Is Parker’s Influence Diminishing?

There have been a few recent articles in the wine press suggesting that Robert Parker’s influence is on the decline – like this one from The Drinks Business quoting figures by The Wine Investment Fund. It’s an interesting question that rears its head every year, perhaps more significantly this year since Parker has made it clear he is taking more of a back seat role.

Is Parker’s Influence Diminishing? (source: telegraph.co.uk)
Is Parker’s Influence Diminishing? (source: telegraph.co.uk)

Re-scoring of the 2009s

Love him or hate him, no one can deny Parker’s impact over the last few decades. His scores out of 100 have cast a shadow on the fortunes of Chateaux, leading to many being accused of attempting to make wines that would appeal to the Parker palate in order to secure a high score. His recent re-scoring of the 2009s has shown that he is still a dominant influence on the market. In declaring 2009 to be ‘better than 1982’ and ‘the greatest vintage I have ever tasted in Bordeaux’, Parker has sealed the fate of the wines he has given perfect or near-perfect scores to, and it would be foolish for the investor to ignore this.

Something to aspire to

There has been much commentary on Parker’s ‘perfect’ scores – re-scoring no less than 18 wines from the 2009 vintage at 100 points. A further 11 were rated as 99 or 99+. But these perfect scores, whether Parker is right or wrong, give the producers something to aspire to. This is something that other critics seem reluctant to do, as if it is somehow wrong to suggest that some wines attain perfection. Reactions to this often descend into debates about the hundred points system with many insisting it is flawed. But Parker has much to say about the wines to which he assigns perfect scores – he describes them in great detail, and let’s face it, few are better qualified to assign a perfect score. As Andrew Jefford observes in his column for Decanter, Parker has always been willing to place his reputation on the line with his evaluations of wine.

The benchmark for perfection

Parker’s influence will inevitably wane at some point, but it is perhaps unnecessarily bold to suggest it is already happening. He’ll be greatly missed when the time comes, if only that few critics would be so bold as to adopt his hundred points scale, and even fewer to suggest that some wines are ‘perfect’. And when that time comes, what’s the benchmark for perfection?

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