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A New Web Venture for Antonio Galloni

(New York) – Antonio Galloni, a leading wine reviewer for Robert M. Parker Jr.’s The Wine Advocate, one of the world’s most influential wine guides, will depart the publication to start his own wine enterprise, which he said would begin to roll out on the Internet in March.

In an interview Tuesday, Galloni, 42, said his new Web site, antoniogalloni.com, would be aimed at younger wine consumers, using new technologies and different forms of media than The Wine Advocate, which, though it has a solid Web presence, still retains the flavor of print media.

“My motivation has always been, how do you bring people closer to wine, how do you make stories tangible?’’ he said. “I want to use multimedia to bring those wines off the page directly to an audience. I think there’s a huge opportunity to engage people through media and technology. What’s difficult about wine is how complex a subject it is, and with technology, you can reach people in a great variety of ways.’’

The Wine Advocate, with Parker at the helm, has been one of the most powerful voices in wine for almost 30 years. But in the last decade, Parker has been delegating more and more reviewing authority to other critics. In 2006, he hired Galloni, who since 2004 had published his own wine publication, The Piedmont Report. At first, Galloni covered only Italy, but more recently took on Burgundy, Champagne and California as well.

In December, Parker sold a stake in The Advocate to a Singapore investor and announced that he was stepping down as editor in chief in favor of another Advocate reviewer, Lisa Perotti-Brown, who would be based in Singapore.

Galloni said that he had been considering the move for several years but that it began to crystallize last June, when, at the Food and Wine Classic held in Aspen, Colo., he ate at a wine-oriented restaurant and was struck by how few people were drinking wine. It occurred to him that consumers were simply overwhelmed by the number of wine choices.

“It was so stark, you should have seen people with great wines, and instead you saw them deferring to beer,’’ he recalled. “I have this vision of going to a restaurant and seeing a bottle of wine on every table. Everything I want to do is centered on how do I make that happen, how can I help people make these choices.’’

He said his new venture would try to approach wine differently than The Advocate, which is based on the print model of issuing thousands of wine reviews every other month.

“I want to disseminate information in a continual flow rather than in big, massive articles that are too massive for people to digest,’’ he said.

Galloni said the recent sale of The Advocate had also played a role in his decision. When he was hired by Parker, he said, it was with the understanding that he would operate independently under the rubric of The Advocate, an arrangement he said worked perfectly with Parker as editor in chief.

“It’s obviously clear that was going to change,’’ Galloni said. “I talked to Lisa, and it was clear that the best way for me to guarantee the highest level of independence and quality was to run my own business.’’

Galloni said he was still in the process of putting together a team of investors for his venture, which he said would rest on a foundation of wine reviews but would also employ video and Internet technology to reach more people. He said that he retained the rights to his work at The Advocate, giving new subscribers access to it, and that his coverage would expand beyond Italy, Burgundy, Champagne and California as he added staff members.

SOURCE: New York Times

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