Whether we like it or not, The Wine Advocate (TWA), personified in Robert Parker, is today’s most influential wine guide on the planet. To invoke the name of this wine critic arouses admiration in some cases and sometimes indiference or even indignation.
This lawyer from Baltimore (USA) released his first newsletter, the Baltimore-Washington Wine Advocate, in the late 1970s, quickly gaining followers and subscribers faster than he had imagined, especially in the United States.
As an expert in Bordeaux wines, he stood out from the crowd at the 1982 “en primeur” wine tasting (organized 6-8 months after the harvest, potential buyers have the opportunity to measure the quality of the new vintage and buy in advance). When everyone considered the vintage to be rather poor, Parker deemed it to be a rough diamond, and time proved him right. This event led him to establish himself as one of the wine gurus worldwide.
The Parker Style
Bordeux wines, when young, are powerful and show an intense wood and tannicity. It is only over the years, when they are completely balanced, that an exquisite velvety side begins to surface.
During the 90s and well into the 2000s all wines referred to as “Parker wines” are tannin-rich, with high colour extraction and lengthy periods in new oak. Wines that overload the palate eventually but were the most sought after for these kind of powerful sensations.
Basically, these wines always receive the best ratings and represent the so called “Parker style”.
The wine industry quickly became aware of the notable difference, as far as sales were concerned, between a high and a low score at The Wine Advocate. And it was the time of globalized wines, the public seemed to agree with this trend and it became challenging to differentiate wines from as far apart as Priorat, South Africa, Australia, Italy, Rioja or Chile, usually with a lack of “terroir” as a common pattern.
An emerging trend
Over the years, changes in consumers’ tastes have taken place. The publication has made a number of changes, replacing wine tasters (the Spanish region has clearly improved since the arrival of Luis Gutiérrez) and seeking more “terroir” qualities rather than so much oak.
Wine producers, at least those who had forgotten about the singularities of their vineyards, have now shifted, emphasizing the qualities of the soil in the wine. Consumers have also evolved and learned, the wine culture has expanded, we are more receptive and benefit from the different alternatives and wonderful variety of recent times.
Although as individuals each develops his/her own taste, Robert Parker – willing or unwillingly – managed to influence everyone else’s. After all, how bad can it be a wine rated 90+ ? 🙂