If there was a Yoda of wine, it would be Robert Parker. It not that he’s small, green and hairy. He isn’t. Nor talks in inverted syntax does he. Rather, Mr Parker is a hugely respected repository of wine knowledge, and his influence flows through the global industry like a mystical unseen force that changes the price of wine. A vineyard’s vintage lives or dies by that force. In fact as both he and his very influential newsletter, The Wine Advocate, are still affecting the prices of bottles with their reviews, it’s important to get acquainted with the man. The force is strong with this one.
A Brief Overview Robert Parker
Mr Parker started writing his newsletter critiquing wine in the 1970s. Notably, he did not raise money for it by selling advertising, but by charging people to receive copies. Due to the quality of his advice, there was enough demand for him to quit his day job, and just focus on being an international wine critic. What’s more, because he did not have to appease advertising clients, he enjoyed much greater independence, and he often differed in opinion from the other wine critics, who were also trying to sell the wines they talked about. His word carried a lot more weight.
Indeed, we set a lot of store by Robert Parker. So much so that we stock many of the wines that he reviews, and you can see them in this list of bottles from The Wine Advocate. This is the good stuff.
Robert Parker’s 100 Point Ranking
To give some objectivity to his scoring process, Mr Parker rates the wine between 50 and 100 points. The analysis is on the usual features of a tasting such as bouquet, how long lasting the wine is and the flavour intensity. Those which score over 80 are good. Yet, those wines with a score of over 90 points are seriously, phantasmagorically, mind-meltingly excellent, and a definite good purchase. It’s for that reason that wines with 90+ scores tend to be a bit on the pricey side.
Wines that Hit the Sweet Spot
All of this means that the trick is to find those wines which are both good enough to have gained over 90 points from Mr Parker, yet through the magic of economics are somehow still under €20. Our store keeps an updated list of them. But here are a few of our favourites:
- Remelluri Reserva 2009. Robert Parker gave this Rioja 93 points. That means it should knock the socks off other Riojas you may have tried. It has excellent fruit expression of cherries, and oak aging has given it some interesting toasty, woody notes. Enjoy with a good lamb shank.
- Allende Blanco 2012. At 91 Parker points, this is one heck of a white wine. That’s at least in part due to the old vines that produced the grapes which went into making the bottle, as old vines always concentrate the flavours in the berries. Expect a full bodied, heavy, fruity wine.
- Rimarts Gran Reserva 2011. This is a Cava with knobs on. Robert Parker gave it 90 points, and the wine has a very long finish. That is, the flavours carry on in the mouth like an flavoursome echo in a huge cave. As with all good Cavas, it produces a very small, fine, persistent bubble.
- Jorge Ordoñez No2 Victoria 2015. This is a rare but delicious sweet wine that deserves every last one of its 91 Parker points. Made from carefully selected Moscatel de Alejandría grapes, it has intense fruity, herby flavours. Again, that’s probably due to the old vines that produced it.