Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Mark Squires’ Bulletin Board now available only to subscribers

At the end of last month Mark Squires' Bulletin Board officially closed its doors to all but those who subscribe to This was met with various pronouncements and opinions on wine blogs like Vinography and Jamie Goode’s blog as well as other wine forums.

Like many I have been subject to the castigation by the all knowledgeable Mr. Squires; in the area of genetics which I am sure Mr Squires, a lawyer, is all knowing and all seeing while I, a PhD in Medicine, obviously know very little, even if I do have peer reviewed publications in the area. I have not posted on the MS Bulletin Board since although I did often visit the site, mostly to read posts on the Social Hall forum. As a paid-up subscriber of I will be able to continue to drop in to see how things are progressing and whether the pronouncements of others about the future of the bulletin board come to pass.

My own thoughts are that when the eBob forums were free they served as a highly visible format for those with a serious interest in wine and a vehicle to introduce When Robert Parker expanded his staff to include folks like Antonio Galloni, Neal Martin and others you needed an eBob subscription to access their forums. At that point the writing was on the wall. Through The Wine Advocate Robert Parker has made it clear that the content he generates is not free. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as its how Parker and his staff derive income. Whether the closing of the bulletin board to the public is the result of significant questions that have been raised about the ethics at The Wine Advocate we will almost certainly never know. My own feeing is that the subscriber base has grown to such a level that its now feasible to make the bulletin board a pay-to-play venue.

So where do you go if you have an interest in wine but don’t fancy being an eBob subscriber? There are numerous other wine forums, some of which have been mentioned at Vinography and by Jamie Goode. My contribution is to provide a couple of links to forums that specialize in Australian wines. Both are run by wine etailers in Australia but don’t let that stop you signing up as there are no hard sales pitches. The AusWine Forum is more focused on Aussie wines than the Star Forum which has a more international flavor. Although both have their own clique of posters there is cross fertilization and more to the point very few Mark Squires! Plus the posters on both sites have considerably more knowledge of the local product than among eBob members (who unfortunately were limited in their exposure by Parker’s view of what Australian wine should be).

Wine By The Numbers

Its no secret to anyone who reads this (infrequent) blog that I am no fan of the anti-high alcohol league. The league is those individuals, like Randy Dunn, Darrell Corti, Elin McCoy, and Dan Berger, who rant and rave against wines with alcohol levels above 14% and their supposed lack of balance, and over-ripe, prune-laden character. Well it seems that their opinions have caught on with some as this article by Lettie Teague in The Wall Street Journal notes. Now I will confess that I am not a big fan of richly flavored Pinot Noir wines that don’t express their varietal character all that well. Some of these have alcohols above 14% and while I struggle to appreciate them as wines that I can identify by grape variety that does not mean that they are not tasty examples of the winemaker’s art. But it would be pure folly on my part to advocate that Pinot Noir with more than 14% alcohol not be made. It would also be very petty of me to state that such wines won’t find a place in my cellar. I’d be even more suspect if I was to use federal labeling laws, which dictate that 14% alcohol and below is table wine, to justify my position. But the real evidence of my foolishness would be for me to apply my 14% rule only as I saw fit. Then I would be showing my true biases and I am sure I would be called a wine snob.

And so to conclude this post we can now add Rajat Parr, wine director of the San Francisco-based Michael Mina restaurant group, to the list of the anti-high alcohol league members. Wine snobs, one and all.