ROBERT PARKER A LEGEND OF THE CRITIC
Parker’s story is that of an American destiny. Until he was 21, he swears by Coca-Cola. During a stay in France to visit his girlfriend in Strasbourg, he ordered a glass of pinot gris, then cheaper than a glass of Coca.It is for him a revelation. A click. He takes a passion for wine and becomes critical.
In parallel with his profession as a lawyer, he returns every summer to France to explore the vineyards and learn the art of tasting. Endowed with exceptional talent, he began to share his criticisms by email before creating a magazine, The Wine Advocate, in 1978, and then devoting himself entirely to it from 1984.
Like all of us, Parker has his own taste. At the rate of 10,000 wines tasted per year, Parker’s wine probably covers a wider range.
He particularly appreciates tannic red wines, powerful and woody. It is therefore natural that his best reviews have highlighted the wines of Bordeaux (his region of choice, which counts nearly 100 wines among the 500 rated 100/100*), of the Côte du Rhône (The appellations Château Neuf du pape, Hermitage and Côte Rotie alone represent 120 of the 500 wines rated 100/100*) and Californian wines (134 wines rated 100/100*).
By way of comparison, the wines of Burgundy total only 8 wines rated 100/100, as much as the Italian wines, all appellations combined! New Zealand and its legendary Sauvignons Blancs are not represented. And for good reason: 85% of the wines rated 100/100 are red wines.
But here, an opinion does not make a truth, if there is one. The Parker taste is subjective. The strict notation of certain wines (such as those of the Pays de la Loire for example) does not mean that they are bad. The fact that Parker doesn’t like them doesn’t mean you won’t like them, since your tastes may be different.
The dominant influence of Parker’s critics thus raises the question of the uniformization of tastes.
Soon, The Wine Advocate becomes a reference overseas.THE reference.At its peak of notoriety, it has up to 50,000 subscribers, each paying $75 for the 6 annual publications.
Robert Parker and his team publish their tasting notes, via an innovative scoring system created by Parker himself. The rating system of 100, which takes into account 5 criteria: the dress, the bouquet, the complexity and the length in mouth and the aging potential:
From 50 to 59, the wine is described as unacceptable.It has a gross defect
From 60 to 69, the wine is medium and has defects
From 70 to 79, the wine is pleasant but lacks complexity
From 80 to 89, the wine is very good, fine, complex and balanced
From 90 to 95, the wine is excellent and has a great complexity
From 96 to 100, wine is extraordinary from every point of view
Its influence is such that very quickly, American consumers start buying only Parker. A good note from Parker and the vintage is sold magically.Prices are soaring.
So much so that some producers decide to stick to Parker’s taste.Forgetting their terroir, their uniqueness and their own taste, they choose to accelerate their fortune by producing Parker. Parker loves wooded wines?T hey rush on new oak barrels, which bring wooded tannins. Well dosed, these can be pleasant, but, used to the extreme, they crush the aromas specific to the terroir and vinified grape varieties.
It is in a movement of uniformity of taste that the monopoly of wine criticism granted to Robert Parker leads the wine industry.
To his credit, he also revolutionized oenological criticism by imposing the independence of critics vis-à-vis producers. Blind tasting is now a standard that everyone respects.
Discover our selection of Bordeaux :