Parker Gives Bordeaux a Double Boost

There are more than a few Châteaux owners, and wine merchants, who will be mightily relieved that über critic Robert Parker is coming to Bordeaux in March to taste the 2010s in barrel, as well as the 2008s which were bottled last summer. Thankfully for them, Mr P is now well enough to travel following knee surgery, having tweeted recently that flying to Bordeaux might be ‘a pipedream’ unless his rate of recovery improved.

dsc_0004Of more lasting significance, he announced on the 5th February that he has handed over the rating of Californian wines to his Wine Advocate colleague, Antonio Galloni, who also takes over the best bits of Burgundy. Parker is now concentrating on Bordeaux and the Rhône. See below for the important change to his review calendar, which shows that he’ll be coming to Bordeaux twice a year, not just once.

The new responsibilities for Parker and his team at The Wine Advocate and are:

Robert Parker – Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley, older vintages of Bordeaux, Rhône and California wines
Antonio Galloni – Italy, Champagne, Chablis, Côte d’Or, California
David Schildknecht – Germany, Loire, Beaujolais and Mâconnais, Eastern U.S., Austria,
Eastern Europe, Languedoc-Roussillon, Jura
Jay Miller – Oregon, Washington, South America, Spain
Lisa Perrotti – Brown – Australia, New Zealand
Neal Martin – Critic-at-Large overlapping all areas, plus specific reviewer of South Africa (a Brit, Neal’s ‘Wine Journal’ is ‘an independent state within the kingdom of’)
Mark Squires – Bulletin Board supervision and occasional articles on Israel, Portugal, and Greece

There has been plenty of coverage on the internet about the implications of these changes and I recommend these articles (US) if you’re interested:

The End of an Era: Robert Parker stops reviewing Californian Wine, Alder Yarrow, Vinography

Robert Parker and California: a Cautionary Tale, Joe Roberts, 1WineDude

Thoughts on Robert Parker’s semi-retirement, W. Blake Grey, Grey Market Report

The Contrarian View on Parker’s announcement, Jeff Lefevere, The Good Grape

and these from UK sites

All change at The Wine Advocate – again, Jancis Robinson (subscription required)

Parker relinquishes coverage of California, Liv-ex (with further links)

Retirement? Not for my money

My friends at Liv-ex, in the blog post above, wrote

“For many readers, the announcement comes as a clear reminder that, at 63, Parker’s retirement is looming ever closer. And given the powerful effect that his opinions have had on international demand and prices over the years, full retirement would indeed mark the end – and beginning – of an era.”

After reading the blog posts, my feeling is that Parker isn’t going anywhere, especially as far as Bordeaux is concerned. These changes haven’t been made out of any grand plan to retire or to extend the reach of The Wine Advocate. A Château owner here once referred to Parker as ‘an accidental businessman’ and these changes simply reflect what Parker loves most – the wines of Bordeaux and the Rhône, and the influence his scores and ratings carry. It’s also noticeable just how influential the demand from China is in all this.

I doubt he’ll ever retire from judging Bordeaux, even if it comes down to lining up a few old vintages.

Parker’s Bordeaux review calendar changed

There’s an important change to The Wine Advocate’s 2011 Editorial Calendar which hasn’t been picked up on just yet, as far as Bordeaux is concerned. Parker, up until now, has reviewed the wines ‘in bottle’ at the same time as the new vintage from barrel. As I say, he’ll be tasting the 2008s, which were bottled last summer, at the same time as the 2010s from barrel on this next visit. Sometimes, his ‘in bottle’ scores get lost in the excitement of the En Primeur game of the new vintage.

Later this year, Parker will be reviewing the all-important 2009s ‘in bottle,’ four months ahead of his previous schedule, in December (they’ll be bottled this summer, 18-20 months after the harvest). December is when many of the wines start being shipped out from the Châteaux. It will mean that Parker will come to Bordeaux in the Spring for a fortnight, and again in the autumn. Of late, he’s been here just once a year, in the Spring.

That will leave the 2011 barrel samples next April in their own right, all being well. It’s good news for the Bordeaux trade, and investors, as there will be two separate sets of Parker scores and notes to work with. Let’s hope he can keep up with the travel commitments.

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