all else a preter­nat­ually cranky, chron­i­cally pompous and brutally conde­scending sono­fabitch. And that’s what being a respected wine critic really requires nowadays.”

Mr. Heimoff, who has come to be better-known as a blogger than a wine writer thanks to the fact that his eponymous blog generates more traffic than the magazine he formerly wrote for, is part of a dwin­dling coterie of American wine critics who believe that the highest calling of wine jour­nalism is to churn out numerical ratings based on blind flight after blind flight of wines sampled without a crumb of food.

In order to assume the title of Wine Advocate Chief Cali­fonia Critic, Mr. Heimoff will, of course, need to cease and desist his blog. Dozens of fellow wine bloggers, however, noted that this is no big deal, as for at least the past year, except when blogging about his dog Gus, Heimoff had resorted to recy­cling the same tired posts, typi­cally using sundry articles and Wikipedia defi­n­i­tions as launching points for ego-driven missives designed mostly to prompt syco­phantic reader comments.

Mean­while, Wine Enthu­siast publisher Adam Strum insisted that Heimoff’s exodus was totally expected at the magazine, which has long aban­doned actual articles, focusing instead on a so-called Buying Guide that starts out each month with a multi-page gallery of adver­tise­ments masquerading as editorial reviews. “Nothing will change,” said Strum. “Our staff of no-name critics will continue to earn $10 per review, and we will leverage those reviews by duping wineries into buying over­priced  label repro­duc­tions. At the same time, at our magazine website, we will continue to produce high-quality videos that no one watches. And readers will still be able to conve­niently toggle over to Wine Express, the site where we actually sell wine, powered by Wine Spec­tator and Wine Advocate ratings. Steve’s passionate defense of the 100-point scale will serve him—and us—well, and we look forward to selling more ‘WA90’ rated wine now than ever. Plus, WE ratings will continue to be the go-to scores for bricks and mortar retailers from coast to coast–that is, of course, when higher ratings from WS and WA do not exist.”

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