But the knockers have failed over the years to turf this man off his pedestal – collectors are scrabbling to buy the 2009 Bordeaux ‘en primeur’ at prices completely unheard of (Lafite is now £13500 per case!), many on the strength of Parker’s lavish praise and high scores. It is said that not only is he the Emperor of wine critics, he is the most successful critic in any field of all time. Sure, theatre critics in London or New York can close a play locally with a stinker of a review but uncle Bob Parker’s critical reach and market-making power is truly global.
My own view re Parker has been quite ambivalent over the years. Undoubtedly he has been hugely positive for the Rhone region I know and love. Parker is a huge fan and has pushed the region to a critical level only just below Bordeaux and Burgundy. However, I confess I was recently quite shocked when reading his biography (the excellent The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy) to come across the story of the Californian consultancy – Leo McCloskey’s ‘Enologix’- which claims to have identified the 84 chemical constituents of a wine that, combined in a certain formula, are associated with the wines Parker scores 95-100. All their clients, mainly boutique Napa valley wineries, have to do is submit samples to this consultancy where the scientists and mathematicians will play with something resembling a graphic equaliser (remember those?) before the necessary viticultural or vinification tweaks are recommended. Heh presto, vintage later, a Parker-pleasing wine blend! And big bucks, no doubt, to follow. Now that is more than a tad worrying I think you’ll agree.
Whistler readers who fancy trying a Parker 100 pointer to see what the fuss is all about will need to think about selling a few family heirlooms. Probably better value than most would be from my region, Chateauneuf du Pape producer Chateau Beaucastel’s special cuvee ‘Hommage à Jacques Perrin’, the 1998 vintage, available from Turville Valley Wines in Buckinghamshire at £250 per bottle.
Philip Reddaway runs La Madelene Rhone Wine Holidays. www.rhonewineholidays.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories: Andrew Polmear