People in the wine business have a love/hate relationship with Robert Parker.
He’s the man behind the highly popular newsletter, “The Wine Advocate,” a pioneer in assessing wines with both words and numbers. There is no more controversial topic in the wine world than Parker’s 100-point rating system—a system that has been adopted by many others, including the Vinesse Tasting Panel.
Some vintners hate the system because it’s so subjective. Others love it because it helps sell wine. Every few years, the debate will ignite anew as someone from the winemaking profession attacks it with great passion.
But the system, fair or not, endures because it is so easy to understand. Only when school teachers stop using the 100-point system for grading are we likely to see it abandoned for assessing wine.
Now, the love/hate relationship is focused, perhaps only briefly, on the “love” side, as Parker has been elected to the Vintners Hall of Fame. We conclude our week-long look at the Class of 2013 with this profile of Parker, provided by Balzac Communications.
Robert Parker is not only the most powerful critic in the history of wine, but arguably the most powerful critic in any field in his era, with the ability to make the fortunes of obscure wineries overnight with just a paragraph in his newsletter.
Parker has been a tremendous, long-standing booster of California wine, and his attention has unquestionably been a boon for the California wine industry.
Parker’s early-career criticisms of California wines that were poor attempts to copy French styles encouraged the entire industry to improve its appeal. Unlike other critics, Parker would not politely ignore badly made wines from big-name wineries. His single-minded focus on the taste of wines rewarded wineries that improved their hygiene and technology.
Parker has always been a champion of small wineries, and his tendency against holding one region above another has helped California wines to compete on the world stage.
In a field where many critics work on both sides of the business, his personal ethics have withstood years of intense scrutiny. Powerful, fair and honest, Robert Parker has been a truly great critic and an undeniably net positive influence on California wine.
The official induction of the 2013 Vintners Hall of Fame honorees will take place on February 18, 2013 at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California, as part of the college’s 7th annual Vintners Hall of Fame Induction Celebration.