Robert M. Parker: The only wine critic to invite on board
by Jonathan Ray
Robert M. Parker is the wine expert’s wine expert and he’s taking his knowledge on a world tour. Catch him while you can, says Jonathan Ray.
He would be the perfect guest on any superyacht and now’s the time to invite him. Robert M Parker, the world’s most influential wine critic, is on his first grand tour, travelling the globe alongside the review team of The Wine Advocate, the magazine he founded in the 1970s.
Imagine bobbing at anchor on the French Riviera as Uncle Bob critiques your ocean-going cellar and superyacht wine storing system, explaining what should be drunk when, and which of your wines might have his coveted 100-point status.
“Robert Parker has probably done more than anyone else in the industry to make producers think about what they’re doing,” says David Roberts MW, of wine merchant Goedhuis & Co. “Serious estates can no longer simply rely on their historical standing and past reputation.”
Parker, a former lawyer whose nose and palate, it is said, are insured for £1 million, has had an effect on Bordeaux, in particular. His critics, though, complain that winemakers are encouraged to produce wines in a certain “Parker” style, to gain high marks from him. Parker has always said that his scoring system is not a true judge on its own of quality and needs to be used in conjunction with his notes.
At the very least, it is a system that means anyone with even the vaguest understanding of wine can easily grasp whether a wine is judged to be good or not.
He is extraordinarily consistent, famously impartial and his reviews are eagerly awaited by consumers each vintage and nervously anticipated by producers, who stand to make or lose small fortunes depending on how their wines are rated. Nobody sells wine like Parker.
But, as Simon Berry, chairman of wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, says: “He has never, as far as I know, claimed to be possessed of papal infallibility. His opinions are his own and if others choose to take them as gospel truths that’s their problem, not his.”
It’s hard to overstate Robert Parker’s influence. He might not quite be the force he once was – he has sold his website, erobertparker.com, to Singapore investors and the 100-point system, of which he was the arch exponent, is now much imitated – but he remains a true colossus of the wine world.
He and his cohorts are presenting tastings and events around the world, including a stop in London to present a masterclass and a gala dinner, at which the great man will discuss and taste with his guests a number of his favourite wines.
Wines to be discussed at the masterclass include – I gather – the likes of 2011 Domaine Leroy Latricières-Chambertin, 2001 Masseto and 1982 Ch. Cos d’Estournel, while the 100-pointers will be represented by wines such as 2007 Colgin Cellars IX Estate and 1989 Ch. Haut-Brion.
See grandworldtour.com for more details.