New York Times Stinging Critique of Robert Parker’s Wine Dominance

Welcome.  I am “An Extreme and Useless Movement.”  And proud of it.


89 Points and loving it
89 Points and loving it

“If ripe wines are considered good, many California producers reasoned, those made from grapes brought to the brink of desiccation, to the peak of ripeness (or even a bit beyond), should taste even better. That logical leap has created a new American vernacular for wine, a dense, opaque fruitiness well suited to a nation of Pepsi drinkers.”


That is one of my favorite quotes from a rather explosive piece in the Sunday New York Times Magazine yesterday. If you missed it, here is a link, but here are some other great quotes:


“Are the best wines the equivalent of Hollywood blockbusters or art-house films? And who gets to decide?”


“Ten wines, deemed perfect or near-perfect by Wine Advocate reviewers and validated by Parker’s palate, were poured for some 500 attendees in a room with the majesty of a Gothic cathedral. Despite the absence of food of any kind, not even the crackers or bread often served at such functions to neutralize the flavor of one wine before another is sampled, those attending paid the equivalent of $700 to taste them.”


The article went on at length to talk about diversity in wine growing techniques, that “marginal” group that likes wine with food (as opposed to a dais) and the idea that there is more than one wine palate in the world.


And here they quote Parker’s rebuttal, which is sad, desperate, defensive and a little pathetic:


“After 35 years I had thought there was no longer room for revisionist history, outright distortion, deception and clever scams… The jihadist movements of non-sulphured wines, green, under-ripe wines, low alcohol, insipid stuff promoted by the anti-pleasure police and neo-anti-alcohol proponents has run its course as another extreme and useless movement few care about.”


This blog isn’t deliberately political nor is it ever meant to be didactic. We don’t hate Parker, he’s rather brilliant, what we hate is the point system and how the point system has nothing to do with how millions of people enjoy wine, to say nothing of how the point system is more about points than wine, and how Parker steadfastly refuses to understand that concept. Those concepts.  We enjoy wine with food and the 89 points of one bottle may be ten times better than the 90 points he accords to another. Plus, as Hugh Johnson has noted, what sort of cretin creates a point system that begins at 84 and ends (most of the time) at 94? Alternatively, we don’t love the new wine zealots; they look in some way just like an alternative Parker. But we do love much of their message, particularly the abandonment of sameness, of the over-bearing predominance of high alcohol and of virtually all high pointers fitting a pre-determined expectation. But most of all, we LOVE being labelled as just another extreme and useless movement.–not reserved yet. Get in while the going is good.

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