Influential U.S. wine critic Robert M. Parker has been ordered to stand trial in France next month for allegedly defaming a former assistant, a judicial official said Friday.
The case centers on former assistant Hanna Agostini who co-authored a book in France with a title that translates as “Robert Parker: Anatomy of a Myth.”
Agostini herself faces preliminary charges in Bordeaux involving alleged forgery in a wine-trafficking affair centering on Belgian wine trader Geens. She denies the allegations.
The judicial official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said that Parker was ordered last month to stand trial on July 10 for writing on his Internet site that Agostini “could end up stagnating in prison,” and for allegedly misrepresenting the penalties that she faces in that case.
The comment from Parker is no longer on the Web site.
A Paris investigating judge filed preliminary charges against Parker in September after Agostini brought a lawsuit against him alleging defamation.
At that time, Parker's lawyer said the critic declined comment about the case. In March 2008, he was fined euro2,000 by a Paris court on a separate count of violating Agostini's presumption of innocence.
“Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide” is a well-known reference book and his recommendations can make or break winemakers.
His publication, the Wine Advocate, assigns scores of up to 100 points to the wines it samples. He has been called the most powerful critic in the world.