Criticizing the Wine Critics
Famous critics wield enormous power in the wine industry. Luminaries like Robert Parker can literally make or break a wine based on their professional opinion.
Parker burst onto the international wine scene when he strongly advocated purchasing Bordeaux from the 1982 vintage. More traditional critics dismissed this year as too fruit forward, but apparently that was exactly what the New World wine consumer was looking for. 1982 Bordeaux remains one of the most expensive years from that era.
He certainly struck a chord with wine drinkers who were baffled by discussions of terroir and “pencil shaving” flavors. Instead, they wanted wines that had overt fruit flavors, and Parker pointed these out by rating them highly on his 100 point scale.
> But in the process, the notion of finesse in the New World was pretty much thrown out the window by most producers. Suddenly everyone was trying to please the Parker palate.
The 100 point scale has always baffled me. Of course scores are correlated with quality, but I have no idea what each point represents and, put bluntly, it seems like an objective façade. But it certainly moves product, and consumers will quickly turn their nose up at a wine that scored a few less “points” than another. It seems like a placebo effect run amok.
I find it strange that average palates take their advice from rare, exceptional ones regarding minute details that they can’t perceive. Wine cannot be explained by one person; it is the give and take, and interaction with others that I have always found most helpful. Thankfully, the status quo is slowly changing, largely because of the blogosphere and community based wine websites.
This can be attributed to the development of wide scale user interaction. The casual consumer can now see what other wine lovers, just like themselves, think about a wine. Although this phenomenon has not reached the main stream, it is slowly building momentum. And as it does, the public is going to be less interested in a single person’s opinion, and more concerned with everyone’s.