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Dale Williams

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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Dale Williams » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:24 am

I wasn't really into wine at that point, but I know people who were, and have read some looks at critical reception (as well as Erin McCoys book). I think while Bettane for instance was as excited as Parker about the 1982s, Robert Finigan (probably the most important American critic at the time, though his influence was nothing like Parker's today) felt it average at best. I think that difference is what "made" Parker's reputation. Most of the British critics were positive, but not as insistently enthusiastic as Parker.
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Thomas

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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Thomas » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:32 am

Otto Nieminen wrote:

I thought Parker rose to prominence only because he published his reviews of the 1982s before other writers did. And I also thought that 1982 was pretty universally liked and that it is a myth propagated by Parker and his lemmings that only he gave the vintage great reviews.


Otto,

Parker had been writing before the '82 vintage but his call on that one was right on and it catapulted his reputation. Not a lot of European writers went against his view of the 82 Bordeaux, but in America a couple of influential wine critics were completely opposite his opinion on the vintage. One was named Robert Finigan--he was the top critic at the time; another was Terry Robards who was writing then, I believe, for the NY Times.

Oops, looks like Dale and I nearly overlapped posts...
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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Ian Sutton » Tue Jun 20, 2006 2:28 pm

Thanks for the correction folks and for the additional background which is pretty interesting to me (I'd never heard what other critics had said at the time, so these snippets were great).

regards

Ian
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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Otto » Tue Jun 20, 2006 3:16 pm

wrcstl wrote:
Randy Buckner wrote:Otto, I was under the impression that the 82 vintage set him on the path to "truth," whereas some other writers were just lukewarm. Anyone else remember this?


This is the way I remember it from many years ago. I tried an Internet search on 1982 reviewers. Was looking at what they thought in 1985. The problem is that they are all current reviews and everyone loves 1982, who wouldn't. My guess is that Otto is correct on the early review comment on Parker but still remember that others gave 1982 lukewarm comments.
Walt


I might very well misremember - I remember in chat one Sunday the past winter Alex R telling me such things. I also seem to remember him having written these down with plentiful evidence cited as well, but a quick search on the various fora didn't turn up anything. Maybe I need a brain transplant. Or help searching. Well, what I do remember is that I was convinced by his reasoning and have therefore adapted his thoughts.
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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Bob Ross » Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:43 pm

William Langewiesche summary of the reviews of the 1982 Bordeaux, as it appeared in the 2000 "Atlantic" article, reads as follows:

By 1982, after four years in existence, The Wine Advocate had a circulation of 7,000. Then came the Bordeaux vintage of 1982, whose young wines were unusually dark, powerful, and fruity. When Parker flew home from tasting those "futures" in the spring of 1983, he was so eager to get back and write about what he had found that he worried uncharacteristically that the airplane might crash. This was the scoop of a lifetime, a vintage that he was convinced would become one of the greatest in history, and that the other critics, within their variations of "wonderful," seemed to have underestimated.

Parker advised his readers to buy the wines, and many did so -- in large quantities. A lot of money was at stake. The established critics attacked, arguing that the young 1982s lacked acidity and therefore would not age well. They were saying, in essence, that these wines tasted too good too soon -- an argument related to the traditional one that bad wines require age to become better. Parker suspected the opposite -- that the greatest vintages (he thought of '61 and '49 and '47) are so seamless and free of imperfections that they are balanced from birth -- and that 1982 was just such a vintage.

With his career on the line, he returned to Bordeaux and started asking about the past. In the archives of Chateau Haut-Brion he found an old diary that expressed concern about the famous vintage of 1929 -- that the then-young wines were too intense, and would not endure. Parker knew those wines after fifty years, and considered them to be excellent still. He retasted the 1982s and was again astonished by their splendor. He went home to Monkton, and reiterated his earlier judgments.

By 1984, when the wines were being bottled, it was obvious to everyone that he was right. Most of the opposing critics began to back down. One who didn't was forced into an increasingly untenable position, and finally lost his job. The Wine Spectator eventually came out with an issue celebrating the 1982 vintage, but by then those wines were hard to find and very expensive. Parker's reputation was made. Some of his readers had gotten rich on his advice. Others simply had picked up good wine at a good price. The Wine Advocate's circulation jumped past 10,000. Parker quit his job as a lawyer. Several weeks later he signed his first book contract in New York. He told me that going home on the train, he felt like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky.


Regards, Bob
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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by wrcstl » Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:31 pm

Bob,
Thanks for the research. Figured someone like you could find what I was looking for. This is the way I remembered it but with '82 being so good the critics backpeddled quickly and it is hard to find the original comments.

It is interesting to read this article and you can almost see RPs preference for big fruit driven wines. What worked in '82, '61, '47 and '29 does not transfer to all "big and goopy" wines and I think RP tends to error in that direction.
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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Ian Sutton » Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:43 pm

wrcstl wrote:Bob,
Thanks for the research. Figured someone like you could find what I was looking for. This is the way I remembered it but with '82 being so good the critics backpeddled quickly and it is hard to find the original comments.

It is interesting to read this article and you can almost see RPs preference for big fruit driven wines. What worked in '82, '61, '47 and '29 does not transfer to all "big and goopy" wines and I think RP tends to error in that direction.
Walt

Walt
You beat me to it!
It's good to see his research at the time which shouldn't be underestimated. Knowing past vintages of a "terroir-driven" wine, strikes me as crucial to judging it's future, assuming of course the absence of significant changes in methods.
One criticism of his promoting of bigger wines, is that they don't have a track record and thus he's making his calls without that research available. That he was right before, doesn't mean he'll be right this time.

Bob
Many thanks for this - really interesting to someone who wasn't drinking wine (legally :oops: ) at the time.
regards
Ian
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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Randy Buckner » Wed Jun 21, 2006 3:12 pm

That he was right before, doesn't mean he'll be right this time.


He certainly wasn't right about the Dunn wines he drooled over -- they have never come into balance IMO. Same with Harlan -- tried a 10-year vertical and was very underwhelmed.
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Manuel Camblor

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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Manuel Camblor » Wed Jun 21, 2006 3:23 pm

Robin Garr wrote: extra credit if you'll stay to post a comment.


Okay, how about adding a "Worst thing to happen to wine since phyloxera" choice? (I thought it would be a nice nod to some of my teachers and other elders to suggest this one...) :twisted:

Now, what's for "extra credit"?
Best,

LL
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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Graeme Gee » Wed Jun 21, 2006 10:24 pm

wrcstl wrote:It is interesting to read this article and you can almost see RPs preference for big fruit driven wines. What worked in '82, '61, '47 and '29 does not transfer to all "big and goopy" wines and I think RP tends to error in that direction.
Walt


I've not studied logic, but I am aware of the false conclusion (it has a technical name I'm sure) derived from the following error:

"All the very great wines are fruity and approachable young, therefore fruity and approachable young wines are destined to be the greatest."

Bzzzz. Drop to the bottom of the class. And don't give Clarendon Hills shirazes 20-year drinking windows...

cheers,
Graeme
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Re: Netscape Forum Poll: Parker's influence on wine

by Otto » Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:53 pm

Graeme Gee wrote:
wrcstl wrote:It is interesting to read this article and you can almost see RPs preference for big fruit driven wines. What worked in '82, '61, '47 and '29 does not transfer to all "big and goopy" wines and I think RP tends to error in that direction.
Walt


I've not studied logic, but I am aware of the false conclusion (it has a technical name I'm sure) derived from the following error:

"All the very great wines are fruity and approachable young, therefore fruity and approachable young wines are destined to be the greatest."

Bzzzz. Drop to the bottom of the class. And don't give Clarendon Hills shirazes 20-year drinking windows...

cheers,
Graeme


Circular reasoning? Parker & al are certainly is very fond of it.
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