What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

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J Dove
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What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#1 Post by J Dove » August 24th, 2018, 6:21 pm

After a work-induced hiatus from wine that lasted several years, I'm back. I went nearly a decade without subscribing to eBob, Tanzer (now Vinous with Anthony Galloni who, when I checked out was part of eBob, if I remember right), Jancis, or anything else. So, I've checked back in, updated my subscription to eBob and to Vinous and have been catching up on vintages and such.

So -- I was looking at vintage charts, comparing eBob and Vinous for Piemonte. Here's what I see:

eBob rates 2014 Barbaresco at 79 points -- second only to 2002 as worst vintage in forever.
Vinous rates 2014 Barbaresco at 95 points, describing it as, 'A cold, late-ripening season with ideal Fall weather produced taut, mid-weight Barbarescos endowed with striking aromatic presence, finely sculpted fruit and lively acidity, all of which give the wines considerable energy. Barbaresco did not suffer the hail that was so problematic in Barolo. Two thousand fourteen is shaping up to be an exciting vintage for Barbaresco. It is a vintage that will especially appeal to classically leaning palates.'

Help me understand how this is remotely possible. I've listened to a over a half dozen interviews Levi Dalton has done with Barolo and Barbaresco producers and their comments mirror Vinous -- that Barbaresco produced good wines in 2014 and that it was a comparatively tough year in Barolo.

I'm genuinely out of the loop the last decade... totally checked out. Who are the voices you can trust these days? I really like Ian d'Agata and generally find our tastes aligned in Italy. I always trusted Tanzer and similarly could always relate to his reviews. Vinous' website is much more engaging than eBob. Is Bob just checking out?

And, while I am at it -- what is Wine Enthusiast? What's their approach? Are their reviews independent? And Wine Spectator? Are they as inconsistent/unreliable as they were 10 - 20 years ago? What about Suckling? I have a general feeling there and don't want to say it for fear of writing something libelous. I don't drink Burgundy unless someone else is bringing it -- so I don't pay much attention to Meadows.

I'm just a little bewildered with what has happened in the wine critic space over the past decade. I've been drinking my wine and paying no attention whatsoever to the world of wine. Who do you trust and why?

And, what happened to eBob and who is right on 2014 Barbaresco? How does one professional critic think a recent Barbaresco vintage is one of the worst in the past 30 years and another think it's a classic vintage? Is Vinous shilling? Has Parker lost it?
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#2 Post by Markus S » August 24th, 2018, 6:30 pm

I don't think Parker has ever understood Piedmont, even if the alcohol levels are up his alley. Can't really help too much with the critics, as I look and listen but tend to ignore them mostly. Galloni tends to overinflate by 3-4 points or so imo.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#3 Post by Marcus Dean » August 24th, 2018, 6:34 pm

Bob Parker sold the business a while ago and doesnt review wines anymore.
2014 is a really good vintage in Barbaresco in a classic sense of a vintage, if big bold and ripe is your thing then hang on for 2015.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#4 Post by J Dove » August 24th, 2018, 6:42 pm

Markus S wrote:
August 24th, 2018, 6:30 pm
I don't think Parker has ever understood Piedmont, even if the alcohol levels are up his alley. Can't really help too much with the critics, as I look and listen but tend to ignore them mostly. Galloni tends to overinflate by 3-4 points or so imo.
I agree RE: Galloni. Felsina and Ridge are good examples. I like both producers, but he's awfully generous there...
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#5 Post by S teve R edenbaugh » August 24th, 2018, 8:04 pm

Wine Spectator is a "life style" magazine. Wine Enthusiast is a trade publication fueled by advertising and selling of wine accoutrements. Have not trusted the Wine Advocate since Bob checked out and started shilling "wine candy" like Shamus and Silver Joke. I do read Vinous, but with a grain of salt about the size of Lot's Wife. Trust your palate and test everything you read. It's your money...and there's a lot of over-priced labels on shelves. Drink what you like...even if all the critics toss your "darlings" under the bus.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#6 Post by jcoley3 » August 24th, 2018, 8:07 pm

I think you'll find most critics are awfully generous with points these days. The competition means whoever gives the highest score gets their name hung beneath the wine, which means consumers see them hung there as an authority, which means they get more potential subscribers.

(See: James Suckling)

I was laughing with a sales rep about a Wine Enthusiast review for an Oregon Pinot where the text makes it sound virtually undrinkable, but the reviewer still threw it 87 points.

I think you'll find they don't have the same influence they did a decade ago. I work with a guy who was out of the business for about 12 years, and he was perplexed that no one wanted Australia and that hanging 90-point shelf talkers wasn't a magic way to sell wine any more.

That said, I like the same critics you like.

I also have to acknowledge that being in the trade gives me access to wine firsthand more than most.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#7 Post by Tom Taylor » August 25th, 2018, 3:52 am

Regarding 2014 Barbaresco, was just in the area earlier this month. While many producers are onto 2015s, there are plenty of 2014s still out there. I would rate this a very good vintage (91-92) based on my experience with what I’ve tasted so far. There was roughly 30-40% less rain in Barbaresco in 2014 than Barolo. Also the troubling hail that occurred in this growing season seems to have been confined to Barolo. The wines are classic in style with good acidity, plenty of structure and more elegant and lifted.

The above comments about critics are spot on in my opinion. Vinous has an all star line up of critics and I feel is the most respected voice out there. That being said 95 point ratings are thrown around pretty regularly these days by everyone. Ian D’Agata seems to be the most conservative reviewer there.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#8 Post by John Morris » August 25th, 2018, 5:34 am

J Dove wrote:
August 24th, 2018, 6:21 pm
So -- I was looking at vintage charts, comparing eBob and Vinous for Piemonte. Here's what I see:

eBob rates 2014 Barbaresco at 79 points -- second only to 2002 as worst vintage in forever.
Vinous rates 2014 Barbaresco at 95 points, describing it as, 'A cold, late-ripening season with ideal Fall weather produced taut, mid-weight Barbarescos endowed with striking aromatic presence, finely sculpted fruit and lively acidity, all of which give the wines considerable energy. Barbaresco did not suffer the hail that was so problematic in Barolo. Two thousand fourteen is shaping up to be an exciting vintage for Barbaresco. It is a vintage that will especially appeal to classically leaning palates.'

Help me understand how this is remotely possible.
The WA 79 points is embarrassingly ignorant -- appalling, really.

The Vinous 95 points is inflated, even by the standards of Vinous.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#9 Post by crickey » August 25th, 2018, 5:48 am

I suspect the WA 79 is an error (or some odd disconnect from the reviews) as Monica Larner says in several articles that 2014 was very good in Barbaresco, and her reviews of the wines reflects that.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#10 Post by J a y H a c k » August 25th, 2018, 5:54 am

jcoley3 wrote:
August 24th, 2018, 8:07 pm
I think you'll find most critics are awfully generous with points these days. The competition means whoever gives the highest score gets their name hung beneath the wine, which means consumers see them hung there as an authority, which means they get more potential subscribers. . .
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Remember that we represent about 0.00% of the wine buying public. Why else would you see 19 Crimes Wine and Notorious Pink at every corner, with Rombauer Chardonnay and The Prisoner being the super premium ultra luxury cuvees. The critics won't bite the hand that ultimately feeds them.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#11 Post by Mattstolz » August 25th, 2018, 6:01 am

If i have to pick a publication to trust at this point, its typically Vinous. As mentioned above though, most publications over inflate scores. The only one I would say is not over inflated is Burghound. But d'Agata is at Vinous now, and I think that my palate lines up well with Galoni on most things.

As for 2014 Piedmont, I also tend to agree with vinous. it'll be a pretty classically styled vintage, which I tend to like, and which vinous tends to reward with higher scores, which is part of the reason i put more stock in their reviews.

also any score you see from Suckling you can pretty safely subtract 6-9 points from for a realistic score.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#12 Post by Dennis Borczon » August 25th, 2018, 8:34 am

Allen Meadows is indeed pretty good for information about Burgundy. The most common complaint about him is that he never seems to find a premier cru that will outperform a grand cru, or a village wine that rises to the level of a premier cru. Now I know about terroir and all that jazz, but come on, there are some years that cooler sites and warmer sites will overdeliver on a "classic" vineyard. His research is tremendous, and he gives a fair degree of detail. More off the beaten track is Steen Ohman at Winehog. This guy has a serious Burgundy obsession. He tracks down the cadastre plots for producers and produces incredible detail about certain wines. Not in any way comprehensive, (after all this is Burgundy) but i don't mind that because with his information you can out geek the geekiest of Burgundy snobs in conversation. His palate aligns pretty closely with mine and he is kind of a hoot to read, if you like hanging with the most obsessive of your buddies.



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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#13 Post by Peter Panzica » August 25th, 2018, 1:08 pm

Jim-Great topic. Think about this a lot. We were sitting at different tables in a restaurant in St Estephe back about 10 years ago btw. Welcome back. You were a very knowledgable poster back on the Parker board. Why did you take such a long break?

To your topic: Has RP officially stopped tasting or is he on a hiatus from illness? The board never makes it clear. But what has happened on the board and with the reviewers is kind of tragic. I wonder if LPB and whoever invested regret their decision. Mighty have fallen. Also they killed what was once a vey informational board. The place is just dead. I have no idea why they let this happen. Pure stubborness. Losing Jeb after Antonio and then having RP go down left me lost with the reviewers. I don't know what to think of LPB and the California tastings. Too little info to know if palates align. Also Joe C on Rhone styles....I just don't know. The one person I really like is Monica Larner and if she and Antonio give a good review on an Italian wine I'm going to likely purchase it. Also while AG and JD have linked to CT, WA has refused despite pleas from members.

I still trust Jeb for Rhone but he seems to be reviewing everything now and handing out 99 and 100s like they are tic tacs. I have supported his site since inception but the content is seemingly less and unpredictable. I do really like him but don't know how feasible it is to continue to subscribe to 3 review sites.

As far AG. His website crushes it for content. Frequent postings, active on Twitter (as is Jeb), restaurant reviews (which was invaluable on my Piemonte trip). I'm not sure how my palate aligns on CA with his. He is a great writer. ST I feel pushes scores down as others have recently inflated them. And now they have NM. Clearly they are in the lead. Downside is I cant assess the forum I think because I have a lower tier membership.

So a theme. If I see high praise from 2 of the 3 or more site reviewers on a wine chances are its good. The one caveat is JS. I would never take his review in isolation and it enrages me when sellers put his big score and his alone up there. Not as worried about libel but I think his notes are motivated by anything except what's in the glass. WS has become an afterthought but I still receive it and it does provide some entertainment and I do look at the ratings.

I agree with what John M says about the 2014 Piemonte vintage having just got back from there. No doubt a step off but many good wines were made. John love the new avatar btw. I was lucky enough to purchase an artist label from B Mascarello when I was there. They are beautiful labels by the man himself.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#14 Post by Jonathan Grunzweig » August 25th, 2018, 1:13 pm

Peter Panzica wrote:
August 25th, 2018, 1:08 pm

As far AG. His website crushes it for content. Frequent postings, active on Twitter (as is Jeb), restaurant reviews (which was invaluable on my Piemonte trip). I'm not sure how my palate aligns on CA with his. He is a great writer. ST I feel pushes scores down as others have recently inflated them. And now they have NM. Clearly they are in the lead. Downside is I cant assess the forum I think because I have a lower tier membership.
Peter, I’ve been on Vinous from inception and am unaware of a lower tier membership that would deny you Your Say forum access. I find that forum very rewarding. You might alert Vinous to your problem. Hope to see you posting soon,

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#15 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 25th, 2018, 1:35 pm

I haven't subscribed to any wine review periodical (other than Champagne Warrior) for a couple of years now. The ascension of Lisa Perrotti (sp?) Brown marked the last straw for me at TWA, and when Neal left, it simply erased any last vestige of curiosity. I have given momentary and recurring consideration to Vinous, but it isn't cheap, I am not really buying enough wine (and certainly not enough recent-vintage cellar-worthy wine) to make it worthwhile. If I did buy, it would be solely for the "other" content and info about back vintages. I do like Neal Martin's writing and we share a love of bordeaux.

A tool like TWA was extremely valuable -- indispensable really -- for me what I started. At my current age/stage, I know what I like, and have enough sources of information (like this board) for discovering more wine than I can hope to buy.

Not to pry, but I am curious about your work-induced absence from wine, Jim. Were you working in a Muslim country?
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#16 Post by Rory K. » August 25th, 2018, 1:45 pm

For that 79 on 2014 Barbaresco, I feel that while consumers are more and more educated about Piedmont than ever these days, it is still the MO of the lazy critics to just assume Barolo and Barbaresco have the same vintage characteristics; sad but common, I feel like I've read Jancis Robinson make that mistake too.

My favorite is Vinous, but for the articles not so much scores. Most critics seem to inflate their scores a la Suckling because, as a previous poster mentioned, it gets their name on the retail shelf. Seems like it has fully evolved into a racket in cahoots with the retail side of things.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#17 Post by LarryA » August 25th, 2018, 10:29 pm

I do believe that 79 rating at eBob is a mistake. I just checked, and 40 Barbareschi have been reviewed there, with scores from 97 to 87. Barolo has many more wines reviewed, with a lot more in the 90s, and a similar range. If that's the definition of a vintage rated 79 I would be astonished.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#18 Post by Ian Sutton » August 26th, 2018, 2:21 am

A vintage rating as a single number, is a very stupid concept, pandering to laziness of all involved, from critic to reader. Yes such a low score seems at odds with other opinion, but after all it's a broad-brush opinion (albeit from a source I have no respect for).

A good point though Larry - it seems sensible for such an organisation, should they feel the need for such a lazy headline, to make that number a moving average of all the Barbaresco wines that they taste in that vintage. Perhaps they do that already, and the low number is heavily weighted down by their policy of not publishing scores below (80) points?
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#19 Post by Gary York » August 26th, 2018, 3:09 am

The WA is finished, it is just a matter of time. I don't see how any person that is serious about wine follows anything they write. Vinous is very good. But I am not a fan of NM. Something is wrong with your interface, they do not have a lower level membership that would exclude you from "Your Say". If you like Italian, Vinous is the place to be.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#20 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 26th, 2018, 3:21 am

It's been 15+ years (2000?) since I subscribed to TWA and even longer to WS. Those were my two prime sources, but really at a time that pre-dated the masses of quality information that you can find on the internet, these wines boards, or other sources. I flirted for a short spell with Wine Doctor (Chris Kissack), mostly because of his unique focus on Loire. At a certain point, I developed a core stable of producers that formed the bulk of my buying, and which I bought in most vintages regardless of ratings. Heck, some of these producers have only recently starting getting coverage from the rags, and before that, the ratings if any were all over the map or not even very impressive. Worked for me, I loved these wines and prices stayed down accordingly.

Some may suggest that critics often introduce you to new wines and regions, but I have to say, I've learned more or as much from the knowledgeable folks on this board. I learned about Bedrock here, not through critics. I learned about Juge here, before the craze. Champet. Levet. Roilette. Metras. I learned about Gonon while surfing TWA pre-firewall. These are major holdings in my little collection. I have no clue how critics have reviewed these wines, and frankly, it matters not to me. I actually used to buy a lot more Clape Cornas until Parker finally anointed the 2009 and 2010 vintages with super lofty scores, and now the prices are 50%+ more.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#21 Post by Ian Sutton » August 26th, 2018, 4:00 am

Hi Robert
You've mentioned a couple of points (doh!) I wholeheartedly agree with:

Points can all too often work in the opposite direction to what the followers of points would want. The wines that garner high profile / high points scores can escalate rapidly in price, so what was a good wine at a decent price (e.g. Burlotto Monvigliero) has temporarily or permanently gone through the roof by the time it reaches the end customers. That 100 point score didn't do any favours to the end customers, except those who had an opportunity to buy at cellar door / similar price, and who now rather than buying a wine they liked to drink, are wondering whether they ought to sell it instead, and the buyer (if they sell) will end up paying much more. In my opinion they'll be paying much more than they should be paying, but that's their choice. For some it's a positive feeling to be drinking a '100 point wine'. Those wines we like and are consistently rated poorly - happy days! As long as there are still buyers, the wine gets made, in the same style and at an attractive price.

Critics can indeed provide useful suggestions as entry points to a new region - and especially representative examples with an established track record, but you are right, there is a wealth of opinion and insight out there, and at times those other sources are ahead of the game. I find many critics stick to the same wines that are 'worthy of review'. This means some smaller gems go unnoticed, and can be a rich source of value for someone touring a wine region, or who taps into the knowledge of someone prepared to do that, or who has access to a wine merchant who is prepared to do the hard yards themselves. Those little gems often become favourites in the cellar.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#22 Post by crickey » August 26th, 2018, 5:38 am

Gary York wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 3:09 am
The WA is finished, it is just a matter of time. I don't see how any person that is serious about wine follows anything they write. Vinous is very good. But I am not a fan of NM. Something is wrong with your interface, they do not have a lower level membership that would exclude you from "Your Say". If you like Italian, Vinous is the place to be.
I find quotes like this odd. In broad strokes, the two publications say basically the same thing about the wines reviewed for basically the same reasons. Why anyone would find one credible and the other a joke is beyond me. I realize you are mainly into Italian wines and Italy is one of the two regions where Vinous has a clear advantage if only because they have two reviewers and can cover more wines and more regions (and Ian D'Agata is the best of the Italian reviewers across the major English-language publications). And maybe you don't like Monica Larner. For most other areas, it's pretty much a wash for me, with the exception of anything Luis Gutierrez covers because that dude is a stud reviewer. I think William Kelley was a very good pickup for the WA and addresses one of the long-time shortcomings of the WA (Burgundy); let's see if he sticks.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#23 Post by David Glasser » August 26th, 2018, 7:49 am

Parker was an invaluable resource in the 80s, when I was learning what I liked and before the internet made information so accessible. The information explosion caused some fundamental changes in the role of wine critics. It made them both more and less important, but in different ways and in different time frames.

When the internet first happened the critics, Parker primarily and Wine Spectator to a degree, became even more important because everyone, not just subscribers, had access to the scores. Retailers and consumers scrambled to get their hands on each new WA issue because even a 24-48 hour lead time was like having insider information one could capitalize on. Some went so far as to open a P.O. box at the post office WA used for mailings to get a leg up.

Over time, as online communities began to develop and more people shared scores and TNs, people began to realize that their online friends were often as good or better sources of information, and the power of the critics began to wane. At least with the community of wine lovers that cared enough to compare notes. Critics still have an impact on the larger public that is influenced by a shelf talker written by anyone.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#24 Post by Julian Marshall » August 26th, 2018, 8:19 am

Jim,

I too remember you as a knowledgeable and sensible poster on EBob, so welcome back! I returned to wine myself last year after a shorter break than yours and asked myself much the same questions regarding advice. FWIW....

TWA - I've never met him, but I feel sorry for William Kelley - he seems eminently interesting and well-intentioned - what a time to arrive. Like it or not, TWA used to be awe-inspiring in its domination - now, it just inspires chuckles. Industrial sabotage on a grand scale. I re-subscribed for access to the database, but it's a complete waste of time otherwise.

Vinous - NM's arrival tipped the scales in its favour for me and I have to say I'm impressed by their coverage since I subscribed. Also, Neal seems to be even better than before, as if a great weight has been lifted from his pen...so I recommend it.

But others are right about WB and elsewhere - there are indeed many proven palates providing excellent advice for free. Once you get a handle on who likes what, it's a good alternative.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#25 Post by Jay Miller » August 26th, 2018, 9:12 am

Reminds me of when Rovani downgraded 1993 white and red burgundy. I think it was something like 78 and 82 respectively?

I got some great buys for a while after that.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#26 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 26th, 2018, 9:22 am

crickey wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 5:38 am
For most other areas, it's pretty much a wash for me, with the exception of anything Luis Gutierrez covers because that dude is a stud reviewer. I think William Kelley was a very good pickup for the WA and addresses one of the long-time shortcomings of the WA (Burgundy); let's see if he sticks.
William is an excellent writer and taster. His depth is well beyond Burgundy, too. Look at this comments and notes on this board regarding Bordeaux, Rhones and Beaujolais. I have enjoyed some selections on Spanish wines by Luis. I will admit to looking at some shelf-talkers when I was looking for some Spanish wines and was way out of my league in that category.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#27 Post by alan weinberg » August 26th, 2018, 9:43 am

Jay Miller wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 9:12 am
Reminds me of when Rovani downgraded 1993 white and red burgundy. I think it was something like 78 and 82 respectively?

I got some great buys for a while after that.
the original Parker 93 red ratings were 67 for Cote de Beaune and 73 for Cote de Nuits, subsequently upgraded by Rovani. Don’t remember the score for whites. We gave Rovani and Parker a lot of shit for those scores and got the wines at a bargain.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#28 Post by GregT » August 26th, 2018, 12:07 pm

There are lots of threads on this very subject - do a search and you'll find out what's happened over the past ten years.

Several things to remember are that some of the writers have switched from one place to another. Joe Cz was editor at WE and now works for EBob. Was he useless at WE and now suddenly knowledgeable? No. He was always pretty reliable. Jeb is much newer and more recent to many areas. I guess he's OK but there are people on this board who've had a lot more wine from many of the places he covers. Suckling is out on his own doing road shows and he really doesn't care whether anyone on this board respects him or not - he's one of the few critics making good money.

The line-ups at all of the magazines have changed over the years. Some people are new, some have shifted regions they cover, and there's a lot of info out there that wasn't around in the 1970s and 1980s. When Parker started, the wine world was small and when he championed the Rhone he had some influence. Today, there are no real "new" areas that someone can make a reputation over. They're trying to "call" a vintage in this place or that one as a way to stake out some notoriety, but it's pretty much all bs.

This board is as good and bad as any of the publications mentioned, for many of the same reasons. So I see no need whatsoever to subscribe to any of them.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#29 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 26th, 2018, 1:29 pm

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 9:22 am
crickey wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 5:38 am
For most other areas, it's pretty much a wash for me, with the exception of anything Luis Gutierrez covers because that dude is a stud reviewer. I think William Kelley was a very good pickup for the WA and addresses one of the long-time shortcomings of the WA (Burgundy); let's see if he sticks.
William is an excellent writer and taster. His depth is well beyond Burgundy, too. Look at this comments and notes on this board regarding Bordeaux, Rhones and Beaujolais. I have enjoyed some selections on Spanish wines by Luis. I will admit to looking at some shelf-talkers when I was looking for some Spanish wines and was way out of my league in that category.
I agree that William has been an excellent add to TWA. I look forward to his posts here
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#30 Post by J Dove » August 26th, 2018, 3:42 pm

GregT wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 12:07 pm
This board is as good and bad as any of the publications mentioned, for many of the same reasons. So I see no need whatsoever to subscribe to any of them.
I agree that the board is a great source of information. But, for me at least, it's a compliment to, rather than a great substitute for, the subscriptions. There's a big difference between professional critics and people like us. People like Tanzer or Parker or d'Igata or (insert your preferred aligned critic) taste through vast quantities of wines we can't afford to sample, often in a setting that allows for comparisons that are impossible to make for normal enthusiasts. If they go through 40 or 50 Northern Medocs in a day, the better examples stand out.

Producers change hands, styles, winemakers, etc. and you don't always make those connections without the subscriptions. I think my cellar is a lot better than it would otherwise be if I only relied on the very limited postings of wine boards or CT (which is a mix of people with and without experience). I was a prolific poster in the mid-90s and I know I had a lot of stupid opinions that have not stood the test of time.

I don't mean to minimize the value of the boards -- but, I do think you're underestimating the benefits subscriptions offer for people who buy a fair amount of wine without first tasting it. Sure, you could say, taste it first then... But, that's very often not possible or practical.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#31 Post by M.Kaplan » August 26th, 2018, 3:56 pm

J Dove wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 3:42 pm
GregT wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 12:07 pm
This board is as good and bad as any of the publications mentioned, for many of the same reasons. So I see no need whatsoever to subscribe to any of them.
I agree that the board is a great source of information. But, for me at least, it's a compliment to, rather than a great substitute for, the subscriptions. There's a big difference between professional critics and people like us. People like Tanzer or Parker or d'Igata or (insert your preferred aligned critic) taste through vast quantities of wines we can't afford to sample, often in a setting that allows for comparisons that are impossible to make for normal enthusiasts. If they go through 40 or 50 Northern Medocs in a day, the better examples stand out.

Producers change hands, styles, winemakers, etc. and you don't always make those connections without the subscriptions. I think my cellar is a lot better than it would otherwise be if I only relied on the very limited postings of wine boards or CT (which is a mix of people with and without experience). I was a prolific poster in the mid-90s and I know I had a lot of stupid opinions that have not stood the test of time.

I don't mean to minimize the value of the boards -- but, I do think you're underestimating the benefits subscriptions offer for people who buy a fair amount of wine without first tasting it. Sure, you could say, taste it first then... But, that's very often not possible or practical.
I do not believe amateurs are better than pros at wine tasting, but if anyone goes through 40 or 50 wines in a day the "better examples" don't necessarily stand out. The larger scaled, more fruity, riper, more opulent wines stand out. Which is why many pros favor bigger wine styles and award them big points, but are not, for the most part, wines that I want to drink with dinner.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#32 Post by J Dove » August 26th, 2018, 4:19 pm

[/quote]
I do not believe amateurs are better than pros at wine tasting, but if anyone goes through 40 or 50 wines in a day the "better examples" don't necessarily stand out. The larger scaled, more fruity, riper, more opulent wines stand out. Which is why many pros favor bigger wine styles and award them big points, but are not, for the most part, wines that I want to drink with dinner.
[/quote]

That's far from universally true. What stands out is what you think is ideal. Case in point: Parker (in the day) and Jancis Robinson both taste through some voluminous amount of Right Bank wines in a day. Their scores often are only vaguely related to each other. They're looking for different things. When you taste through 40 or 50 wines, you'll note that there are plenty of big wines that suck.

There's some truth to what you're saying, though. I had a bottle of 2016 Martinelli Pinot Noir Biondi Home Ranch last night that was well pointed and had a little too much going on, IMO.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#33 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 26th, 2018, 4:31 pm

M.Kaplan wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 3:56 pm
J Dove wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 3:42 pm
GregT wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 12:07 pm
This board is as good and bad as any of the publications mentioned, for many of the same reasons. So I see no need whatsoever to subscribe to any of them.
I agree that the board is a great source of information. But, for me at least, it's a compliment to, rather than a great substitute for, the subscriptions. There's a big difference between professional critics and people like us. People like Tanzer or Parker or d'Igata or (insert your preferred aligned critic) taste through vast quantities of wines we can't afford to sample, often in a setting that allows for comparisons that are impossible to make for normal enthusiasts. If they go through 40 or 50 Northern Medocs in a day, the better examples stand out.

Producers change hands, styles, winemakers, etc. and you don't always make those connections without the subscriptions. I think my cellar is a lot better than it would otherwise be if I only relied on the very limited postings of wine boards or CT (which is a mix of people with and without experience). I was a prolific poster in the mid-90s and I know I had a lot of stupid opinions that have not stood the test of time.

I don't mean to minimize the value of the boards -- but, I do think you're underestimating the benefits subscriptions offer for people who buy a fair amount of wine without first tasting it. Sure, you could say, taste it first then... But, that's very often not possible or practical.
I do not believe amateurs are better than pros at wine tasting, but if anyone goes through 40 or 50 wines in a day the "better examples" don't necessarily stand out. The larger scaled, more fruity, riper, more opulent wines stand out. Which is why many pros favor bigger wine styles and award them big points, but are not, for the most part, wines that I want to drink with dinner.
You beat me to the punch. It’s not just that they taste 40-50+ at a time, it’s also the smaller quantities, the snapshot in time instead of over an evening, conditions, glasses, temperature, etc. i place far more value on someone like you or Neal Mollen posting impressions of one or a few Bordeaux wines enjoyed over an evening.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#34 Post by Howard Cooper » August 26th, 2018, 4:42 pm

J Dove wrote:
August 24th, 2018, 6:21 pm

I'm just a little bewildered with what has happened in the wine critic space over the past decade. I've been drinking my wine and paying no attention whatsoever to the world of wine. Who do you trust and why?

And, what happened to eBob and who is right on 2014 Barbaresco? How does one professional critic think a recent Barbaresco vintage is one of the worst in the past 30 years and another think it's a classic vintage? Is Vinous shilling? Has Parker lost it?
I think that what has happened to wine criticism is that it has splintered. There is no longer one holy diety who gives wines a score that is considered their absolute measure of quality.

Instead, there are a number of critics some of who specialize in wine regions (like Allen Meadows with Burghound) and others of whom don't try to be terribly objective but rate wines on their subjective views of how wines should taste (like John Gilman of A View from the Cellar). There are quite a number of wine newletters and of wine blogs.

It might help if you state the types of wines you like and your favorite wine regions (I assume that it includes Bordeaux, but more traditional Bordeaux or more modern styled wines) and people can try to better tailor their recommendations to the wines you like rather than the wines they like.

Not a wine newsletter, but if you want to get back into current wine start listening to these. http://illdrinktothatpod.com/
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#35 Post by Howard Cooper » August 26th, 2018, 4:46 pm

alan weinberg wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 9:43 am
Jay Miller wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 9:12 am
Reminds me of when Rovani downgraded 1993 white and red burgundy. I think it was something like 78 and 82 respectively?

I got some great buys for a while after that.
the original Parker 93 red ratings were 67 for Cote de Beaune and 73 for Cote de Nuits, subsequently upgraded by Rovani. Don’t remember the score for whites. We gave Rovani and Parker a lot of shit for those scores and got the wines at a bargain.
I miss the days when the Wine Advocate rated highly the wrong Burgundy producers and vintages and the good stuff would go on sale.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#36 Post by J Dove » August 26th, 2018, 5:42 pm

Howard Cooper wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 4:42 pm
J Dove wrote:
August 24th, 2018, 6:21 pm

I'm just a little bewildered with what has happened in the wine critic space over the past decade. I've been drinking my wine and paying no attention whatsoever to the world of wine. Who do you trust and why?

And, what happened to eBob and who is right on 2014 Barbaresco? How does one professional critic think a recent Barbaresco vintage is one of the worst in the past 30 years and another think it's a classic vintage? Is Vinous shilling? Has Parker lost it?
I think that what has happened to wine criticism is that it has splintered. There is no longer one holy diety who gives wines a score that is considered their absolute measure of quality.

Instead, there are a number of critics some of who specialize in wine regions (like Allen Meadows with Burghound) and others of whom don't try to be terribly objective but rate wines on their subjective views of how wines should taste (like John Gilman of A View from the Cellar). There are quite a number of wine newletters and of wine blogs.

It might help if you state the types of wines you like and your favorite wine regions (I assume that it includes Bordeaux, but more traditional Bordeaux or more modern styled wines) and people can try to better tailor their recommendations to the wines you like rather than the wines they like.

Not a wine newsletter, but if you want to get back into current wine start listening to these. http://illdrinktothatpod.com/
Hey Howard,

OK, you asked...

Over half of my cellar is Bordeaux. I favor Left Bank over Right as a general rule -- but I like it all. I am anti-over-the-top as a general rule, but I break that rule all the time. For example, I like really ripe Grenache from CdP, Beausejour Duffau, and Troplong Mondot. I love wines like 1996 Leoville Barton (had one last night and it was singing). I'm increasingly into Nebbiolo and have a real soft spot for Cru Beaujolais, Valle d'Aosta, Loire Cab Franc, and sleeper Bordeaux from top vintages. Some of my favorite producers are (often for personal reasons) JL Chave, Jamet, Beaucastel, Bosquet des Papes, Bernard Baudry, Climens, anything with Leoville or Pichon on the label, Grand Puy Lacoste, Montrose, Rauzan Segla, Domaine de Chevalier, Trotanoy, VCC, Felsina, Dominus, and Philip Togni, Ritchie Creek, Chappellet PH, Mount Eden and Ridge. For whites I am into Chablis, Sancerre, Mountlois and Vouvray, Muscadet, Sauvennieres, Jura (Chards), Graves, German and Alsacian rieslings, Verdicchio, Albarino, Godello, Fino and Manzanillas, Dog Point NZ SB... the list goes on for white. I'm generally not a fan of CA Chard, though there are exceptions. I have decided that I can't afford to like Burgundy. I hate anything that speaks of carnivals or generally any red wines that might be good on icecream. I'm more tolerant than most of fierce tannins and wines that taste like rocks. I favor wines made by a families over wines made by conglomerates -- but you can see obvious contradictions among my favorites, particularly in Bordeaux.

And -- I absolutely love listening to Levi Dalton's podcast. I'd like to meet him and thank him someday. Most episodes are like a mini-vacation on my commute to work. I especially like what he has done with the Piemontese producers.

Cheers,
Jim
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#37 Post by GregT » August 26th, 2018, 8:16 pm

Jim - I suppose you're right to some extent but don't forget that many people on this board also taste vast quantities of wine. If you're at all in the business, you taste a lot and if you are an importer/distributor you taste at least as many as the critics will because they're only tasting what you send them, whereas you're beating the bushes for new producers.

However, I tend to forget that a lot of people don't get to taste as much and consequently rely on others.

Even so, I'm not sure all the critics really know a lot more than many people here. Some do, but not all. If you live in Piedmont or Bordeaux or Rioja or Burgundy or Tuscany, or import wines from those regions, you're going to know a lot more about what's going on than someone who visits a few times a year and tastes the same producers each time, or who tastes primarily what's sent to his or her office.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#38 Post by Ian Sutton » August 27th, 2018, 4:27 am

J Dove wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 3:42 pm
I was a prolific poster in the mid-90s and I know I had a lot of stupid opinions that have not stood the test of time.
Hi Jim
You're in no way compelled to answer this, but I'm intrigued by your comment above.

Were those:
- Your tastes at the time, which have changed as you tasted more?
- Your tastes at the time, which as you've read more you've changed your perspective?
- Repeating the advice of others, which you've since realised you don't agree with?
- Something else?
- Combination of the above?

For my own part, although it was useful as a confidence builder to focus on Aussie, then NZ, then Italy and so on, slowly building my confidence and experience, I relied too heavily on the Aussie critics. Their love of warm climate South Australian reds does not mirror my own preference for the wines of the cooler areas of the country (which I took a while to realise). Thankfully I built the contents of my cellar up relatively slowly, but had I raced into it, I'd have cases of McLaren Vale and Barossa Shiraz that I now realise is at best an occasional drink for me (c. 1 bottle per year).

Luckily by the time I moved onto Italy, I'd still read critical opinion, but my purchases were more strongly guided by what I'd tried and enjoyed. Hence I rarely have any Brunello di Montalcino in the cellar, but will have other Sangiovese based wines (Chianti, Sangiovese di Romagna, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano), all of which are awarded typically lower scores by critics, and also priced lower. Even if the prices were the same, I'd still be buying what I do now, as I prefer it to Brunello. [good.gif] to the critics, as they've made my preferred drinking cheaper [dance-clap.gif]

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Ian
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#39 Post by Howard Cooper » August 27th, 2018, 5:04 am

J Dove wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 5:42 pm

I think that what has happened to wine criticism is that it has splintered. There is no longer one holy diety who gives wines a score that is considered their absolute measure of quality.

Instead, there are a number of critics some of who specialize in wine regions (like Allen Meadows with Burghound) and others of whom don't try to be terribly objective but rate wines on their subjective views of how wines should taste (like John Gilman of A View from the Cellar). There are quite a number of wine newletters and of wine blogs.

It might help if you state the types of wines you like and your favorite wine regions (I assume that it includes Bordeaux, but more traditional Bordeaux or more modern styled wines) and people can try to better tailor their recommendations to the wines you like rather than the wines they like.

Not a wine newsletter, but if you want to get back into current wine start listening to these. http://illdrinktothatpod.com/
Hey Howard,

OK, you asked...

Over half of my cellar is Bordeaux. I favor Left Bank over Right as a general rule -- but I like it all. I am anti-over-the-top as a general rule, but I break that rule all the time. For example, I like really ripe Grenache from CdP, Beausejour Duffau, and Troplong Mondot. I love wines like 1996 Leoville Barton (had one last night and it was singing). I'm increasingly into Nebbiolo and have a real soft spot for Cru Beaujolais, Valle d'Aosta, Loire Cab Franc, and sleeper Bordeaux from top vintages. Some of my favorite producers are (often for personal reasons) JL Chave, Jamet, Beaucastel, Bosquet des Papes, Bernard Baudry, Climens, anything with Leoville or Pichon on the label, Grand Puy Lacoste, Montrose, Rauzan Segla, Domaine de Chevalier, Trotanoy, VCC, Felsina, Dominus, and Philip Togni, Ritchie Creek, Chappellet PH, Mount Eden and Ridge. For whites I am into Chablis, Sancerre, Mountlois and Vouvray, Muscadet, Sauvennieres, Jura (Chards), Graves, German and Alsacian rieslings, Verdicchio, Albarino, Godello, Fino and Manzanillas, Dog Point NZ SB... the list goes on for white. I'm generally not a fan of CA Chard, though there are exceptions. I have decided that I can't afford to like Burgundy. I hate anything that speaks of carnivals or generally any red wines that might be good on icecream. I'm more tolerant than most of fierce tannins and wines that taste like rocks. I favor wines made by a families over wines made by conglomerates -- but you can see obvious contradictions among my favorites, particularly in Bordeaux.

And -- I absolutely love listening to Levi Dalton's podcast. I'd like to meet him and thank him someday. Most episodes are like a mini-vacation on my commute to work. I especially like what he has done with the Piemontese producers.

Cheers,
Jim
[/quote]

Since you don't drink Burgundy, Burghound would not be for you. You might like Gilman as he would lead you to some wines you are not familiar with that you probably would like. My guess is that you would like the wines he likes but not necessarily dislike the wines he dislikes. So, it depends on whether you can take his criticism of favorites of yours in order to have information to explore new wines you would like.


My guess is that your favorite would be Vinous.


Experiment a bit. I think Vinous gives people a free trial period. I think John Gilman sends people a sample issue or so. Try a few out.
Howard

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#40 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 27th, 2018, 5:13 am

My own (limited) experience with John Gilman is that he is both iconoclastic and difficult to pigeon-hole. That is both good and bad. It means he will not follow the crowd and will occasionally write scathing (and entertaining) reviews of otherwise highly regarded wines, which is to his credit, I think. I should also say that in a very few exchanges we have had he has been extremely forthcoming and engaging. I'd like to have a meal with him and talk about wines.

But I have a great deal of difficulty getting a bead on his palate. If everyone else love a wine (critics and the unwashed masses on CT) and he gives it a 79 and blasts it, well, he is entitled to his own judgment and good for him, but it is hard to see how that view could be useful as a buying guide.

So I generally find him interesting but not terribly useful.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#41 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 27th, 2018, 5:29 am

Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 5:13 am
If everyone else love a wine (critics and the unwashed masses on CT) and he gives it a 79 and blasts it, well, he is entitled to his own judgment and good for him, but it is hard to see how that view could be useful as a buying guide.

So I generally find him interesting but not terribly useful.
Some might posit, that is exactly what makes him useful. Using Pavie as an example, a wine he blasts, the normal, so-called objective reviewer gives it the same score as, say, a Lafite. The wines could not be more dramatically different. For someone with a palate more similar to Gilman, it is doubtful that the Pavie would appeal, while the Lafite would. Oftentimes it's even hard to tell the difference in styles when you read the critics' reviews on some wines (i.e., whether it is modern, universal or classic). The problem, of course, that it takes time and experimentation to figure out whether Gillman's palate aligns with your palate. I have found my palate correlates fairly well with him on Loire, Riesling and Bordeaux.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#42 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 27th, 2018, 5:40 am

Robert.A.Jr. wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 5:29 am
Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 5:13 am
If everyone else love a wine (critics and the unwashed masses on CT) and he gives it a 79 and blasts it, well, he is entitled to his own judgment and good for him, but it is hard to see how that view could be useful as a buying guide.

So I generally find him interesting but not terribly useful.
Some might posit, that is exactly what makes him useful. Using Pavie as an example, a wine he blasts, the normal, so-called objective reviewer gives it the same score as, say, a Lafite. The wines could not be more dramatically different. For someone with a palate more similar to Gilman, it is doubtful that the Pavie would appeal, while the Lafite would. Oftentimes it's even hard to tell the difference in styles when you read the critics' reviews on some wines (i.e., whether it is modern, universal or classic). The problem, of course, that it takes time and experimentation to figure out whether Gillman's palate aligns with your palate. I have found my palate correlates fairly well with him on Loire, Riesling and Bordeaux.
Yeah, but I can't really say that Gillamn falls neatly into the AFWE category, and he departs from other critics who I'd put in that group on enough wines to make him inscrutable to me. Again, this is not a criticism at all, just an observation.

When I was young and carefree, and subscribing to wine periodicals, it was primarily as a buying guide for wines I might want to buy. A Gillman review that is an outlier would not really tell me much of use. I suppose if he really trashed it, it might convince me to look elsewhere, even if others were favorable, but the utility of his views, to me, was limited. When buying futures (which again was a primary reason I used to subscribe) I would typically look for consensus. If Jancis and Martin and Parker all loved a wine, and the verbiage was similar, I felt pretty safe. I never knew where to fit JG into that calculus because he could detest a wine all of the others loved.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#43 Post by Robert.A.Jr. » August 27th, 2018, 6:06 am

That triangulation approach for Bordeaux worked for me as well, in addition to the history many of us have with the well-known Chateaux.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#44 Post by Jörgen Lindström Carlvik » August 27th, 2018, 6:52 am

[/quote]William is an excellent writer and taster. His depth is well beyond Burgundy, too.
[/quote]

I agree. And when his WA-scores on SQN were recently published, the Ebob community finally made a strong comeback:) Haven't seen so much interaction in years.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#45 Post by Howard Cooper » August 27th, 2018, 7:45 am

Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 5:13 am
My own (limited) experience with John Gilman is that he is both iconoclastic and difficult to pigeon-hole. That is both good and bad. It means he will not follow the crowd and will occasionally write scathing (and entertaining) reviews of otherwise highly regarded wines, which is to his credit, I think. I should also say that in a very few exchanges we have had he has been extremely forthcoming and engaging. I'd like to have a meal with him and talk about wines.

But I have a great deal of difficulty getting a bead on his palate. If everyone else love a wine (critics and the unwashed masses on CT) and he gives it a 79 and blasts it, well, he is entitled to his own judgment and good for him, but it is hard to see how that view could be useful as a buying guide.

So I generally find him interesting but not terribly useful.
As I said, I like John’s work. I disagree that John is not useful. While I might like wines he rates poorly, with some notable exceptions, I generally like wines he rates highly. So, I can buy wines he recommends confidently. Also, he differentiates between wines made in a traditional style from wines made in a more modern style so that I know what to expect from a producer. I have, for example, found this very useful in identifying California wines to try. You cannot get that from just looking at points from a reviewer who reviews wines “objectively, whatever that means. There is more to wine reviews than how many points a critic gives a wines.

Now, if you don’t like the same style of wines John likes I agree his newsletter is useless. This may be Neal’s issue with him. But if you want interesting wines made in a more traditional style John makes it easier to identify such wines.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#46 Post by Gary York » August 27th, 2018, 7:46 am

Chris - If you read the comments here you will find that I am not the only one that looks at the WA as a joke. And they have earned their position at the bottom through a number of disastrous decisions that are too numerous to mention. I don't know anyone that doesn't consider Vinous superior to the WA. Not saying that they don't exist, just that I don't know of any. It is true that I mostly focus on Italian and no one does that better than Galloni and D' Agata, my apologies to Klapp, but there is enough coverage to keep in touch with other areas. Tanzer offers good info on other areas in France with a bit of balance and restraint that is fairly rare in wine criticism today. And with the addition of NM, that I really don't care for, it is a pretty formidable team at Vinous. Add in Schildknecht and Raynolds with a board full of passionate, dedicated and connected drinkers and it is a solid source on wine. Not so much at WA.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#47 Post by mark meyer » August 27th, 2018, 9:23 am

Jim

Good to see you back in the wine board mode-Rob G had seemed to imply you had begun to find wine blasé a few yrs ago.

You still have some Ritchie Creek in your cellar-I am down to my last 6 or less.


Best to Rasha.

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#48 Post by John Morris » August 27th, 2018, 9:28 am

Peter Panzica wrote:
August 25th, 2018, 1:08 pm
John love the new avatar btw. I was lucky enough to purchase an artist label from B Mascarello when I was there. They are beautiful labels by the man himself.
Glad you like it. I was given mine by Bartolo himself in 1996. His mobility was quite impaired at the time, so we spoke in his office. On his desk were felt pens and a bunch of labels he was drawing on. And it's a real, baby grape leaf.
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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#49 Post by John Morris » August 27th, 2018, 9:31 am

Howard Cooper wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 7:45 am
Neal.Mollen wrote:
August 27th, 2018, 5:13 am
My own (limited) experience with John Gilman is that he is both iconoclastic and difficult to pigeon-hole. That is both good and bad. It means he will not follow the crowd and will occasionally write scathing (and entertaining) reviews of otherwise highly regarded wines, which is to his credit, I think. I should also say that in a very few exchanges we have had he has been extremely forthcoming and engaging. I'd like to have a meal with him and talk about wines.

But I have a great deal of difficulty getting a bead on his palate. If everyone else love a wine (critics and the unwashed masses on CT) and he gives it a 79 and blasts it, well, he is entitled to his own judgment and good for him, but it is hard to see how that view could be useful as a buying guide.

So I generally find him interesting but not terribly useful.
As I said, I like John’s work. I disagree that John is not useful. While I might like wines he rates poorly, with some notable exceptions, I generally like wines he rates highly. So, I can buy wines he recommends confidently. Also, he differentiates between wines made in a traditional style from wines made in a more modern style so that I know what to expect from a producer. I have, for example, found this very useful in identifying California wines to try. You cannot get that from just looking at points from a reviewer who reviews wines “objectively, whatever that means. There is more to wine reviews than how many points a critic gives a wines.

Now, if you don’t like the same style of wines John likes I agree his newsletter is useless. This may be Neal’s issue with him. But if you want interesting wines made in a more traditional style John makes it easier to identify such wines.
John is definitely out on the left wing when it comes to acid, and he's not afraid to rate highly a wine that is hard to drink now (high tannin, high acid, closed) but which he thinks has great potential. But he's totally uncompromised and delightfully opinionated -- which is refreshing in the current environment.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

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Re: What happened to Robert Parker? State of Wine Criticism in 2018

#50 Post by John Morris » August 27th, 2018, 9:36 am

J Dove wrote:
August 26th, 2018, 3:42 pm
There's a big difference between professional critics and people like us. People like Tanzer or Parker or d'Igata or (insert your preferred aligned critic) taste through vast quantities of wines we can't afford to sample, often in a setting that allows for comparisons that are impossible to make for normal enthusiasts. If they go through 40 or 50 Northern Medocs in a day, the better examples stand out.
They're are lots of things that professionals can bring to the table, as you say -- historical perspective, insights into the producers -- that are hard to accumulate until you taste full time.

But tasting 40-50 wines a day is not one of those things. I noticed a sharp drop off in my correlation with Parker's scores in the early 90s when he began routinely tasting 50-75 wines (as friends in the trade informed me). In those contexts, it's not necessarily the better examples that stand out; it's the most powerful. And, as someone else said, when you taste so many wines, you have no ability to gauge them over time -- even half an hour or an hour -- which is really important. In that context, people just sniff, taste and spit, going down a line.

Moreover, it's impossible not to be affected by the alcohol when you taste that many wines at once, even if you're trying to spit religiously. People in the trade will tell you that, even if they have to do it sometimes.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

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