Parker gives up en primeurs

26 February, 2015

Robert Parker, probably the world’s most influential wine critic, has announced that he is giving up tasting and judging Bordeaux en primeur wines.

At a press briefing in London, he said that the English wine writer, Neal Martin who looks after Burgundy, Oregon, South Africa, Tokaji and Madeira for Wine Advocate, would take over the assessing of Bordeaux’s en primeur wines.

Surrounded by the Wine Advocate team with editor-in-chief, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Parker confirmed he was not retiring and would retain evaluating bottled Bordeaux plus Napa Valley wines from California.

About tasting Bordeaux wines from the barrel, he said: “It’s exhausting and there is a lot of pressure.”

Martin who has judged wines for Wine Advocate since 2006 including Bordeaux, commented: “I’m looking to make it maybe a little funkier. It should be fun. Our writing should be enjoyable.”

Parker, a former lawyer launched Wine Advocate in 1978. Asked how he came to be the most important wine critic in the world coining the phrase ‘Parkerised’ wines, he replied: “I guess I came along at the right time and the right place. As a lawyer I was very disciplined and very focused.”

He derided a wine critic on the New York Times who once trashed a vintage in Burgundy based on tasting one wine.

He criticised inflated prices for Bordeaux fine wines. “There are three unsold vintages, 2011, 12 and 13. They (Bordeaux) have lost share in the US market and Bordeaux is disappearing off wine lists. Bordeaux needs more realistic prices.”

He also criticised the emphasis on ‘Parker points’ without referring to the tasting notes. People selling tasted wines often ‘lift’ the 90+ scores to inflate prices and sell their wines.

“There is an excessive reference to scores. The taste is the most important thing so everything has a tasting note,” said Parker.

Apparently wine merchants who flagrantly flout Wine Advocate’s copyright are called and asked to take out a subscription.

Perrotti-Brown said: “We rely on subscriptions to support our business model. We pay our reviewers a premium to work for us. Everything we write is copyrighted. If people replicate, they should take a subscription. I do not think we are asking a lot if they are using our tastings notes to sell wines.”

Wine Advocate is now owned by a Singapore-based group, although Parker remains a shareholder. The whole editorial team is in London to conduct tastings for subscribers and to launch a lifestyle magazine orientated around wine but featuring food, travel and lifestyle.

Parker said in 1978 he tasted and reviewed 300 wines. Last year the team produced 29,000 tasting notes.

He said: “The team shares the same philosophy (as I) and I think the last two years have been the best ever. We look at the big picture. In 50 years Wine Advocate will be completely different.”

The Wine Advocate team

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, editor-in-chief, based in Singapore – Australia and New Zealand

Jeb Dunnuck - Rhône, Southern France, Corsica, California south of Santa Cruz mountains and Washington State

Luis Gutiérrez – Spain, Chile and Argentina

Monica Larner - Italy

Neal Martin - Bordeaux, Burgundy, Oregon, South Africa, Tokaji and Madeira

Stephen Reinhardt Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Alsace and Champagne

David Schildknecht - Germany, Austria, Eastern Europe, America’s east & Midwest, Alsace, Burgundy, Loire, Languedoc-Roussillon, Champagne, New Zealand, South Africa

Mark Squires - Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Cyprus, Portugal.

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