Robert Parker stuns the world

While most of America focused on the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 6, in the wine world all eyes were on a single email.
In the email, Robert Parker, 63-year-old founder of Wine Advocate and most influential wine critic in history, announced the beginning of his withdrawal from tasting responsibilities, specifically of California wine.

Imagine knees knocking in Napa and stomachs shaking in Sonoma. Parker is reason for rocket ride of California cult wines in 1990s. Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 received a 100 Parker score; today a single 1.5 liter bottle sells for $17,000.

Screaming at Screaming Eagle on Super Bowl Sunday was not about Green Bay’s win.

While Parker scales back, he will not go away. He will continue to score his first love, Bordeaux, and his most recent infatuation, the Rhône Valley.

He also poured himself an assignment the envy of all who pull cork: reviewing older vintages of “perfectly stored” California, Bordeaux, and Rhône wines to see how his earlier pronouncements played out. You can’t buy these, so this is more a way for Bobby Parker to enjoy really good wines than its exercise to enlighten you and me.

Nice work if you can get it.

Antonio Galloni now will review California wines for Wine Advocate. His taste will be subtly different than Parker’s. Some predict Galloni will be less rhapsodic about over-oaked, high-alcohol, fruit-bomb California monster wines. We’ll see.

One thing is certain: the wine world is not the same after Super Bowl Sunday.


• Cellar de Cantonella Cérvoles 2005. Full bodied, black fruits. Spain; RP 91 points. $21

• Abadía de Acón Crianza 2006. Great nose, supple, balanced. Spain; RP 91 points. $33

• Orin Swift The Prisoner 2006. Six grapes, led by Zin and Cab, monster fruit bomb with soft tannins and more than 15% alcohol. RP 90 points. $38