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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Lou Kessler » Fri Oct 26, 2007 9:23 pm

Nathan Smyth wrote:My other problem with the Southern Rhones is that I just don't like Grenache all that much, and, even though it's probably psychological [if you served them to me blind, I probably wouldn't realize it], I swear I can taste the white wine in C9dP.

If so, then it's a vinous miscegenation which does not sit well with my palate [or, if not, then I guess it's just my own neuroses].

Anyway, if you're not crazy about Cabernet, and if you don't like Grenache, and if you especially dislike Grenache mixed with white wine, then Parker's current beat [Cal, Bordeaux, Rhone] doesn't leave a lot to be desired.


Hey you should be happy, you're Parker proof with nothing to worry about.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Mark Lipton » Sat Oct 27, 2007 1:04 am

Robin,
I got that same email from AWC (also unrequested, and I ain't even a wine writer) hard on the heels of reading this article. Interesting juxtaposition, no?

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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Mike Filigenzi » Sat Oct 27, 2007 2:17 am

I would say that if you are selling cases of wines that Parker has rated at 100 points, then you will most certainly agree that Parker is never EVER wrong. Period.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Robin Garr » Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:44 am

Mark Lipton wrote:this article


Whoa! Where are the human shields!?
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Dale Williams » Sat Oct 27, 2007 10:56 am

Robin Garr wrote:
Mark Lipton wrote:this article


Whoa! Where are the human shields!?


I'm not one of the Parker "human shields", but disgruntled ex-
employees who were fired for illicit activities don't get high scores for credibility from me.

I think it's quite possible that Parker is influenced (probably
subconsciously) by friendship. But I doubt that is leading him to rate wines he doesn't like highly. More likely an extra point here and there. Certainly that is being human. He does disclose that he has participated in such dinners. Robin, you felt that with disclosure it was ok for you to take a trip to Portugal - if you feel you can do that without being compromised, its hard to believe that a dinner would influence Parker, whom I'm guess is a multi-millionaire.

As to the charges that he rated wines without tasting, it would need a lot more than Agnostini's word to confirm that. If he hadn't tasted Jaugaret or Jander, one would think he would just leave out- not exactly names that would hurt a book to leave out! I'd also note that called Jaugaret "notable" doesn't neccessarily imply he has tasted it.

I often don't agree with Parker about wines. I have found some of his recent comments thin-skinned and bordering on hubris. I'm not sure I believe his own tales of his consistency (still trying to pin down the Bruno de la Palme story). That being said, he has struggled hard for a reputation for integrity. There is nothing here that makes me trust him any less.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Robin Garr » Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:12 am

Dale Williams wrote:I'm not one of the Parker "human shields", but disgruntled ex- employees who were fired for illicit activities don't get high scores for credibility from me.


Dale, to clarify my brief, snarky response, I do not disagree with anything you said there, and didn't mean to imply agreement with her conclusions, or even with Decanter's apparent glee in reporting them.

I just thought it curious that a story this provocative hasn't generated a LOT more uproar. I don't hang out in the places where the human shields congregate, but I hadn't heard a peep about any of this, and that surprised me, that's all.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Bob Ross » Sat Oct 27, 2007 12:51 pm

I'm surprised too, Robin, but there was a tremendous flap over these same charges when she was fired four years ago. At least on eBob, but I remember other sources as well.

It is still early days, and I'm not sure the book is available in English. Some criticism is balanced:

Wine taster, and critic for Britain's Wine and Spirit magazine, Gavin Quinney, tempered the criticism, saying it was difficult to remain independent.

"You have to accept some form of hospitality when you taste in bottle (meaning at the the chateaux). If you become friendly with people, as Parker has done over the years, that can be a pressure."

Parker's reviews and points system, he added, were useful marketing tools for wine merchants, helping them to sell more easily. "Merchants quote him all the time because he is so quotable. And the 100 point system really works for consumers," Quinney said at the launch.

"Plus, most of the time, I have to say, he is right about the wines."


http://news.sawf.org/Lifestyle/44167.aspx


I found one of her charges very interesting; as a translator of his books into French, she should have the goods on this:

"Accusing him of cutting and pasting from one year to the next and failing to update his facts, Agostini said Parker "does not respect the consumer. He says 'I am the defender of the consumer', and at the same time sells a book with flaws."

BTW, the book will be published; the French court did not order deletions:

Raynaud, who heads up the Cercle de Rive Droite, had requested an injunction against the book Robert Parker: Anatomie d'un Mythe, from a Bordeaux court yesterday.

Today, the court in Libourne found in favour of the publishers of the book, Editions Scali, and its author, Hanna Agostini.

The case centred around the suggestion, reported by Agostini, that Parker was the godfather of Raynaud's daughter and that Raynaud had asked Parker to be a godfather in order to gain favour from the highly influential wine critic.

Raynaud told decanter.com that the court had found against him because he had not quashed reports at the time.

'All I wanted to do was strike the passages about my daughter,' he said. 'I gave proof to the court that my daughter's godfather is not Parker. She's now 12 years old. It's as if I'm accused of using my daughter. It's as if I'm being accused of prostituting a minor.'

Raynaud said he had read an advance copy of the book as a member of a French literary society.


http://www.decanter.com/news/151885.html
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Carl Eppig » Sat Oct 27, 2007 2:17 pm

JC (NC) wrote:On the spelling of judgement/judgment, both are acceptable according to Webster's. I used it without a first 'e' as a yearbook copy editor in high school and my journalism teacher questioned my spelling but accepted it when the dictionary approved both forms.


You made out much better than I did a few years earlier. The last time I put an "e" in judgment was in a philosophy quiz in college. It was the correct answer to a question on a ten question test. I spelled it with the "e" and lost ten points! I presented the professor with a stack of dictionaries showing both spellings, and was told, "In here we don't use an 'e'."

A few years later colleges all over the country went up in flames.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Nathan Smyth » Sat Oct 27, 2007 3:48 pm

Lou Kessler wrote:
Nathan Smyth wrote:My other problem with the Southern Rhones is that I just don't like Grenache all that much, and, even though it's probably psychological [if you served them to me blind, I probably wouldn't realize it], I swear I can taste the white wine in C9dP.

If so, then it's a vinous miscegenation which does not sit well with my palate [or, if not, then I guess it's just my own neuroses].

Anyway, if you're not crazy about Cabernet, and if you don't like Grenache, and if you especially dislike Grenache mixed with white wine, then Parker's current beat [Cal, Bordeaux, Rhone] doesn't leave a lot to be desired.

Hey you should be happy, you're Parker proof with nothing to worry about.

Yes, actually it has been quite liberating - to realize that I'm not that interested in most of these trophy wines.

You know, recently I was following the commotion about the Golden Cellar, and my first reaction when I saw the pictures was "Wow!"

But then I got to looking through the catalog, and I realized that there just wasn't much there which interested me:

Nothing from Austria.

Nothing from Germany.

Almost nothing from Italy.

No dry whites from Bordeaux [no Ygrec, no HB Blanc, no LVHB Blanc, no SHL Blanc, no Chevalier Blanc - nothing].

Yeah, I'd like to try that 1996 Coche Dury CC, and some of the Moulines, but much of the rest of it is just a big ho-hum.

In fact, the stuff which is "missing" is so obvious to me that I wonder whether "The Man With The Golden Cellar" is like me - he's tasted the big guns, and they left him decidedly un-impressed, so now he wants to dump them while he can still get top dollar, and concentrate on what he actually enjoys drinking.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Max Hauser » Sat Oct 27, 2007 7:23 pm

This thread touches on many things. First, What Ian Sutton said! "What some people say to sell wine ..." It's only an advertising blurb.

wrcstl: "The favorite pastime, Parker bashing." I've heard of this pastime. Some attribute it only to cheap shots or envy of popularity. My more direct experience, in contrast, is some fans' compulsion to say that against ANY comment critical of Parker no matter how specific or well grounded, which itself is a phenomenon. (Stuart's "human shield.") I have superb examples on file. The human reflex to attack the messenger or motivation behind data incompatible with one's personal reality model finds vivid demonstration in Parker partisans. (Is there a Doctrine of Parkeral Infallibility for the truly faithful?)

In defense of Parker and other critics, there've been careful and extensive statistical studies comparing wine critics' rankings of the same wines (even looking for side issues like consistency in repeat reviews of the same wine). I know one study that's public but not (to my knowledge) much publicized, and another privately commissioned. The latter one particularly showed remarkable consistency between critics assessing the wines it covered.

In criticism of Parker, individual cases of serious faux-pas have surfaced. One was implicit in a recent New Yorker article cited Here. Also, though they were certainly less widely read than todays,' and are not always fully appreciated, the early Internet wine fora significantly coincided with P's rise to US popularity (middle to late 1980s) and carried, from well-read participants, examples and quotations from Parker that I don't see mentioned today and that certainly showed fallibility. If I remember, they included inconsistent point rankings when he was asked to taste wines blind, and decisive assertions about aging potential by someone who had not experienced the process (that is, he hadn't drunk wine for as long as he was extrapolating) which raised a flag for me. A complaint I remember in detail (it's still online) is that P neglected California (a point that also surfaced in formal writings at that time). Ironic in view of the 1990s California clamor, including "cult" wines, with which Parker is specifically associated.

And thanks Mark for the Times article. (For once, the real Times! As in "Times New Roman" and other things. Not one of those new-world papers -- The (Somewhere) Times, -- whose locals invariably call "The" Times whether Somewhere is NYC, LA, or Ithaca.)
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Victorwine » Sat Oct 27, 2007 7:53 pm

Is there truly such a thing as a “correct” or “incorrect” score when it comes to evaluating or judging wines? At our monthly tasting all we ask is that you can “defend” your evaluation or score.
At a recent tasting we sampled some low priced Shiraz or Syrah wines blind, one in particular that sticks out was a screw-capped wine (Ya, I cheated, I noticed that the bottle was a screw-cap). So after giving it an initial sniff, I detected some reduction, but after vigorously and aggressively swirling the wine, it became quite pleasant and a typical spicy earthy Shiraz with some nice fruit even coming through. I ended up scoring this wine a 12.5.
The gentleman a few seats away from me said that he couldn’t get past the slight “dirty diaper” aroma he was detecting. He scored the same wine (from the same bottle) a 9.

Salute
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Bob Ross » Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:15 pm

Minor pissant point, Max, since 1 January 1788 "The Times".

I don't know, though, when the Sunday edition was named "The Sunday Times."

On a purely personal level, I still prefer Times Roman to its new-fangled Times Modern typeface.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Max Hauser » Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:38 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Minor pissant point, Max, since 1 January 1788 "The Times". ... On a purely personal level, I still prefer Times Roman to its new-fangled Times Modern typeface.

Yes, The Times, or as I modified it informally, the real Times vs The (somewhere) Times! (By the way, Bob, the typeface is formally " 'The Times' New Roman" and was designed as an anniversary commemoration as you likely know. That information is not from online.)


Victorwine, a good point that "correct" wine scoring is kind of meaningless. But judging and analyzing wine is broader than that, and we can ask questions about a writer's knowledge of background, or basis for opinions, or self-consistency. (Unless we are among the Faithful.)
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Ian Sutton » Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:39 pm

Bob Ross wrote:Minor pissant point, Max, since 1 January 1788 "The Times".

I don't know, though, when the Sunday edition was named "The Sunday Times."

On a purely personal level, I still prefer Times Roman to its new-fangled Times Modern typeface.

Regards, Bob

Wow! I'd never made the connection between the font 'Times New Roman etc' and the newspaper :oops:
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Thomas » Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:01 pm

Victorwine wrote:Is there truly such a thing as a “correct” or “incorrect” score when it comes to evaluating or judging wines? At our monthly tasting all we ask is that you can “defend” your evaluation or score.
At a recent tasting we sampled some low priced Shiraz or Syrah wines blind, one in particular that sticks out was a screw-capped wine (Ya, I cheated, I noticed that the bottle was a screw-cap). So after giving it an initial sniff, I detected some reduction, but after vigorously and aggressively swirling the wine, it became quite pleasant and a typical spicy earthy Shiraz with some nice fruit even coming through. I ended up scoring this wine a 12.5.
The gentleman a few seats away from me said that he couldn’t get past the slight “dirty diaper” aroma he was detecting. He scored the same wine (from the same bottle) a 9.

Salute


Victor,

The problem with scoring is that it is mainly subjective, which, in my view, renders it useless as an evaluation of the wine--it works as an evaluation of what the scorer thinks of the wine.

Case in point: the fellow who could not get past the "diaper" aroma; you did after swirling a bit; why couldn't he?

The only objective way to evaluate wine is chemically and in a lab. Not to say that trained technicians can't come up with evaluations, but even they would have to suspend their biases, and that is the difficult part.
Last edited by Thomas on Sun Oct 28, 2007 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Bob Ross » Sun Oct 28, 2007 1:50 am

Max, I wasn't up to date on the typefaces used by "The Times". The paper has a chronological list of key events. It's interesting how the typeface changed; I had forgotten the Europa/Times Roman change -- I was very familiar with photocomposition in the late 1970s/early 1980s:

1982
April — The last Linotype page produced by The Times. August — Europa typeface replaced by Times Roman (a version of Times New Roman). September — "Saturday" section first appeared. The Times Supplements left Gray's Inn Road and moved to Clerkenwell. The Times became the first national newspaper to be set entirely by photocomposition.

1991
The Times introduced the Weekend Times on Saturdays. The Times switched to a new typeface, Times Millennium, designed for use with new electronic technology. Times Millennium is a redesigned version of Times New Roman, introduced by The Times in 1932, which became the world's most famous typeface.

2002
February 12 — Times Classic replaced Millennium typeface.

2006
November — The Times introduces a new masthead and begins printing in a new bespoke font, Times Modern, which replaced Times Classic.


I didn't know about the reason for the change to Times Modern -- thanks. What was the anniversary commemoration? I somehow had the idea it was related to the US launch of The Times, but I see that launch was six months before the change to Times Modern, so that must be wrong.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Dale Williams » Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:43 am

Max Hauser wrote: If I remember, they included inconsistent point rankings when he was asked to taste wines blind


There is one exception, a remarkable tasting where Parker in a double-blind setting named all 9 wines that he had tasted before exactly, even the ringer. And exactly matched the point rating on 8 of them. This thread on alt.food.wine is where it first went outside Prodigy:
http://tinyurl.com/2fk3fn

It has been quoted many many times by the faithful. It is certainly far better than he did single blind in single vintage tastings at Executive Wine Seminars, as reported by Bob Ross and others.

The interesting thing is that while this has been posted many times as independent evidence- 16 million witnesses!- it seems it has never been seen. This year after I questioned it repeatedly Mr. Squires said he understood the clip had not been shown (with implication because it showed Parker too favorably). It turns out there was a correspondent on Capital on M6 named Bruno de la Palme (for a while I doubted that, he left remarkably little internet trail, but I did find references to him reporting on veterinarians and "the King of Accessories"), but I can't locate him. He certainly wasn't a superstar, and the show has nowhere near 16 million viewers. But the funny thing is this tasting oft cited by fans as independent proof of Parker's miracle consistency has never been seen. Parker says he might have a video, but he doesn't know where it is and doesn't have time to look.


(For once, the real Times! As in "Times New Roman" and other things. Not one of those new-world papers -- The (Somewhere) Times, -- whose locals invariably call "The" Times whether Somewhere is NYC, LA, or Ithaca.)


Max, while I guess we are all a bit provincial, it seems just common sense in local conversation . Certainly in the Bay Area the Examiner, the Chronicle, nor the Tribune were not the first to use respective names, but I would be quite surprised if you ALWAYS say "the Oakland Tribune." When I was a teen and went to the Greensboro Coliseum for concerts we just said the Coliseum, and not once did anyone think we were going to the Colosseum in Rome.
As far as "invariably" - beyond local conversation, I looked at AFW as well as here and can't find any references where I or anyone else from NY used "Times" without a NY modifier, nor any usage of the LA Times as "the Times." I do see that both Bob Ross and myself do feel that NYT is generally acceptable shorthand, and to date don't find that anyone has questioned what we meant.
Last edited by Dale Williams on Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Mark Lipton » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:57 am

Dale Williams wrote: I do see that both Bob Ross and myself do feel that NYT is generally acceptable shorthand, and to date don't find that anyone has questioned what we meant.


Well, it's just lucky for you that the New York Tribune is no longer around to muddy the waters, Dale, or I'd be first in line to excoriate you both. :wink:

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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Bob Ross » Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:17 pm

"The Times" is such a PIA, frankly. For my first four years in NYC, I called the Tribune the "Trib", but have always tried to call the "New York Times" either the NYTimes or the NYT. I started reading it in Wisconsin as a high school freshman, a week later than its issue date, but it was important to distinguish it back home from the Capital Times, or the CapTimes, the chief Madison paper at the time.

"The Times" -- I always thought it should have some sort of symbol for that heraldic device between the two words, something like the guy once [and once again] called "Prince".

Many of my friends, and from time to time, I as well, call it "The Times of London" or less precisely "The London Times", but it asserts that it is a national paper and the "London" is too restrictive. But, then, the NYTimes makes the same claim.

Thank goodness I can't go wrong with the WSJ, either in the old local Wall Street days, or now that it too has become a "national" paper.

Don't let me get going on "Time" -- the margin of this post is already too pissanty crowded. :)
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Paul Winalski » Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:56 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Mark Lipton wrote:this article


Whoa! Where are the human shields!?


I found this bit of the article interesting:

"Hanna Agostini, who worked with Parker for eight years, also questions the independence of the so-called Emperor of Wine, saying that he has enjoyed sumptuous banquets with producers whose bottles he has subsequently praised."

This is interesting in light of an editorial that Parker wrote many years ago in The Wine advocate concerning how he sees his role as a critic. In his article, Parker stated that while in law school he was much influenced by Ralph Nader's consumerism movement, and that he saw his role as being a critic who is outside the mainstream of the wine trade, and hence able to give an impartial and consumer-oriented view of the wine world.

And indeed, Parker started out that way. He reviewed only wines that he'd bought at retail, with his own money, from local outlets. But Parker ceased to be an outsider once he started visiting cellars, tasting barrel samples, and accepting bottles sent to him for review. Let alone the banquets and hobnobbing with producers that Hanna Agostini refers to.

These days Parker cannot possibly claim to be an outsider looking in at the wine trade. He's an integral cog in the machinery of wine marketing. Does this mean loss of impartiality? Not necessarily. But it does mean that he long ago lost his original status as a Naderesque outside critic.

-Paul W.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Oliver McCrum » Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:38 pm

Paul,

My understanding is that Parker pays for his own meals at restaurants, which is more than can be said for most journalists. I don't expect him to try to pay for dinner when invited to someone's house, which is what Agostini appears to be saying.

I think Parker is either almost always right or almost always mistaken, in the sense that he judges wines consistently on what I take to be an entirely flawed model of what constitutes good wine.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:53 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I think Parker is either almost always right or almost always mistaken, in the sense that he judges wines consistently on what I take to be an entirely flawed model of what constitutes good wine.


So his tastes do not coincide with yours. That makes his taste flawed?

I don't particularly care for Parker either, but flawed model of what constitutes good wine? That's a rather parochial viewpoint.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by Oliver McCrum » Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:55 pm

David,

Mistaking one's own taste for objective truth would indeed be wrong; but fortunately you seem to have misunderstood part of my post. 'I take to be' means 'that I think is...', and it is clear in fact that I am not suggesting Parker is objectively wrong, quite the reverse. He walks a very straight line, but I think he's going in the wrong direction.
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Re: Parker "rarely incorrect"?

by David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:59 pm

I understood your post quite well. again I'm just getting back to my much earlier comments regarding how one can acknowledge a style one is either a fan or not a fan of without resorting to pejorative descriptors.
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