Parker signed wines????

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David Glasser
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Post #71  Postby David Glasser » June 6th 2013, 4:16am

So here's my guess as to what happened (caution, wild speculation follows): Mssr Pujols of BVS bought a WA commercial license and some gift subscription cards, then cooked up the idea of marketing an "RP Selection" 100-pointer mixed case all on his own, stretching (exceeding?) the bounds of the commercial license agreement to do so. He then got a writer for the local paper to write a puff piece promotional story which managed to get by the editor with nary a call to WA for any fact checking. The story got repeated by Wine Searcher, and away we go...

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Post #72  Postby Neal.Mollen » June 6th 2013, 4:27am

I think that's got it right, David.

I think Lisa's message explains a lot, and I am grateful for an explanation in the English language. I give Bob a pass on this one given his highly medicated state (although posting while opiated is not a good idea).

Moreover, unlike Keith, I would see anything unusual in a commercial entity putting its name on products it does not make. I doubt Martha Stewart and Mario Batali actually make much of what carries their names. And there is precedent for a "consumer testing" entity doing exactly what TWA was alleged to have done. Think Good Housekeeping. If the new investors want to monetize their good will by doing this, I don't see it as "tacky" or terribly surprising.

I do see this incident as a very clear and emphatic statement that the old TWA is done and gone. This is a legitimate business venture and I wish them well, I suppose, but it could not be a more eloquent statement that the "consumer advocate" mission of the TWA has been replaced with a mercantile approach.

It does, however, materially affect the value of the product to me.
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Post #73  Postby Panos Kakaviatos » June 6th 2013, 5:35am

David Glasser wrote:The latest from Lisa Perotti-Brown:



we recently launched our commercial subscription that incorporates a commercial license to reproduce notes and scores, providing clarity in this matter and better managing how and under what circumstances our tasting notes can be used.

·Bordeaux Vins Selection recently purchased a commercial license. In doing so they can within the terms of the agreement put together their own selection of “RobertParker” rated wines. This is in no way a deal exclusive to them. Other merchants are free to put together their own selections or offers of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate rated wines. We’re aware that merchants have in fact been putting together such offers for some time now. We have simply provided clarity on how this can be done.

·Neither Robert Parker nor the TWA team have had any part in the selection of wines. We are not endorsing or profiting from the packaging or sales of the BVS wine selections.

·We continue to maintain our strict policy of not profiting from the sale of wine. Endorsing wines for profit is in direct conflict with the policy we have maintained for more than 34 years. We have no plans to change this policy.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Lisa"


A basic question comes to mind. When Lisa writes that a commercial license is "granted" (er, that means sold) does that not mean that the enterprise Wine Advocate is at least indirectly then "profiting" from the sale of wine? For if they did not sell that commercial license, which permits merchants to then package wine sales under the "Robert Parker Selection", then this thing would not have been possible, no?
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Post #74  Postby Byron Hewett » June 6th 2013, 5:39am

I don't think you can say it is wrong for The Wine Advocate to find a way to extract more revenue from retailers since they fall all over themselves to use the scores all the time. No question TWA helps retailers sell more wine. Seems to me that if they can offer a premium product that retailers are willing to buy, then that is a legitimate business decision on their part. To me, it is surprising that they didn't do this a long time ago.

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Post #75  Postby Kyle Schlachter » June 6th 2013, 5:57am

David Glasser wrote:The latest from Lisa Perotti-Brown:

[i]
·Bordeaux Vins Selection recently purchased a commercial license.

·We sold Bordeaux Vins Selection a pack of our new “Gift Subscription Cards” to eRobertParker.com.


So it would seem that money did exchange hands. Both BVS and Parker clearly stated no money was exchanged. Which story is most truthful? I wonder if a "special" commercial license was purchased with "special" consideration...
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Post #76  Postby Robert Alfert, Jr. » June 6th 2013, 6:01am

Panos Kakaviatos wrote:A basic question comes to mind. When Lisa writes that a commercial license is "granted" (er, that means sold) does that not mean that the enterprise Wine Advocate is at least indirectly then "profiting" from the sale of wine? For if they did not sell that commercial license, which permits merchants to then package wine sales under the "Robert Parker Selection", then this thing would not have been possible, no?


Yes.

It's a direct conflict with the original TWA mission. Perhaps not an issue as Neal notes if the mission has now switched to a purely commercial enterprise.

The problem is, the commercial license is only of value to retailers if it helps them sell wines. Points help them sell wine. The higher the points, the easier to move the product. The lower the points, the less likely that the retailer will use TWA's "shelf-talkers". So there is a conflict between an objective, fair rating of a wine and the desire to sell commercial licenses, which arguably turn on higher points.

I really do not care either way since I bailed on my TWA subscription around 1999, but I will call BS when I smell it.
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Post #77  Postby Panos Kakaviatos » June 6th 2013, 6:12am

Byron Hewett wrote:I don't think you can say it is wrong for The Wine Advocate to find a way to extract more revenue from retailers since they fall all over themselves to use the scores all the time. No question TWA helps retailers sell more wine. Seems to me that if they can offer a premium product that retailers are willing to buy, then that is a legitimate business decision on their part. To me, it is surprising that they didn't do this a long time ago.

Byron




OK, fair enough.
One can argue that merchants pay for the newsletter, and then sell wines based on scores from that newsletter.
So what's the big deal? This is another way for merchants to use Parker points to sell the wines they have in stock. And point chasers will no doubt love this, right?
But why then are reasonable people like Neal Mollen and Mike Evans - hardly firebrand evil bloggers whose goal is to damn Parker - concerned about the "changed nature" of the Wine Advocate?
Perhaps one reason could be Mike's valid point, pardon the pun, about possible pressure, as a result of selling such licences, to not change scores over time.
Perhaps that pressure does not exist, perhaps all these concerns do not amount to a hill of beans?
How does that saying go? "Perception is reality?"
An image has been created of a more direct link between "granting" a license to businesses to enhance wine sales, coming from an institution that began as a consumer advocate publication whose priority was not to help industry (based on Ralph Nader, etc etc), but to give honest critiques on what the wines taste like.
Perhaps people are being too idealistic? In any case, this is being written up by the media and by bloggers because of the image it is creating, whether the Wine Advocate likes that or not.
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Post #78  Postby Jay Miller » June 6th 2013, 6:26am

Ken V wrote:
M Champney wrote:
Peter Kleban wrote:"I dealt with the new owners of WA in Singapore, and directly with RP", explained Bernard Pujol. "I did not write a check, there was no commercial transaction, but I have a deal with them," he said, remaining discrete about the last point.

OK guys, have at it! [cheers.gif] [snort.gif]

Wouldn't that last bit be "wishing to remain discrete..."?

The most shocking thing here is that you two fans of the English language and science seem to be confusing "discrete" and "discreet".

[snort.gif]


I wouldn't want to be attached to this whole mess either.
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Post #79  Postby Peter Kleban » June 6th 2013, 6:36am

"We spoke with Bordeaux Vins Selection last night to confirm that Robert Parker’s signature was not to be used in their packaging, in the format of our logo or otherwise. "

Sounds like they finally realized that the optics were really bad. Any loopholes in what she says re WA not profiting from this?
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Post #80  Postby Dan Collins » June 6th 2013, 7:11am

I don't think much has been resolved.

Parker: “… the usage extends to the autograph signature that is part of the logo all of you see on this site so frequently…”

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW: “We spoke with Bordeaux Vins Selection last night to confirm that Robert Parker’s signature was not to be used in their packaging, in the format of our logo or otherwise.”

Parker: “… we have no commercial relationship or financial incentive in this …”

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW: “Bordeaux Vins Selection recently purchased a commercial license. In doing so they can within the terms of the agreement put together their own selection of “RobertParker” rated wines.”
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Post #81  Postby Keith Levenberg » June 6th 2013, 7:13am

If Ms Brown's account is accurate, then Bernard Pujol was either lying or misquoted in the line in the Wine-Searcher article, "According to Pujol, the deal was struck with the new owners of The Wine Advocate, based in Singapore, and with Parker himself."

Has anyone seen the "commercial license" at issue? If it provides the "clarity" that Ms. Brown references it should not be hard to figure out whether a wood case branded with the Wine Advocate logo/Parker's signature and the phrase "ROBERT PARKER SELECTION" (see image on the Sud-Ouest article, http://www.sudouest.fr/2013/06/04/signe ... 75-789.php) is allowed under the license or is not. If it is not provided for, it seems difficult to imagine that the Bordeaux personalities involved would have gone so far as to launch this concept complete with branded cases and posed PR photos absent some kind of additional agreement with the Wine Advocate. I do not believe these people are so dumb as to believe they could use another business's trade dress to sell their product without any kind of permission.

So the truth pretty much has to be one of these things:
1) This concept was allowed under the commercial license. But then why would Ms Brown need to speak with BVS "to confirm that Robert Parker's signature was not to be used in their packaging, in the format of our logo or otherwise"?
2) This concept was not allowed under the commercial license and BVS reached a separate agreement with the Wine Advocate, as the Wine-Searcher article claims.
3) This concept was not allowed under the commercial license and BVS and the five proprietors at issue, including people who have received extremely good press and plenty of "kudos" from the Wine Advocate, did it in breach of the commercial license and in complete ignorance/apathy of the possibility that they might irritate the Wine Advocate or Parker in doing so.

I suspect that there is more reporting to be done here.
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Post #82  Postby Ken V » June 6th 2013, 7:17am

Others can continue to rehash the nuances of what they think the WA should or shouldn't do, but to me the story here now is the article on Wine Searcher linked to in the OP (and the original article in French on which it is based which I cannot read). I notice that the Wine Searcher article says nothing about reaching out to the WA for comment before publishing this story. I would say that Lisa PB's response shows that there is really no story here, or certainly no scoop or major scandal. Again, I understand if you still think this is wrong, but it is not what it was claimed to be in that story.
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Post #83  Postby Mike Evans » June 6th 2013, 7:20am

Panos, thanks for categorizing me as a reasonable person, though I will confess to no small amount of snark in my first post in this thread.

LPB's clarification changes my opinion considerably. My understanding is that WA is trying to control the use of its material by others for commercial purposes much more tightly for now than in the past. I think they have several reasons for doing so, but the widespread publication of WA scores and tasting notes by wine sellers has made it very easy to get ratings and notes without having to subscribe to the WA is probably the most important one.

The primary instrument to give the WA more control is a new or revised licensing scheme for commercial use of WA ratings and notes, IIRC. If, as seems to be the case, the packager of this 100 point offering was merely relying on its commercial license which allows it to use WA scores or notes to market wine in the same way that any other commercial users can use WA content, including retailers, importers, and distributors who include WA scores and notes on shelf talkers and website wine descriptions, then I see no great threats to independence, at least in principle. Threats could develop in practice, but I'm personally willing to wait and see how the process shakes out.

I have one serious caveat, however. The claim that the offering would include RP's signature raised a serious concern, and LPB's statement that it won't be used addresses that issue. But, while LPB's statement said that neither Parker nor the WA selected the wine, it did not state that the licensee can't use the phrase "Robert Parker Selection." If the license allows it, then they need to modify their licenses. If a commercial user can imply that their wines were selected by RP or TWA, that is a big issue. I'm going to give LPB the benefit of the doubt and assume that phrase will be removed as well, and hope that the WA zealously enforces a rule that prohibits any statement by a licensee, either express or implied, that RP endorses a specific offering. For example, I worry about a hypothetical marketing weasel calling a section of a store featuring wines with RP wines with ratings of 95 or above "RP Selections," and hope that would be prohibited.
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Post #84  Postby Ken V » June 6th 2013, 7:24am

Keith, here is the Commercial Subscription Agreement. You should not need a login to read it.

https://www.erobertparker.com/info/suba ... ercial.asp
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Post #85  Postby Mike Evans » June 6th 2013, 7:24am

Ken V wrote:Others can continue to rehash the nuances of what they think the WA should or shouldn't do, but to me the story here now is the article on Wine Searcher linked to in the OP (and the original article in French on which it is based which I cannot read). I notice that the Wine Searcher article says nothing about reaching out to the WA for comment before publishing this story. I would say that Lisa PB's response shows that there is really no story here, or certainly no scoop or major scandal. Again, I understand if you still think this is wrong, but it is not what it was claimed to be in that story.


Keith's excellent analysis illustrates why there are still questions to be answered, and poses those questions.
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Post #86  Postby Ken V » June 6th 2013, 7:42am

Mike Evans wrote:
Ken V wrote:Others can continue to rehash the nuances of what they think the WA should or shouldn't do, but to me the story here now is the article on Wine Searcher linked to in the OP (and the original article in French on which it is based which I cannot read). I notice that the Wine Searcher article says nothing about reaching out to the WA for comment before publishing this story. I would say that Lisa PB's response shows that there is really no story here, or certainly no scoop or major scandal. Again, I understand if you still think this is wrong, but it is not what it was claimed to be in that story.


Keith's excellent analysis illustrates why there are still questions to be answered, and poses those questions.

I see Keith's points, but I wrote my post before reading that. In any case, my main point is that the true story is not as portrayed in the Wine Searcher article, which is not in conflict with what Keith wrote. If nothing else, it is certainly more of a he said/she said story and as Keith says "I suspect that there is more reporting to be done here." which is the main point I was making.
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Post #87  Postby Mike Evans » June 6th 2013, 7:45am

Skimming the license agreement, it appears that nothing authorizes a licensee to represent that RP or TWA endorses any commercial product. Unless there was a separate agreement for this offering, I'm a little surprised that LPB's statement was as measured as it was on the issue of the seller's implication that RP endorsed this product. I would expect a strong declaration that RP in no way endorsed this offering or selected the wines to be included. That said, it is entirely possible that much more strongly worded communications are happening behind the scenes, and/or that the initial statement was deliberately limited to do initial reputation control while waiting for advice from counsel before saying more.

As an aside, the WA should be commended for specifically addressing in the license some of the deceptive practices some wine sellers have engaged in with RP notes and ratings, such as only updating ratings when scores go up or using a rating or note for one vintage for another vintage, in many cases not showing the vintage for which the note and rating applied so the customer can't tell that is happening.
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Post #88  Postby Keith Levenberg » June 6th 2013, 7:53am

Ken V wrote:Keith, here is the Commercial Subscription Agreement. You should not need a login to read it.

https://www.erobertparker.com/info/suba ... ercial.asp

Thanks. This would seem to undermine Ms. Brown's statement that BVS "can within the terms of the agreement put together their own selection of 'RobertParker' rated wines. This is in no way a deal exclusive to them. Other merchants are free to put together their own selections or offers of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate rated wines." What the commercial license actually provides is that:
- Licensees are free to use "the Content" of the Wine Advocate. The "Content" is defined as "[t]he wine tasting notes, reviews and scores available on the Site, as well as the Wine Advocate Vintage Guide."
- Any usage of "the Content" must be in accordange with the "Usage Guidelines." The "Usage Guidelines" are "the only permitted formatting for usage of the Content." (emphasis added)
- "No use of the Site or the Content is permitted except as specifically provided herein."
- The "Usage Guidelines" appear to speak solely to the quotation of tasting notes in emails, catalogs, web listings, shelf-talkers, etc. Nothing in the Usage Guidelines specifically authorizes the usage of Wine Advocate trade dress on product packaging nor the use of the phrase "ROBERT PARKER SELECTION."
- The Usage Guidelines do state that "[t]he Wine Advocate must be given credit for all of our information used" and that "[t]he tasting note and score must always be accurate and must be assigned to the correct vintage of the wine."

One could, I suppose, make the argument that the Wine Advocate branding on the OWC and the phrase "ROBERT PARKER SELECTION" merely "give[s] credit" for the content, and of course the score being referenced is "accurate." That strikes me as a difficult argument to make, however (certainly, such usage is not "specifically provided herein"), and apparently Ms. Brown agrees based on her statement that she asked the people involved to stop.

Ms. Brown's statement that the license "provide[s] clarity" on how merchants can "put together their own selections or offers of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate rated wines" is an overstatement at best. The only thing the license provides clarity on is how to quote Wine Advocate scores and tasting notes in catalogs and promotional material. Likewise, Ms. Brown's statement that merchants "can within the terms of the agreement put together their own selection of 'RobertParker' rated wines" only makes sense if, by "put together their own selection," all that is meant is that they buy the wines they want and offer them for sale on a platform or with shelf talkers quoting Wine Advocate reviews. I don't see any support in the agreement for the idea that merchants "can within the terms of the agreement" package wines in a case branded with Robert Parker's name or signature and sell them as "ROBERT PARKER SELECTIONS." So the people involved with the concept at issue here have either struck another agreement to do so, or have chosen to proceed without another agreement and with a strong claim that they are in violation of the one agreement they did sign.
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Post #89  Postby Bruce G » June 6th 2013, 8:12am

Keith Levenberg wrote:So the people involved with the concept at issue here have either struck another agreement to do so, or have chosen to proceed without another agreement and with a strong claim that they are in violation of the one agreement they did sign.


I think, simply based on Occam's principle, that it is the latter.
Under the new licensing, shelf talkers (with the WA logo?) are OK.
Under the new licensing, a wine shops catalog could devote print to Robert Parker Favorites, entitling whole pages "Parker 95+ Point Wines" (and again, obstensibly, include the logo).
How about individual stickers for bottles?.... have em printed up in "Wine Advocate XX Points!!!" format, ten sets from 91 points to 100 points. OK or not?

I imagine that the people involved in this incident wanted to see how much they had purchased with their licensing fee, and pushed the envelope a bit.

It would be helpful if the facts were revealed more completely, but I don't see much to get excited about here.
It is just more of the same ambiguity we've dealt with for years now...
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Post #90  Postby Todd F r e n c h » June 6th 2013, 8:59am

So if WineBerserkers purchases a commercial license, I can change the forum branding to include Robert Parker's signature?

Seems odd that anyone purchasing a commercial license has the right to use the logo/signature.
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Post #91  Postby Peter Kleban » June 6th 2013, 9:12am

Hey, could we put Squire's image on our webpage? [cheers.gif] [snort.gif] [stirthepothal.gif]
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Post #92  Postby Alan C h a n » June 6th 2013, 9:48am

If Pujol's statements about direct negotiations and having a deal have something to them, then it's hard to believe that all he had was the regular commercial license without more. Is there some backtracking happening here?

I don't care what commercial stance Wine Advocate takes - but whatever they choose, they should just own the decision. Brand the hell out of TWA, but if so, at least don't pretend nothing has changed independence-wise.
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Post #93  Postby kylemittskus » June 6th 2013, 12:52pm

Lots of legal analysis going on, which I appreciate. But I see the issue pretty plainly and simply:

LPB said: "·Neither Robert Parker nor the TWA team have had any part in the selection of wines. We are not endorsing or profiting from the packaging or sales of the BVS wine selections."

Uh... isn't that exactly what they're doing by selling a Commercial license which grants the purchaser to do things like make a "Robert Parker-rated" selection offer? No license (which was bought) means no such usage of the name. Seems like a conflict of interest to me.
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Post #94  Postby Larry P » June 6th 2013, 1:18pm

Todd F r e n c h wrote:Seems odd that anyone purchasing a commercial license has the right to use the logo/signature.


I imagine this idea starts with the thought that it would be good promotion for the brand to have the logo ever-present on shelf talkers. So, they license use of the logo. Problem is, the logo is actually RMP's signature and a clever distributor figures he's now licensed to create a "Parker Signature" offer. Call it Schadenfreude but I find the whole thing kind of funny, in the context of the ethical standing (and falling) of TWA.

Moral of the story: Don't make your signature your brand. If you do, be careful selling it to the Singapore bankers.

I do wish Mr. Parker well in recovering from his surgery.
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Post #95  Postby Keith Levenberg » June 6th 2013, 1:51pm

Larry P wrote:
Todd F r e n c h wrote:Seems odd that anyone purchasing a commercial license has the right to use the logo/signature.


I imagine this idea starts with the thought that it would be good promotion for the brand to have the logo ever-present on shelf talkers. So, they license use of the logo.

No, there is nothing in the commercial license that addresses the use of the logo. So if BVS licensed the use of the logo, it would have to have been pursuant to another agreement.
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Post #96  Postby Bill Klapp » June 6th 2013, 4:19pm

I have less than no interest in this foolishness, but for those of you who like Easter egg hunts (or snipe hunts), ponder this: if Pujol was merely stretching the limit of his commercial license on his own and then stretching the truth about his direct "deal" with WA and Parker himself (which, admittedly, should surprise nobody if the perp is a Bordeaux negociant), then where did the USB come from, and why was it not mentioned by Parker or Perrotti-Brown? Does every new gift card subscriber get one? Do they come in specially marked boxes of Cap'n Crunch?
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Post #97  Postby Bruce G » June 6th 2013, 5:14pm

Bill Klapp wrote:I have less than no interest in this foolishness, but for those of you who like Easter egg hunts (or snipe hunts), ponder this...


"Snipe hunts" really does cut to the heart of the issue.

The shared history regarding the WA's ethical stance(s) has been one of mutual disappointment: consumers are continually disappointed in finding out things are not as they assumed, and Mr. Parker is disappointed that the consumer fails to trust him implicitly.

I see no benefit in parsing the pronouncements from WA corporate HQ.
On ethics, Mr. Parker and WA have not traditionally accepted advertisting revenues. Additionally, Mr. Parker has been very active in discussing some of the potential conflicts of interest faced by wine reviewers.
These are both very positive points, and I applaud him for this.

But, that really is the sum total of the ethical stance held by RP/WA... no ads, and raising flags about conflict of interest matters.
Beyond this is a great big world of grey.
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Ken V
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Post #98  Postby Ken V » June 6th 2013, 5:16pm

Bill Klapp wrote:I have less than no interest in this foolishness, but for those of you who like Easter egg hunts (or snipe hunts), ponder this: if Pujol was merely stretching the limit of his commercial license on his own and then stretching the truth about his direct "deal" with WA and Parker himself (which, admittedly, should surprise nobody if the perp is a Bordeaux negociant), then where did the USB come from, and why was it not mentioned by Parker or Perrotti-Brown? Does every new gift card subscriber get one? Do they come in specially marked boxes of Cap'n Crunch?

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Post #99  Postby David Glasser » June 6th 2013, 5:25pm

Bill, it is exactly like Cap'n Crunch. The USBs are at the bottom of the 100-point bottles that come in the specially marked wooden box. You have to drink the wine to get the USB. Or if all you want is the prize at the bottom, you dump out the wine to get at it.

[grin.gif]
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Post #100  Postby David Glasser » June 6th 2013, 5:28pm

Todd F r e n c h wrote:So if WineBerserkers purchases a commercial license, I can change the forum branding to include Robert Parker's signature?


No. That's not what the commercial license agreement says, at least as I read it. And when Pujols tried it, he was told to stop.
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Post #101  Postby Illusha N » June 6th 2013, 5:31pm

Bill Klapp wrote:I have less than no interest in this foolishness, but for those of you who like Easter egg hunts (or snipe hunts), ponder this: if Pujol was merely stretching the limit of his commercial license on his own and then stretching the truth about his direct "deal" with WA and Parker himself (which, admittedly, should surprise nobody if the perp is a Bordeaux negociant), then where did the USB come from, and why was it not mentioned by Parker or Perrotti-Brown? Does every new gift card subscriber get one? Do they come in specially marked boxes of Cap'n Crunch?


In fairness, if Pujol stretched what he was able to do with the license, could he not have created the idea of the USB by himself, as well?
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Post #102  Postby Peter Kleban » June 6th 2013, 6:32pm

Ah, the mere menton of Lisa P-B elicits a cry of outraged horror from deepest Italy!
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Post #103  Postby Bill Klapp » June 6th 2013, 11:26pm

Peter Kleban wrote:Wow, that's really over the top. So much for independence of WA.

Nah, Pete, it was the lightbulb finally coming on over your head for the first time, and after only 5,300+ posts. I say, with more than a little pride, "I told you so". Welcome to reality...
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Post #104  Postby Peter Chiu » June 7th 2013, 6:11am

Bill Klapp wrote:
Peter Kleban wrote:Wow, that's really over the top. So much for independence of WA.

Nah, Pete, it was the lightbulb finally coming on over your head for the first time, and after only 5,300+ posts. I say, with more than a little pride, "I told you so". Welcome to reality...


[rofl.gif] pileon
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Post #105  Postby Cole Kendall » June 7th 2013, 7:55am

Here's my question: say Parker rates a wine 100 and I put together a 100 point Robert Parker case including this wine. What happens when the rating gets changed? Or there's an HG rating? Can I still use the original 100 points or do I have to change every time a new WA comes out? Is there implicit pressure on the rater not to downgrade wines I have just acquired for resale? etc. etc.

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