12×75.com can exclusively reveal that the great Robert Parker has announced his retirement. In a brief statement that few would have expected, Parker has vowed that this year’s visit to Bordeaux will be his last, and he will be retiring from his role as a professional wine critic at the end of 2013.
Parker will also be stepping down from his role at the publication he founded in 1978, The Wine Advocate, in order to concentrate on personal projects. A source close to Parker revealed exclusively to 12×75.com, “Robert’s life has revolved around wine for so many years, he wants to kick back and relax while he still can, maybe enjoy a glass of Claret without the world waiting to hear what he says about it. He wants to spend time with the family and maybe write a book that’s not about wine.”
Parker’s decision will surprise many of his critics, who did not believe he would be stepping down any time soon. Although there might be some relief for those who have felt he has had a negative impact on the industry, his wisdom will be greatly missed by producers whose futures he has secured with glowing reports on their wines.
The announcement comes at a time when the ‘Parkerisation’ debate has become more prolific – the surge of interest in fine wines from the Far East has taken over the industry’s headlines. Seldom far from controversy, Parker has divided opinions throughout his career. Claims about Parker were diverse, for example, some accused producers in Bordeaux of making wines just to please his palate, in order to secure a high score. Many felt that this would lead to the homogenisation of Bordeaux, with winemakers favouring Cabernet based wines that were high in alcohol and extraction in order to meet with Parker’s approval.
As Parker’s career has progressed, the question on everyone’s lips has been, who will succeed him? It is true that there is no obvious person to fill his shoes. Parker himself has previously said that he felt the role would be best fulfilled by a group rather than an individual. There are many gifted MWs who could undoubtedly rise to the challenge and who already command a great deal of respect, but who would want to receive the criticism that Parker so regularly takes on the chin?
We at 12×75.com were deeply sorry to hear the news, although we wish Mr Parker all the very best for his retirement. We hope that he can enjoy some wine and great food in peace and not even be tempted to score the wine or write a tasting note. Love him or hate him, Parker is the most influential critic of his time, and whether or not we agree with his scores, his tasting notes are truly extraordinary. Needless to say, the wine industry will miss one of its greatest personalities and most knowledgeable tasters.
And in case you hadn’t guessed already, this is an April Fool’s day gag. Did you really think we would be the first to find out that Robert Parker had retired?! As far as we know, the big man will be doing his Bordeaux rounds as usual, as well as keeping us entertained on Twitter and eating and drinking his way around the world for many more years to come. And that’s why we love him. Gotcha!
NOTE: We have been trying to secure an interview with Robert Parker for a long time now (with not much luck). The above blog was written last year and was intended to be published on 1st April 2012. Before publishing, and out of respect, we sent Parker’s office a copy of the above. The word came back that publishing this would not help our chances of securing that interview. And so I forgot that I wrote this and filed it away.
But with all the changes that have happened with Robert Parker & The Wine Advocate since last year, I figured what the hell. Would have been far funnier if I had actually gone ahead and published this last year?!?! My bad !