It’s a bittersweet loss for many, as Robert Parker Jr. has announced his tire-bouchon is being passed to a respected associate in the rating of California wines. There is no doubt in my mind that Robert Parker has been THE most influential wine critic of our time. The Anton Ego of wine if you will, who was modeled after Francois Simon Le Figaro, a feared restaurant critic. Robert Parker is now probably enjoying ratatouille or boeuf bourguinion with Remy as his chef. Bon appetit!
He created the 100-point system that although I don’t necessarily agree with today, what cannot be denied was the influence this system had on an industry with no previous neutral or 3rd party ratings. In a word, huge. The flaws in the system were mainly that others would come up with a similar scale with a different interpretation. Hence, the confused consumer as the very same wine is being portrayed as a 82, 88 and 92. Robert Parker was both respected and feared by winemakers all over the world, as he became the first true “authority” in a wine rating world. I always respected that he did not turn into selling advertising for $40k a page as others have done, but truly stuck with what was important – the wine. Not once did I think Robert Parker was strictly money-motivated and in this day in age, which speaks well of his persona. In a word, he had passion for what he did – like it or not.
For those of you that are basketball fans, I see Robert Parker as being the Chick Hearn of Wine. Chick Hearn was the Lakers’ play-by-play announcer from November, 1965 and not missing a single game (that would be 3,338 total) until health problems forced him to miss. He studied and researched the game, had dinner with the players’ families, but more importantly, called it as he saw it and never favored allegiance to the Lakers over reality and fairness. He was a constant student of the game. Words like “slam dunk“, “air ball” , “garbage time” all belonged to Chick and are now household words used by all.
Thanks for your contributions, Mr. Parker!