Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

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Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

Yes
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No
185
59%
 
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Julian Marshall
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#151 Post by Julian Marshall »

Tvrtko C. wrote: May 3rd, 2021, 10:41 am
Julian Marshall wrote: May 3rd, 2021, 6:36 am I don't think anyone has brought this up yet - in one of his posts defending his decision, AG mentioned that another publication offers the same, without disclosing the name. I had read somewhere that it was JR, so I had a look, and sure enough, she does:

https://www.jancisrobinson.com/membership

If you don't want to look, there are two 48 hour preview options - Gold, for £125 and Professional, for £180 (per year, not per month!), the difference being that with the more expensive option, you can reuse notes for commercial purposes.

So, you might ask, why should AG not do the same?

Why indeed - well, the difference of the price is not for nothing. Notwithstanding the quality of her work, I don't remember any JR score or note having an impact on any wine's price. I think JR has consciously ploughed her own furrow, which people like or not, but which does not have the same profile as RMP before and AG now. The scoring system is one reason, the notes themselves are another.

The other difference is the openness - JR's is there for all subscribers to see before clicking on the subscription option they prefer.

Also it was not, I imagine, created the week before EP.

Aside from the obvious and very superficial literal analogy, this is just apples and oranges, in almost every conceivable way.

A bit rich, isn't it? :-)
In the words of Francis Urquhart:

“Loyalty may be good news, but it is rarely good advice.”

More seriously - no, I don't believe it is the same thing at all - if JR's system has existed since whenever without comment, it's because it has no impact on prices and nobody cares. I don't believe JR ever had the ambition the others have. It doesn't make it any better but it's just irrelevant.

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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#152 Post by HenryB »

I think the difference is that JR prices for a little bit of early insight, and as has been said, she's not really a market maker when it comes to pricing.

AG's subscription pricing is clearly around delivering value to retailers/distributors/producers.

Unless I'm too European to fathom spending (personally) $2k a month on a wine subscription for 48 hour early insight.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#153 Post by Tvrtko C. »

Julian Marshall wrote: May 4th, 2021, 2:16 am In the words of Francis Urquhart:

“Loyalty may be good news, but it is rarely good advice.”

More seriously - no, I don't believe it is the same thing at all - if JR's system has existed since whenever without comment, it's because it has no impact on prices and nobody cares. I don't believe JR ever had the ambition the others have. It doesn't make it any better but it's just irrelevant.
That, and almost everything else (culture, style, MO, knowledge...). JR and AG are two entirely different universes, and the overlap is relatively small. Anyone who possesses a reasonable degree of familiarity with JR and her body of work over the decades will easily understand both that and any relevant implications.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#154 Post by J a y H a c k »

M.Kaplan wrote: May 3rd, 2021, 8:08 pm
J a y H a c k wrote: May 3rd, 2021, 7:52 pm I have no patience for debating with amateurs. Pay to play refers to the common business or political corruption in which only people who make a corrupt payment to someone with the ability to provide access or contracts get the benefit of that access or those contracts. We have an entire statutory scheme, the FCPA, designed to deal with the problem. Pay to play does not refer to the fact that things cost money and I have to pay money to join the Admiral's club at the airport or to got to the Met Gala or to join the local country club.
You are intentionally or ignorantly misapplying a statutory definition unique to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Pay to play has been an issue long predating the adoption of the Act in the late 1970’s that has nothing to do with bribery of public officials.

There are better arguments to support your position. Don’t be facile.
I wasn't being facile. I was focusing on the absurd argument that this is pay to play, plus it was late and I wanted to go to bed.

You want an almost perfect analogy? How about real time access to stock quotes? You pay for a subscription, you get immediate access. You don't, you get slower quotes for free. Or perhaps something that the idiot who decided to piss me off by saying I didn't know what I was talking about might understand in his tiny brain ( :) )? Wine Searcher versus Wine Searcher Pro. The free service gives you fewer sources for a particular wine than if you pay for the better service.

I do not subscribe to Vinous, although I admit that I have been considering doing so in the past few months, and I have only met Antonio once or twice, so I have no horse in this race. Oh yeah, that reminds me. The other idiot here who really pissed me off was someone who suggested that I shouldn't comment on Premier Cru (I had been suggesting since back in the E-Bob days that Premier Cru was an obvious Ponzi scheme) because I had no horse in the race. How did that work out?
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#155 Post by YLee »

Getting airline access, hotel, stock quotes, etc isnt the same as someone that has the ability to move the prices. If someone gave you inside stock information is that legal?
Also we are not talking about legality here. The OP was asking an ethical question. Just because someone does something unethical it doesnt mean it is acceptable behavior for everyone to do it
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#156 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

J a y H a c k wrote: May 4th, 2021, 5:00 am
M.Kaplan wrote: May 3rd, 2021, 8:08 pm
J a y H a c k wrote: May 3rd, 2021, 7:52 pm I have no patience for debating with amateurs. Pay to play refers to the common business or political corruption in which only people who make a corrupt payment to someone with the ability to provide access or contracts get the benefit of that access or those contracts. We have an entire statutory scheme, the FCPA, designed to deal with the problem. Pay to play does not refer to the fact that things cost money and I have to pay money to join the Admiral's club at the airport or to got to the Met Gala or to join the local country club.
You are intentionally or ignorantly misapplying a statutory definition unique to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Pay to play has been an issue long predating the adoption of the Act in the late 1970’s that has nothing to do with bribery of public officials.

There are better arguments to support your position. Don’t be facile.
I wasn't being facile. I was focusing on the absurd argument that this is pay to play, plus it was late and I wanted to go to bed.

You want an almost perfect analogy? How about real time access to stock quotes? You pay for a subscription, you get immediate access. You don't, you get slower quotes for free. Or perhaps something that the idiot who decided to piss me off by saying I didn't know what I was talking about might understand in his tiny brain ( :) )? Wine Searcher versus Wine Searcher Pro. The free service gives you fewer sources for a particular wine than if you pay for the better service.

I do not subscribe to Vinous, although I admit that I have been considering doing so in the past few months, and I have only met Antonio once or twice, so I have no horse in this race. Oh yeah, that reminds me. The other idiot here who really pissed me off was someone who suggested that I shouldn't comment on Premier Cru (I had been suggesting since back in the E-Bob days that Premier Cru was an obvious Ponzi scheme) because I had no horse in the race. How did that work out?
I’m actually a bit surprised none of this seems to rankle you? If you were a subscriber, you would be cool with it?
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#157 Post by J a y H a c k »

Robert.A.Jr. wrote: May 4th, 2021, 5:40 am . . .
I’m actually a bit surprised none of this seems to rankle you? If you were a subscriber, you would be cool with it?
I have no problem with it. I fly coach and do not pay for premium seats because I prefer to allocate my money to Saxum, SQN and Scarecrow neener . Other people pay for premium seats. Would anyone have a problem if the pricing for two day faster access was only $100 per year? I doubt it. I have avoided steering this conversation into political territory by suggestion that the predominant philosophy of those who oppose the early access plan is "S*******m for the rich people who collect wine and C********m for the poor," but what Antonio is doing is quintessentially American business economics. I do not think it is fair to impose a higher standard on Vinous than on merchant decision making in general.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#158 Post by J a y H a c k »

YLee wrote: May 4th, 2021, 5:13 am Getting airline access, hotel, stock quotes, etc isnt the same as someone that has the ability to move the prices. If someone gave you inside stock information is that legal?
Also we are not talking about legality here. The OP was asking an ethical question. Just because someone does something unethical it doesnt mean it is acceptable behavior for everyone to do it
There is nothing unethical about the process because it is fully disclosed and it is optional. Not only that, but if it is unethical, isn't it equally unethical for those who subscribe to Vinous to take advantage of information that people who do not subscribe to it at all do not have. Isn't this simply the old joke, "We know what you are, now we are just negotiating over the price."

Your question about insider trading is actually much more interesting and requires some careful thought on the question of whether a bottle of wine is an investment or a consumable; and on whether information about a third party evaluation is nonpublic information deserving of protection; and on the question of whether there is a breach of a fiduciary duty in the early release of the information. Compare this to Regulation FD or the financial publishing cases. That is a better argument for the other side, but I still come down to the fact that everyone has access to the data if they are willing to pay the subscription price. The real problem is that people are objecting to the high price.

AND if anyone approaches this because, to them, a bottle of wine is an investment rather than a consumable, then a pox on your house and you can Kish Mir in Tuchas.
Last edited by J a y H a c k on May 4th, 2021, 6:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#159 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

We can always rely on Jay to divebomb into a thread without any context and post the laziest, most inflammatory and contrarian take on the situation. Throw in a couple of direct insults to other forum members to top it off because everybody knows that when you can’t back up your arguments with facts, invectives are a perfect substitute.

What value do you imagine you are providing to this discussion, Jay? Go back to watching the Mets lose.

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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#160 Post by J a y H a c k »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:39 am We can always rely on Jay to divebomb into a thread without any context and post the laziest, most inflammatory and contrarian take on the situation. Throw in a couple of direct insults to other forum members to top it off because everybody knows that when you can’t back up your arguments with facts, invectives are a perfect substitute.

What value do you imagine you are providing to this discussion, Jay? Go back to watching the Mets lose.
Please carefully read the last four words of my last post.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#161 Post by J a y H a c k »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:39 am We can always rely on Jay to divebomb into a thread without any context and post the laziest, most inflammatory and contrarian take on the situation. Throw in a couple of direct insults to other forum members to top it off because everybody knows that when you can’t back up your arguments with facts, invectives are a perfect substitute.

What value do you imagine you are providing to this discussion, Jay? Go back to watching the Mets lose.
I so much enjoy teaching little children how to read. Oops, that's right, I do not need to teach you how to read my post #139, which was my first post in this thread. You obviously saw that post because you referenced my comment about the Mets. Did you read the earlier part of the same post, in which I provided analysis of why I thought there was no problem with what Antonio did? It was only after someone addressed me directly and said I didn't know what I was talking about that I decided to take people on directly. You, on the other hand, are quite the nuisance and when I have some free time, maybe I will address that issue.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#162 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

J a y H a c k wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:40 am Please carefully read the last four words of my last post.
I think we've found RTPL's true identity everybody! Cryptic insults, "please refer to my post of 5/4 9:34AM", often confused about the topic of discussion. You got us good, Jay!

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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#163 Post by Jonathan Loesberg »

As someone who long ago stopped subscribing to or listening to critics, I think this discussion is somewhat driven off the rails by the very rational interest of those who do. There is pretty obviously nothing illegal with what Galloni is doing. And it is also not anomalous in the industry. I also think those people who say that as long as the practice is open, it's not unethical are right. We can offer analogies and split hairs. The fact of the situation is that Galloni offers a service;he tells you its terms; he asks a price. You either pay it or you don't. He might be affecting price and helping retailers with this new policy, but he isn't doing it without anybody's knowledge. You can always stop subscribing.

This brings up the real issue. Although what he is doing may be legal and ethical, it may materially have changed the value of a subscription. It is thus quite rational to decide that one no longer wants to pay what he asks. I have no idea whether that response would be close enough to correct to make it a good one, but it would not be unreasonable to do so. If enough subscribers feel that way, one expects he would be forced to change his position since the value he offers retailers would so decline that they would not take advantage of it, and he would be forced to go back to his old model. There are times when the market operates in ethically deplorable ways and I am in favor of regulating it. The ups and downs of a wine review subscription policy is not one of them. I think this conversation is really a disguised one about whether Galloni's reviews are still worth the price he asks and it would be a more informative one for those who care if it were carried on at that level, even if all speculation were based on complete ignorance of the relevant facts (since it turns out that the average answer of a large number of speculators turns out to have a surprising accuracy rate).

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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#164 Post by JBrochu »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:39 am We can always rely on Jay to divebomb into a thread without any context and post the laziest, most inflammatory and contrarian take on the situation. Throw in a couple of direct insults to other forum members to top it off because everybody knows that when you can’t back up your arguments with facts, invectives are a perfect substitute.

What value do you imagine you are providing to this discussion, Jay? Go back to watching the Mets lose.
And my response was a sarcastic parody of his first argument, which amounted to "I'm right and you're wrong." Which is some delicious irony considered how he then responded to "people like me" who "argue like that".

Edited to remain respectful of site ownership.
Last edited by JBrochu on May 4th, 2021, 8:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#165 Post by Todd F r e n c h »

Jay and John, and others, please refrain from calling names. Make your arguments, but no need for 'idiot' and *sshole.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#166 Post by YLee »

Suddenly I feel like watching the movie Grumpy Old Men
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#167 Post by Craig G »

Jonathan Loesberg wrote: May 4th, 2021, 7:08 am As someone who long ago stopped subscribing to or listening to critics, I think this discussion is somewhat driven off the rails by the very rational interest of those who do. There is pretty obviously nothing illegal with what Galloni is doing. And it is also not anomalous in the industry. I also think those people who say that as long as the practice is open, it's not unethical are right. We can offer analogies and split hairs. The fact of the situation is that Galloni offers a service;he tells you its terms; he asks a price. You either pay it or you don't. He might be affecting price and helping retailers with this new policy, but he isn't doing it without anybody's knowledge. You can always stop subscribing.
Are the bolded parts correct? My impression was that this offer was originally sent privately to a subset of subscribers and was leaked publicly by a recipient or someone who otherwise had access. Is the service offered to everyone now, and if so what prevents producers whose wines are reviewed from buying it?

In any case I think there is more of an issue here than just transparency. Normally when we are concerned about conflicts of interest, we don’t work too hard to parse whether or not the person in question will act on the conflict of interest. We just demand that they not have the conflict of interest at all. Galloni acting as an impartial critic (and even claiming to be working for the consumer) while offering this premium service to the trade is an obvious conflict of interest. Individuals are welcome to trust him, but nobody should be acting like this is a normal, acceptable practice. If he changes his messaging and says that he reviews wines for the trade and also offers a lower priced service to individuals, then the interest is explicit and there’s no conflict.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#168 Post by M.Kaplan »

What Craig wrote. Vinous should also amend the following from its Core Values statement:
Independence
From the beginning of my professional writing and tasting career I have valued editorial independence above all else.
Vinous has no commercial ties, direct or indirect, to any part of the wine trade[1]. We pay all of our expenses and do not accept sponsored trips or accommodation of any kind, a policy we have maintained since the creation of Piedmont Report in 2003. Occasionally we will share a working lunch or dinner with a winemaker if doing so helps save time during the day, something that can be an issue in places where wineries are separated by considerable distance. In those rare instances we insist on absolute simplicity.

[1] Marzia’s uncle owns a vineyard in Friuli that I review because it is a benchmark estate for the region. Full disclosure is always attached to reviews. Readers can decide for themselves if those reviews are helpful or not.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#169 Post by J a y H a c k »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: May 4th, 2021, 7:02 am
J a y H a c k wrote: May 4th, 2021, 6:40 am Please carefully read the last four words of my last post.
I think we've found RTPL's true identity everybody! Cryptic insults, "please refer to my post of 5/4 9:34AM", often confused about the topic of discussion. You got us good, Jay!
When you actually make a useful contribution to this BB, I will take you off ignore, but until then, Bye!
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#170 Post by J a y H a c k »

Todd F r e n c h wrote: May 4th, 2021, 7:56 am Jay and John, and others, please refrain from calling names. Make your arguments, but no need for 'idiot' and *sshole.
I have responded to you in private, but let's just say that there are too many people on this BB who throw stones and then whine like babies to Daddy when they get spanked. I am proud to say that in all of my almost 12 years on this BB, I have never reported a post. I suggest that in addition to Has Thanked and Been Thanked, you add a third item for "Has Reported Someone," just to let everyone know who the gutless little children are.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#171 Post by Mark Golodetz »

Back to topic.
Since there is literally no oversight, legal requirements etc, what is to stop someone with an important newsletter rewarding his contributors with higher scores? It is obviously taking this to the absurd but at the same time apart from destroying long term trust, the short term rewards might be worthwhile to the unscrupulous. Not that I am not for a moment suggesting that Galloni would do this but I am pointing out there are no checks to stop him.

In the end, without regulation, we have the only the word of the owner and an expectation of even handed integrity. This shenanigan makes me question that.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#172 Post by Brad England »

Jay, thank you for your posts. I wouldn't have been able to articulate it nearly as well, but you succinctly state what I've been thinking while reading this thread. Again, thank you.
Edited to add that I am a subscriber.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#173 Post by M. Meer »

I'll play along:

- Galloni is a finance guy. This is about diversifying revenue streams beyond the traditional subscriber base and directing it more to the trade. Who better to foot the bill? After all, they more directly benefit economically from wine criticism and are able to sustain more than a casual enthusiast (or 300) ever could. I don't think there is any more of a conflict of interest here than one might generally perceive already (I'm looking at you free samples, trips, and wine dinners). An unstated role of the reviewer has always been to help move wine, regardless of who footed the bill. Vinous could conceivably collude with a producer due to added financial pressure*. Nothing has ever stopped them from doing it previously though.

- I suppose a well-heeled individual or trophy-hunting cabal could pony up a couple grand as needed and vacuum up all our wine. Though, I think we could all name those 20-30 wines without having to sacrifice a 6-pack of DRC.

- I might be upset if I was an average Joe investing in wine indices -- as much as an average Joe making a couple hundred thousand a year and up might be. See #2 though.

*Here's where $24,000 a year amounts to little. I would hope VM would tell anyone being untoward to take a hike and refuse to sell out for a couple grand a month. As a consumer, I would watch out for score inflation, but I think it would have a negative effect with too many 97+ reviews over-saturating the market, making reviews less meaningful and nullify the necessity of paying someone $2,000 a month.

Got a few more thoughts on the retail aspect, which I might post later on. Kid is giving me the side eye.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#174 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

M.Kaplan wrote: May 4th, 2021, 9:22 am What Craig wrote. Vinous should also amend the following from its Core Values statement:
Independence
From the beginning of my professional writing and tasting career I have valued editorial independence above all else.
Vinous has no commercial ties, direct or indirect, to any part of the wine trade[1]. We pay all of our expenses and do not accept sponsored trips or accommodation of any kind, a policy we have maintained since the creation of Piedmont Report in 2003. Occasionally we will share a working lunch or dinner with a winemaker if doing so helps save time during the day, something that can be an issue in places where wineries are separated by considerable distance. In those rare instances we insist on absolute simplicity.

[1] Marzia’s uncle owns a vineyard in Friuli that I review because it is a benchmark estate for the region. Full disclosure is always attached to reviews. Readers can decide for themselves if those reviews are helpful or not.
To steal a Gallonism, that are on about 1/3 of his notes, "that's all there is to it".

Again, so glad you linked this Mission Statement. There is no other way to explain what is a complete paradigm shift to his business, whose so-called value was created off the subscriptions of users that trusted his independence. He no longer values "editorial independence". He now has direct commercial ties to the wine trade. Does he really still "pay all of our expenses" - seemingly not, anymore. And with the "bespoke options available," who knows what else he does or what other mission statement he walks back.

Totally his right to do anything he wants with his business, but this is a fundamental change, and one that places him not only at odds with this mission statement, but also creates a palpable conflict of interest. I would have expected Jay to understand that one (said in jocular sarcasm). One can decide to overlook these things, or choose not to care, but to conclude that AG is not violating the trust and confidence of his subscribers, and not violating his own core business philosophy, is not intellectually honest.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#175 Post by Jonathan Loesberg »

Effectively controverted by my ignorance of fact. If he didn't announce this but was found out, it is somewhat wrong, but alleviated. In the light of his web page, it is completely wrong and he should change that statement as, at the least, it is factually incorrect. I am less sure how strictly it is a conflict of interest with regard to the state of the reviews. It is against his interest not to write reliable reviews as it would reduce his subscription base and the value of his service to retailers, most of which don't get value out of high reviews of specific wines. But it is certainly a change in for whom the reviews are written and whom they serve. So, I'll now stand with what John Maynard Keynes is reputed to have said: When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?

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#176 Post by John Morris »

496 posts (and counting) in the other thread, and the vote is only 58%-42% against?
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#177 Post by John Morris »

Jonathan Loesberg wrote: May 4th, 2021, 11:29 am ... It is against his interest not to write reliable reviews as it would reduce his subscription base and the value of his service to retailers, most of which don't get value out of high reviews of specific wines. ...
I'm not sure you're correct. Retailers love to use 90+ scores regardless of the reliability of the source.
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#178 Post by Anton D »

Is it right for wineries to get rated on barrel tastings for critics before they even bottle the wine?

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#179 Post by Neal.Mollen »

Mark Golodetz wrote: May 4th, 2021, 10:18 am Back to topic.
Since there is literally no oversight, legal requirements etc, what is to stop someone with an important newsletter rewarding his contributors with higher scores? It is obviously taking this to the absurd but at the same time apart from destroying long term trust, the short term rewards might be worthwhile to the unscrupulous. Not that I am not for a moment suggesting that Galloni would do this but I am pointing out there are no checks to stop him.

In the end, without regulation, we have the only the word of the owner and an expectation of even handed integrity. This shenanigan makes me question that.
That would quite obviously be a corrupt business practice. So far as I know, no one is alleging that has occurred. It is an omnipresent risk in Vinous' line of work of course
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#180 Post by Jürgen Steinke »

Galloni thought this to the end. It is clear for a long time that the scores are no advantage to the consumer but to the producer and trade. The next move of Galloni to maximize the profit of his company is logic from a business standpoint. I help you to sell wine so pay me. But it is a deep hit for the subscribers who helped to found his enterprise. I have little understanding for subscribers who defend him. Are you fine to pay a premium for your wine to feed Galloni? Are you cows ready to milk?

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#181 Post by crickey »

Robert.A.Jr. wrote: May 4th, 2021, 10:43 am
M.Kaplan wrote: May 4th, 2021, 9:22 am What Craig wrote. Vinous should also amend the following from its Core Values statement:
Independence
From the beginning of my professional writing and tasting career I have valued editorial independence above all else.
Vinous has no commercial ties, direct or indirect, to any part of the wine trade[1]. We pay all of our expenses and do not accept sponsored trips or accommodation of any kind, a policy we have maintained since the creation of Piedmont Report in 2003. Occasionally we will share a working lunch or dinner with a winemaker if doing so helps save time during the day, something that can be an issue in places where wineries are separated by considerable distance. In those rare instances we insist on absolute simplicity.

[1] Marzia’s uncle owns a vineyard in Friuli that I review because it is a benchmark estate for the region. Full disclosure is always attached to reviews. Readers can decide for themselves if those reviews are helpful or not.
To steal a Gallonism, that are on about 1/3 of his notes, "that's all there is to it".

Again, so glad you linked this Mission Statement. There is no other way to explain what is a complete paradigm shift to his business, whose so-called value was created off the subscriptions of users that trusted his independence. He no longer values "editorial independence". He now has direct commercial ties to the wine trade. Does he really still "pay all of our expenses" - seemingly not, anymore. And with the "bespoke options available," who knows what else he does or what other mission statement he walks back.

Totally his right to do anything he wants with his business, but this is a fundamental change, and one that places him not only at odds with this mission statement, but also creates a palpable conflict of interest. I would have expected Jay to understand that one (said in jocular sarcasm). One can decide to overlook these things, or choose not to care, but to conclude that AG is not violating the trust and confidence of his subscribers, and not violating his own core business philosophy, is not intellectually honest.
I'm sorry, but this is utter silliness. Nothing about this new service changes anything in terms of the quoted language vs. what he already does, indeed, what all of the big publications do. He already sells subscriptions to people in the wine business, and for a higher price (I assume) since they get the right to reproduce the scores and reviews. If selling subscriptions to people in the wine trade amounts to a "commercial tie," then, yes, the statement is not factually correct, but it never was, not from day 1.

I've always assumed that the samples they taste are free, which would be a counterexample of not paying all of the business' expenses, but I may be wrong.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#182 Post by R Scott Hughes »

John Morris wrote: May 4th, 2021, 11:36 am
Jonathan Loesberg wrote: May 4th, 2021, 11:29 am ... It is against his interest not to write reliable reviews as it would reduce his subscription base and the value of his service to retailers, most of which don't get value out of high reviews of specific wines. ...
I'm not sure you're correct. Retailers love to use 90+ scores regardless of the reliability of the source.
While I am generally in Jonathan L's camp, this is an interesting point - clearly the wine nerds on this board that do pay attention to scores will certainly weight scores from different sources based on the reviewer's track record. It is a fair question to ask: Can AG still move the price for wines if he starts inflating his scores across the board? I have generally viewed this from the perspective of the knowledgeable wine buyer who would quickly see the score inflation and discount accordingly. But the broader wine buying market is certainly less discerning with respect to the source of the score.

Is this service of greater value to the distributors on premium wines (> $30-$40) or does this move the needle enough on the sub-$20 market to make it pencil out. If it is the premium category, then maintaining his reputation will indeed matter, not so much for the mass market.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#183 Post by C. Mc Cart »

Jürgen Steinke wrote: May 4th, 2021, 12:55 pm Galloni thought this to the end. It is clear for a long time that the scores are no advantage to the consumer but to the producer and trade. The next move of Galloni to maximize the profit of his company is logic from a business standpoint. I help you to sell wine so pay me. But it is a deep hit for the subscribers who helped to found his enterprise. I have little understanding for subscribers who defend him. Are you fine to pay a premium for your wine to feed Galloni? Are you cows ready to milk?
I wonder how many of his defenders here are subscribers?

That brings up other questions. How many of the detractors here are subscribers? How many aren't subscribers but just worry their access to xyz Cali or Bordeaux trophy will be affected? How many (a few are plain to see) just have an axe that needs some grinding. [wink.gif]
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#184 Post by Craig G »

crickey wrote: May 4th, 2021, 1:18 pmI'm sorry, but this is utter silliness. Nothing about this new service changes anything in terms of the quoted language vs. what he already does, indeed, what all of the big publications do. He already sells subscriptions to people in the wine business, and for a higher price (I assume) since they get the right to reproduce the scores and reviews. If selling subscriptions to people in the wine trade amounts to a "commercial tie," then, yes, the statement is not factually correct, but it never was, not from day 1.
The reason the statement was okay previously is that a member of the trade had essentially the same standing as anyone else. The numbers matter: $24k is a lot compared to $100. It’s the same reason that if I go to a trade show, I can accept a sleeve of golf balls from a customer but I can’t accept a vacation.
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#185 Post by John Morris »

R Scott Hughes wrote: May 4th, 2021, 1:32 pm ... It is a fair question to ask: Can AG still move the price for wines if he starts inflating his scores across the board? I have generally viewed this from the perspective of the knowledgeable wine buyer who would quickly see the score inflation and discount accordingly. ...
Starts?!
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#186 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

C. Mc Cart wrote: May 4th, 2021, 1:38 pm
Jürgen Steinke wrote: May 4th, 2021, 12:55 pm Galloni thought this to the end. It is clear for a long time that the scores are no advantage to the consumer but to the producer and trade. The next move of Galloni to maximize the profit of his company is logic from a business standpoint. I help you to sell wine so pay me. But it is a deep hit for the subscribers who helped to found his enterprise. I have little understanding for subscribers who defend him. Are you fine to pay a premium for your wine to feed Galloni? Are you cows ready to milk?
I wonder how many of his defenders here are subscribers?

That brings up other questions. How many of the detractors here are subscribers? How many aren't subscribers but just worry their access to xyz Cali or Bordeaux trophy will be affected? How many (a few are plain to see) just have an axe that needs some grinding. [wink.gif]
I’m none of the above. Just wanted to play in the sandbox with all the cool cats. Oh, and assert my moral superiority and business-legal acumen like Hack.

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#187 Post by CraigT »

Just a little update. To those who don’t think Vinous moves markets. K&L wine in Bay Area is now offering Palmer 2018 for an eye watering $600 a bottle from $350 a bottle prior 0ffering. deadhorse
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#188 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

CraigT wrote: May 4th, 2021, 2:53 pm Just a little update. To those who don’t think Vinous moves markets. K&L wine in Bay Area is now offering Palmer 2018 for an eye watering $600 a bottle from $350 a bottle prior 0ffering. deadhorse
They have the 100k/month “custom bespoke” option?

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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#189 Post by Arv R »

Brad England wrote: May 4th, 2021, 10:30 am Jay, thank you for your posts. I wouldn't have been able to articulate it nearly as well, but you succinctly state what I've been thinking while reading this thread. Again, thank you.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#190 Post by crickey »

Craig G wrote: May 4th, 2021, 1:41 pm
crickey wrote: May 4th, 2021, 1:18 pmI'm sorry, but this is utter silliness. Nothing about this new service changes anything in terms of the quoted language vs. what he already does, indeed, what all of the big publications do. He already sells subscriptions to people in the wine business, and for a higher price (I assume) since they get the right to reproduce the scores and reviews. If selling subscriptions to people in the wine trade amounts to a "commercial tie," then, yes, the statement is not factually correct, but it never was, not from day 1.
The reason the statement was okay previously is that a member of the trade had essentially the same standing as anyone else. The numbers matter: $24k is a lot compared to $100. It’s the same reason that if I go to a trade show, I can accept a sleeve of golf balls from a customer but I can’t accept a vacation.
That's not true. Retailers and others in the trade have a subscription that allows them to reproduce scores and reviews; I do not. I expect they pay more for that right than my subscription cost because it is valuable to their business, which is selling wine. Shelf-talkers are just another means for charging retailers for the right to reproduce scores. Not the same standing; they have more rights than I do.

Now he wants to offer another right, the right to see the reviews before they are published, and for that he will charge a certain amount. In terms of "commercial ties," it's really the same thing as what he does now.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#191 Post by crickey »

Hypothetical: If any of us normal folk called up Vinous and said, I want that early preview option, I'm willing to pay $2,000/month, here's my credit card number, does anyone really think Vinous would turn us down? If this preview right were offered for $200/year as an add-on to the annual subscription, would it raise any of the same issues?
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#192 Post by Craig G »

crickey wrote: May 4th, 2021, 3:21 pm Hypothetical: If any of us normal folk called up Vinous and said, I want that early preview option, I'm willing to pay $2,000/month, here's my credit card number, does anyone really think Vinous would turn us down? If this preview right were offered for $200/year as an add-on to the annual subscription, would it raise any of the same issues?
No, I don’t think it would. As others pointed out, Jancis offers that option for about that price. It’s still in a reasonable range for a serious wine consumer so it keeps everyone on the same footing.

I don’t know what Galloni charges for the right to republish but I expect it’s far less than this new option (JR’s option is £180 vs. £85, I believe). The $24k shifts the business focus squarely to the trade. That’s why people care.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#193 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

Craig G wrote: May 4th, 2021, 3:30 pm
crickey wrote: May 4th, 2021, 3:21 pm Hypothetical: If any of us normal folk called up Vinous and said, I want that early preview option, I'm willing to pay $2,000/month, here's my credit card number, does anyone really think Vinous would turn us down? If this preview right were offered for $200/year as an add-on to the annual subscription, would it raise any of the same issues?
No, I don’t think it would. As others pointed out, Jancis offers that option for about that price. It’s still in a reasonable range for a serious wine consumer so it keeps everyone on the same footing.

I don’t know what Galloni charges for the right to republish but I expect it’s far less than this new option (JR’s option is £180 vs. £85, I believe). The $24k shifts the business focus squarely to the trade. That’s why people care.
Exactly.

Stays on the consumer side. While some can criticize that it favors the more wealthy, the spenders, it doesn’t flip to the trade and doesn’t play both sides against the other.

PS. I’m normal folk, but not Craig. He’s special.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#194 Post by Ed Steinway »

I am late to this thread, and think that Mr. Galloni has a right to run his business his way, just as all of us have a right to decide if paying for a subscription is warranted. I am not currently a subscriber, FWIW, but think that he and his staff are very good writers/reviewers. A couple of thoughts, if they have not been mentioned already.

Doesn't the Wine Spectator do something similar, albeit on a smaller scale, with their Insider Weekly Newsletter?
In my opinion, giving a winery the ability to pay to have wines reviewed outside of the Editorial Calendar may lead to a 'perception' to some that a rating for those wines is not completely objective, since there is an additional cost to review. A winery will probably not be happy to pay extra money for an 87-point review, for example.

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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#195 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

For the Nth time, the question was not “is it legal”, it was “is it right”. Just because something is legal doesn’t mean that it is right. If Roger Ebert sold his reviews to movie studios far in advance of opening day so they could set ticket prices accordingly, we might say that is legal but perhaps not ethically right. The “it’s his business, let him do what he wants, you don’t have to subscribe” argument completely ignores the question that was posed.

I also think that the whataboutism appealing to what other wine critics do is not particularly relevant. We already know that the state of ethics in wine criticism is generally pretty abysmal. Is it not feasible to consider this particular case in isolation?

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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#196 Post by CraigT »

Just thought everybody should know over on Vinous’s chat page “Your say” Antonio has been replying to many people’s comments after initially erasing a couple of threads. He indicated he erased the threads for his own mental health. He also is defending his position and doesn’t seem to get it that it’s not really morally right to do what he is doing. He doesn’t seem to understand the conflict of interest. pileon pileon
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#197 Post by Jim Brennan »

It's not a moral issue. It's a business ethics issue. The Vinous core values specifically call out independence from the trade in ways that align with a consumer advocacy position (even if he never called himself a consumer advocate). Vinous can't claim this as a core value and then offer "special" subscriptions that provides perks for the trade that advantage them over consumers (and let's not even touch on the other items, or the opaque "custom bespoke options"). These "values" need to be revised because they no longer align with their business practices.

That doesn't mean, of course, that consumers won't abandon the publication even if he modifies the core values statement, but at least that would tidy up the issues noted above.

I'm not a subscriber, but if I were, I'd not only cancel my subscription, but I'd DEMAND the remainder of my subscription prorated back to me. And, frankly, I think every unhappy consumer subscriber should demand the same. Why? Because while you're waiting for your current subscription to run out, Vinous is able to use current subscriber counts to back up whatever promotional work he's doing to drive engagement from the trade.

Finally, I don't think I could trust Vinous even if they reversed course at this point. Galloni and the other founders / leadership weren't transparent about this and frankly, as a consumer, I'd say that they betrayed my trust. I feel bad for members of their staff caught up in this mess, but that's business too.

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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#198 Post by HenryB »

aye, lucky/unlucky (dependingo n your view) that this leaked.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#199 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Scott Brunson wrote: May 1st, 2021, 6:49 am
Robert.A.Jr. wrote: May 1st, 2021, 6:16 am Yea I posit again that the framing of the question really skews the issue at hand. Most of us free market people will never say it is “wrong” with what he or anyone does with their business, so long as it is legal. The question is whether him doing this compromises the (perhaps naively-anointed) credibility and integrity that many of us want from critics on any subject. To me this is an inherent conflict of interest, making him more and more of a shill for the industry rather than a source for consumers for credible information. While I do not subscribe, if I did, I would immediately be out. He sold out.
This
Yep. This is my view, too. (I did not vote in the poll)

Literally overnight I have gone from trusting the genuineness of Vinous reviews to not. As I've done any retail wine shopping over the past week, while browsing and reading reviews, I've noticed myself completely skipping-over Vinous reviews ---- not reading and discounting; rather, not reading one word of them.

Perhaps nothing material has changed, and this really is just an Oz-man-behind-the-curtain moment, but even that can have severe ramifications. Vinous reviews now mean *nothing* to me, as an end consumer, and I have to believe that's not the kind of market reception those $2k/mo. subscribers prefer.

***

Any way you slice it, the new $2k/mo. subscription level *is* designed to extract more money from the end-consumer.
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Re: Is it right for Antonio Galloni to give early access to scores to those who pay $2000/month?

#200 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m »

Peter Chiu wrote: May 2nd, 2021, 5:03 am After many thoughts, I finally decided to vote yes. I am not a subscriber but if I could read it free, just for fun so why not !

I voted yes for the following : (1) most on this board will agree with me that Antonio is within his right to do it legally.. This is undeniable fact. (2) For the people who voted no. I do not know why. Is is possible ....they are point-chasers ? or perhaps....they fell good ( or have better feeling for themselves ) if they were drinking 98-99 points wines at a lower prince then the other fellows who were not ? In a way, perhaps they are the persons, more or less, causing Antonio to change his business practice ?

Here is what Taoism said at the beginning of Charter Two : Under Heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness. All can know good as good only there is evil . Therefore having and not having arise together, etc, etc. Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing... !

Then the Tao ...continues ...in Charter Three : Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling. Not collecting treasures prevents stealing. Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.....

That being posted here, it does not mean that as a wine lovers ( like me Peter the Chiu )...should always try to be a Sage. But reading it, and re-reading it ...prevents me getting confusion and also preventing me for thinking and chasing DRC and Rousseau.
You might enjoy the works of Swiss linguist, Ferdinand de Saussure. Definitely worth a read, and some of it is very much in the vein of what you posted here.
“All these characters spend their time explaining themselves, and happily recognizing that they hold the same opinions … how important they consider it to think the same things all together.” --- A.R.

CT: grafstrb

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