Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

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John Morris
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Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#1 Post by John Morris » June 30th, 2020, 3:05 pm

I'm surprised no one has posted on the long piece Decanter posted yesterday by Andrew Jefford -- part interview, part profile -- on Parker. The magazine is inducting him into its hall of fame (a little late, I'd say).

There is little new to those who have followed Parker's career, but it's still worth a read. It's interesting that Jefford leads with a rather long litany of the sins of which Parker has been accused. That's a big odd given that he's being commended for his contributions to wine.

It was also interesting to read Parker saying that he sees now that he didn't appreciate some aspects of Burgundy (which Burgundy lovers could have told you):
His only regret, he says, concerns Burgundy. ‘I’ve never been that much in love with Pinot Noir, even though that sounds like heresy to many wine lovers. I do think, if there was one category I never really could fully grasp or comprehend, in terms of evaluating, it had to be Burgundy. I’ve thought a lot about that. I certainly have Burgundies in my cellar that I pull out. I’ve tended to buy the riper vintages, such as 1985, 1989, and 1990, and I’m pleased with how the wines have evolved, but it’s often the lighter vintages in Burgundy that actually have a staying power and longevity that I could never fully grasp or appreciate when I was tasting them young.
Pretty funny that the co-founder of pinot-producer Beaux Freres isn't that keen on the grape!

His spine, hip and knee ailments sound very painful, and he confirms that those were what forced him to retire.

Anyway, definitely something that WBers may be interested in.
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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#2 Post by Tomás Costa » June 30th, 2020, 5:18 pm

I doubt Parker, as a wine lover, is as limited as many make him out to be. He has his tendencies, as we all do, but he has tasted far and wide (some say too much, actually).

He's also now part of a paradigm we've overcome, and people who are yesterday's news are rarely kind to the new kids on the block. I think that's especially obvious in the arts. I once met the violinist Pinchas Zukerman, who has been a very vocal opponent of so called historical informed performance (perfomance of music from older periods with the exact instruments of the time, and an attempt to understand the performance paradigm of those eras). Zukerman is a strict modernist and has said very nasty things about the people that play HIP - worse than anything Parker has ever said about Burgundy, natural wines or what you will. Nevertheless, by talking to him I could understand that even his viewpoint wasn't as dogmatic as I thought.

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#3 Post by maureen nelson » June 30th, 2020, 6:26 pm

Parker shows remarkable insight in the quoted section of the article. He never appreciated that burgundy can shut down, like bordeaux and cabernet, and so when he tasted them in bottle while they were shut down and only grasped the acidity and sometimes tannin he thought he’d misjudged them from barrel or been served different wine when tasting from barrel. If you compare his barrel notes on the 1988 vintage (published only in his burgundy book - very positive) to his notes 2-3 years later (not positive) you will see what I mean. He put a mea culpa in TWA apologizing for his rave of the ‘88s, which killed the US market for them (to the great consternation of Addy Bassin, who’d gone long on them). But I tasted many ‘88s when they first came in and loved them and bought as many as i could afford. (Later when macarthurs was dumping them I bought a bunch more.) When i first discovered gilman’s burgundy notes (years before view from the cellar he worked for a swiss (?) wine merchant and published lots of notes on older burgs online - wish I had saved copies), I finally found another fan of the 1988s.

Parker preferred low acid reds and never understood that burg can have tannins but be balanced but not show it when the fruit shuts down. This is a mistake newbies sometimes make - thinking the fruit is gone or insufficient when it has merely gone to sleep - and Parker made it in spades when evaluating burgundy. He now realizes it.

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#4 Post by P@u1_M3nk3s » June 30th, 2020, 6:51 pm

Nice article. Kudos from me, someone who left the Squires board due to their high-handedness.
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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#5 Post by Kris Patten » June 30th, 2020, 6:59 pm

Like him or hate him Parker changed the wine industry for the better, in that more people drink wine because of Robert Parker, and better wines are made. Whether that wine is your style or not, doesn't matter, as more wines became accessible due to him.

As far as Burgundy goes, one person can only cover so much, look at Vinous, it takes an army, and it probably kept the secret value in Burgundy longer than Bordeaux due to his 1982 reviews, so count yourself lucky if you were old enough to buy those pre-1994 vintages.
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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#6 Post by maureen nelson » June 30th, 2020, 7:22 pm

Kris Patten wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 6:59 pm

it probably kept the secret value in Burgundy longer than Bordeaux due to his 1982 reviews, so count yourself lucky if you were old enough to buy those pre-1994 vintages.
Absolutely! Before the advent of wine boards and Allen Meadows “Burghound” Burgundy was an arcane secret, known to a much smaller circle of wine geeks. I used to score great deals on older burgs at auctions because only DRC, Leroy, and Rousseau commanded a lot of coin.

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#7 Post by alan weinberg » June 30th, 2020, 9:18 pm

maureen nelson wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 7:22 pm
Kris Patten wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 6:59 pm

it probably kept the secret value in Burgundy longer than Bordeaux due to his 1982 reviews, so count yourself lucky if you were old enough to buy those pre-1994 vintages.
Absolutely! Before the advent of wine boards and Allen Meadows “Burghound” Burgundy was an arcane secret, known to a much smaller circle of wine geeks. I used to score great deals on older burgs at auctions because only DRC, Leroy, and Rousseau commanded a lot of coin.
and even earlier, DRC, Leroy, and Rousseau sat on shelves at low prices. You could buy one bottle, wait a week to try, and go back the next week to buy—at great prices. 90 Leroy Clos de la Roche was $100, 90 La Tâche $233, 90 Rousseau Chambertin $100. 90 Rousseau Beze
was a bit more at $110.

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#8 Post by Jürgen Steinke » June 30th, 2020, 10:06 pm

Yes, and now the question: Is wine critic in the days of the internet really an advantage for consumers?

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#9 Post by Andy Sc » June 30th, 2020, 11:39 pm

Jürgen Steinke wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 10:06 pm
Yes, and now the question: Is wine critic in the days of the internet really an advantage for consumers?
200%! How else should the consumer know what young, freshly released wine to buy (from a region he hasn't travelled to and tasted it himself)?

While one critic might often/sometimes/hardly ever be wrong and not always a good guide, your trusted critic (which scored you a lot of good buys in the past, whose palate is aligned with yours) might be a good guide, and if that positive review of a young wine by your trusted wine critic is supported by a very good average rating of all the other critics out there, it gives you a) a great chance that you indeed buy something good and b) provides you with a strong downside protection, in case you don't like it (a wine with many 97-100 scores will usually has a sound price performance and at least hardly any downside).

Ignoring these facts for me is like ignoring the reality.

For older wines, however, it is clearly less important and Cellartracker is usually the best guide (and not a 15 year old rating of one or the other critic).
Last edited by Andy Sc on July 1st, 2020, 1:03 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#10 Post by Jürgen Steinke » June 30th, 2020, 11:58 pm

I began as a wine lover in days when there was no internet and little wine press. I traveled and tasted. And bought what I thought is good. And I tell you something. I had a lot of fun and found a lot of superb wines. To affordable prices. I met a lot of interested people over the years and we changed opinions and wines and tasted together. That is my take of being a wine lover.

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#11 Post by Julian Marshall » July 1st, 2020, 12:05 am

It's an excellent article, I agree. Fair, balanced and well-written. I liked this bit:
He made the tasting, drinking and collection of wine a sexy, aspirational and culturally rewarding activity for many around the world who had formerly considered it locked beyond their reach, the preserve of a wealthy European bourgeois elite or of snooty intellectuals.

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#12 Post by Andy Sc » July 1st, 2020, 1:05 am

Jürgen Steinke wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 11:58 pm
I began as a wine lover in days when there was no internet and little wine press. I traveled and tasted. And bought what I thought is good. And I tell you something. I had a lot of fun and found a lot of superb wines. To affordable prices. I met a lot of interested people over the years and we changed opinions and wines and tasted together. That is my take of being a wine lover.
I see and that's a wonderful story and most of us experienced it like that. But that was not your question (you asked whether or not critics are still of value in the age of the internet).
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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#13 Post by Jürgen Steinke » July 1st, 2020, 2:17 am

Andy,

the dark side is price escalation and speculation. Wineries and merchants use the scores for marketing purposes. And many of the top wines are not for drinking any more. They rest in cellars in hope of a profit. All that has a lot to do with scores, the internet and so forth.

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#14 Post by Andy Sc » July 1st, 2020, 7:01 am

Jürgen Steinke wrote:
July 1st, 2020, 2:17 am
Andy,

the dark side is price escalation and speculation. Wineries and merchants use the scores for marketing purposes. And many of the top wines are not for drinking any more. They rest in cellars in hope of a profit. All that has a lot to do with scores, the internet and so forth.
True, price escalation is the dark side (however, with one positive consequence being the improved quality around the world, as Jeffords writes). But that would be the topic of another discussion (you asked whether or not critics are still of value in the age of the internet).
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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#15 Post by John Morris » July 1st, 2020, 7:16 am

Jürgen Steinke wrote:
June 30th, 2020, 11:58 pm
I began as a wine lover in days when there was no internet and little wine press. I traveled and tasted. And bought what I thought is good. And I tell you something. I had a lot of fun and found a lot of superb wines. To affordable prices. I met a lot of interested people over the years and we changed opinions and wines and tasted together. That is my take of being a wine lover.
Much easier if you’re in Germany, Austria or Switzerland!
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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#16 Post by larry schaffer » July 1st, 2020, 7:58 am

I've said it before - without Parker and his love of Rhones, we would not have had the explosion of quality rhone varietal producers here in US, unless not as we've seen it thus far. Love him or hate him, he is almost solely responsible for this . . .

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#17 Post by Jürgen Steinke » July 1st, 2020, 8:03 am

I know a lot of your fellow citizens who travel a lot in Europe. I was often astounded that people of your country are very familiar with even the landscape I was born and raised (Baden/Germany). It is all a question of interest. If you have no money to travel you have no money to buy wines to the prices they cost today. And by the way: California, Oregon and Washington do produce world class wines. Pinot, Cab, Chardonnay. There is no shortage of fine wine in the US and the country is definitely worth to travel, to taste and learn. I would say the US is one of the major quality wine producing countries in the world.

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#18 Post by Jürgen Steinke » July 1st, 2020, 8:07 am

Larry,
that is true. CdP experienced a renaissance due to Parker. He had this power in his days. I am not a Parker hater btw. Every medal has two sides.

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Re: Decanter award for Parker and interview/profile

#19 Post by Markus S » July 1st, 2020, 8:35 am

Well better late recognition than never. Funny, but the one and only time I met him was at a Burgundy tasting he was heading at the time his book of that subject came out.
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