Is the Parkerization of Bordeaux a thing of the past?

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Harpers posted an article on their website on 7th November about Robert Parker, who says that his influence is ‘on the wane’.  Few could have predicted the influence that one man could have had on the wine industry, but Parker is always quick to maintain that he is merely a fortunate man who loves wine and has been blessed with a great opportunity – always playing down his role in the structure of the market.


robert parker

It is clear that Parker likes to disassociate himself with the overinflated prices, as you can imagine he would.  As a devoted consumer of wine, it was never his desire to see prices spiral out of control, taking them well beyond the reaches of other, less privileged, wine lovers.

Although he could never have known just how important his taste buds would become in the annual pricing structure of the world’s most expensive wines, Parker should not try to play down his role, and nor should he feel guilty about it.

The fact that so much importance was placed on his annual evaluation is not Parker’s fault – he has a gifted palate that has remained unsurpassed for his entire career.  Other gifted writers offered exceptional volumes about Bordeaux, most notably David Peppercorn MW, but few have tried to steal Parker’s crown and thus bear the responsibility of being The One who made prices rise year after year.

Sometimes, in the wine trade, we are so busy thinking of Parker as an institution, and an authority, that we forget that he is first and foremost a wine enthusiast.  He turned his back on a successful law career in order to devote his life to his passion.  He has remained at the top of his game for over 30 years, his influence extending far beyond Bordeaux, as later in his career he began to broaden his own horizons and look at the Rhone, America and Australia, changing the fortunes of little-known winemakers all over the world.

However we feel about the price explosion, either as consumers or fine wine investors, we have an awful lot to thank Robert Parker for, and not least the extraordinary database of tasting notes he has provided us with.  No one has tasted so expansively year on year, or is so in touch with the nuances of what makes each wine so unique and special.  Parker laments that his career is coming to an end at a time when there are so many exciting wines emerging from parts of the world that he has yet to fully explore.  Interestingly, Parker does not think that there will be a single successor to his crown, because of the internet and the abundance of quality wine critics and tasters, he does not believe that ‘the perfect storm’ in which an individual could happen to rise to such a position of influence could never happen again.  Rather, there will be individuals that are respected for their influence in niche areas across the world, meaning that no one will have to bear the responsibility that Parker has nobly resisted for much of his career for influencing prices to become out of touch with the market.  And let’s face it, with all the criticism surrounding Parkerization, who would really want to take over from him?

You can read the Harpers article here