Parker Please Don’t Go

Parker Please Don’t Go

Plenty of people love to hate Robert Parker, but Oliver Styles warns that we’ll be lost without him.
Posted Monday, 02-Oct-2017

It will no doubt come as some surprise to the likes of Jancis Robinson, Allen Meadows, James Suckling, Michel Bettane, Steven Spurrier, et al. to learn that, according to French broadsheet Le Monde, wine criticism has diversified since Robert Parker’s “retirement”.

One might wonder what those luminaries were doing in the interim? Taking a form of Tennis Court Oath in the carpark of Château Margaux? Examining their fingernails while Parker was hitting home runs and slurping the last of his milkshake?

Of course not. For decades scores of palates have been rating wines and publishing their thoughts. To suggest that, with Parker taking a back seat, wine critics have starting popping up like botrytis in a tropical rain event is disingenuous to say the least.

Now, anyone who reads the Le Monde article in French will know that I’m being a little unfair with my translation, but the point still stands: the world of wine is apparently becoming more diverse. And I’ll be the first one to praise this. The more talk there is of wine and the more discussion there is of wine, the better.

But let’s also be honest here. It isn’t necessarily Parker that’s driving this. It is the people who follow him casting out as he starts to take a back seat. Ironically – and Parker was always the first to point this out when people complained about his dominant influence – the unilateral nature of his power was only due to his followers; his clout was his readership. Had The Wine Advocate’s subscription numbers been the same as the San Diego Padre’s runs tally in 2017, we would not have given two Malcolms (“Malcolm Gluck” – UK wine trade rhyming slang) for the man from Maryland’s opinion at En Primeur. So it’s worth remembering that the diversity of opinion isn’t necessarily occurring at the level of the critics, it’s occurring at the level of the wine lover.

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UK Agora
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