Robert Parker. Like New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, you either revile with corrosive intensity or adore with hagiographic veneration.
Arguably, Robert Parker made wine what it is today in U.S. The 100-point scale—his transformative gimmick—is why America is world’s largest consumer of wine. We were timid neophytes before. He made it possible for barefoot Pilgrim consumers to pretend they knew what they were doing.
Belittlers of Parker’s system insist wine cannot be reduced to pseudo-science numbers. Same time, Parker acolytes make wine with high Parker scores best sellers at whatever price winery deigns.
Parker’s oppugnant foes protest he prefers one style: inky-colored fruit bombs above 14.5 percent alcohol with full, sweet, mouth-filling feeling. This is flavor profile achieved in California when grapes are harvested fully ripe or over-ripe, increasing sugar, and—thus—alcohol, and maximizing fruity sweetness. Parker protests that is not fair generalization, but—whatever.
To the point: do Parker’s foes excoriate messenger or message?
A study of wine pricing beginning from well before Parker reveals wine prices in Bordeaux track remarkably well with warm, dry years rather than cooler, wetter years. In layman’s terms, when Bordeaux most resembled Parker-prized pours, people worldwide cherished those wines more and paid significantly more for those wines.
Bottom line: Robert Parker is robust, game-changing success because his exalted palate tracked closely with so many palates. There are styles Parker may not favor that other people savor, but wines he anoints are ones many people find awesome. He said “this is good” and throngs agreed because they also thought it good.
Parker is in autumn of his reign, but what a run it has been. Unquestionably, Parker changed the wine world. Even if you do not agree with his palate, you cannot dismiss his influence.
• Stemmari Baci Vivaci NV: Delightful light frizante made with Sicilian grillo grape; baci vicaci means “lively kisses”—what this aperitif/light white wine charmer gives your palate. $12
• Mirassou Moscato 2013: Flamboyant fruit; peach, orange, pineapple, lilt of lemon, honey; balancing acidity; sweet, fruity lover’s delight. $12
• Edna Valley Vineyard Central Coast Chardonnay 2013: Fresh, tasty; pineapple, peach, citrus, hint of honey, apricot; creamy, clean; graciously restrained oak; bright acidity for food friendly fun. $15
Last round: Money doesn’t buy happiness, unless you spend it on wine.
Email Gus at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow tasting notes on Twitter @gusclemens. Website: gusclemens.com. Facebook: Gus Clemens on Wine.