Robert Parker, a name that has caused friction in the wine world has retired.
Parker love him or hate him revolutionised fine wine, no one has influenced the way wine was made like he did, and though many Bordelais are rolling back on the full throttle style he invoked it did none the less challenge the thinking on how those wines would go forward, yes his quotes, points also influenced the style such was his influence that virtually no Chateau could say no.
What is often lost in the ongoing controversy over his points system since copied by nearly all critics and his power over the style of wines produced, he was no promoter of feeble ‘slight’ wines, was that he also championed those lesser lights he came across that he felt should have more exposure in the world of wine.
Southern Rhone, his own favorite wines at home, must be eternally grateful for his support, an area with not that much world impact is now on full song, largely because of him.
Leaving out his obvious leanings his books are well worth studying especially his one on the Rhone, “Wines of the Rhone Valley” and the huge input to his “Parkers Wine Buyers Guide”.
Regardless of anyone s individual take on the man, he will be missed
There is a further link to this DB article on Parker from 2015.
Robert Parker, a name that has caused friction in the wine world has retired.
This very long read, linked by Jamie Goode this morning, was published in 2000 and possibly all the more interesting because of the date. It provides insights into the Bordeaux wine trade and Parker’s influence on it.
I saw this last night, end of an era. Clearly his monolithic influence was over a little while ago but he was a force for good for us winos I think. It’s easy for people to criticise him now but from reading his bio a year or so ago, he had very sound ambitions: objective wine reviews and helping people who didn’t have all the money to try wines which he considered to be great. Not everyone has the Parker taste but if you do then he is a good guide.
No one can deny he changed the wine world. He made the fortunes of many a chateau / Domaine and introduced a lot more people to wine. The ‘Parker 100 points’ is still something that gets banded around when ‘perfect’ wines are sold and ensures a high price is paid.
Happy retirement - get drinking your cellar full of super extracted Bordeaux and Rhône!!
And yet, Wineadvocate continues without Parker - so the damage continues. P-Points for over-extraction & new oak, winemaking Californian style. Whatever happended to Clairet? (Claret in English) - the LIGHT red wines which Bordeaux was once famous for?
Read Jancis Robinson.
Ah yes, the famous war of Pavie '03!
I think I would want to take a more measured view of things. RP has undoubtedly had a major impact on the world of wine. He has been hard-working, and has published tasting notes on a stunningly wide range of wines. All this is beyond dispute.
But because of the awe in which his views came to be held, I think it would be fairer to look at the extent to which his views had either positive or negative impacts.
I think his first love was the S. Rhone. From all that happened subsequently, I think it fair to say that there was a good match between his palate and what works well for the wines of the southern Rhone. Sure, there have been numerous super-cuvées appearing at eye-watering prices and levels of extract, but you don’t have to buy them. For the most part, the originals are still there.
Where I feel one has to raise an eyebrow or three is at what has happened elsewhere. To be honest, he is at a loss to know what to say about red burgundy - I don’t think he has made a lot of sense here for a while, and to be fair he handed the job of reviewing these wines to others.
Fair enough. But rather more questionable has been what has happened to clarets, and similarly to Californian reds. Because of his love for bigger, more alcoholic wines, and the whole investment thing that hitched their waggon onto his scoring system, it’s impossible to argue that he hasn’t had an impact on wines from these areas.
Of course, if you like big, alcoholic wines, then it’s all good. But for the rest of us, not so much. The one thing I cannot agree with is that he somehow single-handedly raised the whole standard of winemaking as a result of his criticism. For a start, the whole science of oenology was just moving into top gear as he started publishing - you could argue that the two moved in symbiotic fashion, but not that he caused it all!
Perhaps a word on that scoring system may not come amiss either. Ignoring for a moment its more farcical aspects (starts at 50 only, now has become effectively a 10-point scale, etc. etc.), it has now become the sole selling pitch of the “fine-wine” barker. Every day sees my inbox flooded with offers, every single one of them sporting some RP score in the upper nineties. And we all know about the burgeoning of the fine wine investment scams.
That’s enough for now. I really only want to point out that the blessings are mixed, and that’s not necessarily RP’s fault. One thing I do reject, though, is the implicit assumption of the universal palate. There is no disgrace in disagreements - we genuinely do have different palates to a degree at least. A far more intelligent way of handling wine critics’ writings is surely to stick around long enough to be able to calibrate their taste against yours. Then you can profitably benefit from their writings on areas where you agree, and ignore all the rest.
[quote=“Ghost-of-Mr-Tallis, post:5, topic:5386”]
"The one thing I cannot agree with is that he somehow single-handedly raised the whole standard of winemaking as a result of his criticism. For a start, the whole science of oenology was just moving into top gear as he started publishing - you could argue that the two moved in symbiotic fashion, but not that he caused it all! "
Could not agree more, the same could be said for the influence that Australian wine making had on our everyday drinking, those awful badly made fruitless French and others wines, were consigned to the dustbin of history because of the Australian effect, at one time the “flying wine maker” was everywhere in the old world.
It could be said they were responsible for the full blown style that those Shiraz and Chardonnay for example displayed, you may not have liked them all, but they were certainly an improvement in wine making on what had been largely available before and caused a seismic shift in French wine making techniques, though they would be loath to admit it.
The chemist the oenologist the agronomist are all part of wine making now at all levels.
If it had not been for R.P. I would never have tried Savennières - which is difficult enough to find in anyway. So I will credit him for that.
Confession time. I followed RP’s leads very closely. It may be hard for those not having lived through the times when his influence was at its strongest to appreciate just what a breath of fresh air he seemed to be at the time. It is I think unarguable that he had a very specific set of stylistic preferences and I think that he seemed to exaggerate those as he became more revered. He also did himself no favours by being confrontational at times with those he did not share the same preferences. He was responsible for some of the change in direction that happened in some wine regions, as mentioned above Bordeaux probably most of all (California wine were already prone to exhibit his stylistic preferences). However those who did not follow his model slavishly, but who did pay attention to properly ripening fruit and clean winemaking, undoubtedly made better wines. Some were guilty of over-following and made wines not showing much truth of origin. Overall I think the wine world would be a poorer place today without his influence.
Like many I moved on in my wine journey and started to look at many more sources and started to trust my own prejudices (hard won by years of practice).