Notorious (Robert Parker is Chasing Shadows)

Vinted on May 7, 2009 binned in best of, commentary

Lay your seedy judgments, who says they’re part of our lives? I heard your promise but I don’t believe it –
That’s why I’ll do it again

– Notorious, Duran Duran

Robert Parker can’t leave well enough alone these days, at least when it comes to bloggers.

Which is a shame really, because ultimately, in his attacks on other blogers and wine writers, he undermines his own credibility, gaining nothing as he lashes out at shadows that don’t even care about his existence.  He’s either chasing ghosts, or his own demons – either way, it’s fruitless.

Parker, the oft-celebrated, sometimes-maligned uber-critic of wine, might be seeing a slight wane in his near-dominant influence on fine wine prices, but his words are still capable of moving mountains of wine at retail.  So it would be logical to conclude that he has little to fear from most other wine writers, especially bloggers.

Unfortunately, no one seems to have told Parker that his place in wine lore is as secure as ever, and as a result he has, with his latest essay in the Wine Advocate, made a complete ass of himself to the wine blogging community.

Parker’s essay, “In Vino Veritas – The 2008 Red Bordeaux” begins:

“While heading to Bordeaux for my first look at the 2008 vintage, I was worried that at best, quality would be average to above average. …I wondered what the point was of putting my nose to the grindstone for 10-12 hours a day for ten long days, not to mention the enormous expense involved in travel, lodging, transportation, etc. Would this be 10 days wasted tasting an unexciting as well as unsaleable vintage? …When I was in the Rhône Valley in early September, several French newspapers came out with stories about the deplorable quality of the 2008 Bordeaux vintage. These pre-harvest reports resonated in other areas of the world press, as well as on those notorious blogs that can be authored by anybody who can string a noun and verb together, and by many who can’t. …as I have learned for the last thirty years, you taste and judge with an open mind.”

Notorious?  I didn’t know we had that kind of clout, to be honest.  Let’s read on…

“It did not take me long to realize that the 2008 vintage was dramatically better than I had expected… When you look at all the facts (not the rumor-mongering from irresponsible bloggers), it seems clear that after the vinifications were done in late October and early November, something excellent had been produced… So why has the quality of the 2008 vintage turned out to be excellent?… The facts, not second-hand reports or rumors bereft of careful analysis, are:…”

Parker then proceeds to basically give us a weather report to explain the positive impact that the favorable climate conditions had on the 2008 red Bordeaux vintage.  That’s fine, but it doesn’t help his argument about being more reliable than rumor-mongering bloggers, since he could have called any number of Chateau there and gotten that information after harvest. Tasting, of course, is another matter, and Parker is a master at that – all the more reason why he doesn’t need to act like a jerk to bloggers when writing up his Bordeaux assessment.

But act like a jerk he has.  This was Parker’s first mention of bloggers in the Wine Advocate (so I’ve been told – I’m not a subscriber), and it happens to be wholly negative.

If I had to summarize Parker’s credibility argument in this most recent essay, it’s basically that his Bordeaux 2008 assessment is superior to those previously offered in the French press or by the unnamed notorious bloggers, because:

  • He works hard, grueling hours tasting top-end Bordeaux, at his own expense
  • He actually goes to Bordeaux to try the finished product firsthand, and doesn’t make a premature assessment based on regional vintage weather reports
  • He concentrates on facts and not upon rumors
  • He’s been at this for 30 years (presumably longer than almost anyone else)
  • He has made his assessment in the most objective way that he knows how, without the influence of any outside factors

And he’d be right, except for the slight problem that his statement about the misinformation spread by blogs is almost comically illogical.

  1. Logically, it doesn’t follow that Parker’s assessments are immune from influence – whether it be positive OR negative – by the hype that was proffered by the French media and, supposedly, the unnamed wine bloggers. He admits this in the very first paragraph. In essence, Parker is saying that after being influenced by the reports of the French media and wine bloggers, he then was able to impartially and objectively assess the 2008 Bordeaux vintage without their influence.WTF?? That’s like saying that after getting on the elevator, you were able to get to the 120th floor without getting on the elevator. It simply makes no sense.  It follows then that it’s at least possible that Parker tasted without a truly open mind, with his expectations so low as to make the vintage seem superior.
  2. It also doesn’t follow logically that he would cite the non-non-influence of bloggers and the French wine media as being irresponsible and second-hand, while he offers a second-hand synopsis of their assessment of the 2008 Bordeaux vintage. Quoting the offending media would have resolved that, but he doesn’t do that here. So by lambasting those that offer second-hand information on the 2008 Bordeaux vintage, he makes the case for his own credibility in assessing the vintage by offering second-hand information himself? WTF? Now I’m really confused.

Parker should have just stuck to the fact that he has been at it for 30 years, spent a lot of money and time, and gave his analysis. Simple, credible, perfect. Instead, he undermines all of that great work by dragging bloggers and the French media through the mud, totally unnecessarily.

Why would someone like Parker do that?

There is a logical explanation to that one.

One option is that he wants to offer up a good old fashioned “I told you so.” I can respect that, actually, even if I cringe at the way that it was done.  But there’s another explanation.

Maybe Parker notices the growing influence of blogging and alternative media on the wine industry. He may not like it, but it’s clearly influencing things, including him. Why else even bother mentioning it in the Wine Advocate?

The worst part about all of this is that most wine bloggers and wine drinkers don’t give a shit about Bordeaux ratings, they aren’t collectors, and they want to drink great wine at good prices without waiting 30+ years. Great Bordeaux is an amazing experience, deserving of deep coverage, but Parker’s eating away at his own credibility this time around by lashing out at the blogging community without any compelling reasong to do so.  It’s as if he’s getting spooked by the shadows of newcomers, of spirits that he thinks are in his pursuit but in reality aren’t even chasing him, who don’t read The Wine Advocate, wouldn’t read the Wine Advocate even if there weren’t any wine bloggers, and who don’t care at all about the prices of 2008 Bordeaux wines because they’re already too fucking expensive anyway.

I hope Parker is making himself feel better by dragging blogging through the mud, because there’s precious little other value involved in doing so.

Most of the bloggers that he is lambasting in the Wine Advocate likely won’t ever read his words, anyway.

On second thought, maybe he does have something to be concerned about after all.

Cheers!

(images: tripadvisor.com, slate.com)

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    Comments

  • Richard


    Hi Joe,
    Thought provoking blog. I imagine you will be receiving many comments on this one. I have not been a reader or writer of blogs for very long, but my take on some wine bloggers is fairly in sync with Parker's My one problem with what he wrote is in the general way he swiped, giving no credit/kudos to the more thoughtful and entertaining bloggers out there. Just for the record, I have enjoyed blogs of yours I have read, which haven't been many, but as I said I am new to this. I have been in the wine industry for some time now (retail) and I must admit I don't subscribe to any of the critics rags and rarely read any of them when they get passed my way. So, while I am no fan of Parker's his influence and those of others cannot be denied.

    I see most blogs as personal diaries with lots of opinions and borrowed information. There is nothing wrong with that and again there are blogs out there that are very informative and written by very knowledgeable peeps. But, when/if rumor and innuendo and misinformation start driving an industry, I can certainly see that there should be some concern. I for one don't see these comments by Parker as a sign of fear that he is losing his clout. I imagine he is concerned about first hand knowledge/opinion being supplanted by second hand info. For example, conjecture on a vintage before it is even tasted. He may have taken the swipe simply because he has taken umbrage with some of the wine bloggers he has read and was compelled to respond in his forum, albeit in a painfully general way. And this is precisely what you have done, taken umbrage with what he wrote and responded in your forum. All good and healthy. Although I must say, your response was more precise and detailed than his jab.

    Cheers!

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Richard.

      The great thing about blogs is there is no barrier to entry. Of course, that's the crap thing about them as well, and I'm sure that there are loads of them that as a result suck and offer little more than the rumor-mongering that Parker mentions. As you point out, this doesn't absolve him from taking such a broad swipe at the genre of publishing – it's akin to saying that all critic mags are elitist bullsh-t, which also isn't true.

      You also point out that blogs can be a place of dialog, which is certainly what I'm striving for here. I look forward to reading yours, by the way. Cheers!

    • Mark


      Richard,
      I agree with your perspective and view Parker's comments more about the frustration he is having with the misinformation. This is a common theme with the internet in general. It happens in many different ways, and there's a large number of folks that will repeat/relay information without checking it's credibility. The simpilist example of this is friends or relatives that send emails that wind up being an urban legend or complete nonsense. They send these out to a list of 10, 30 or 100 people and how many of them do the same. I see emails that originally started 10 or more years ago resurfacing. The point is that people assume credibility. I think in general people give the same credibility to emails and things they find on the internet to that of say a newspaper. But they are worlds apart. The noise level is ever-increasing on the "net" and there are no standards by which bloggers are measured or certified. So Parkers frustration is this "New World" communication that upsets and derails some of those "Old World" people that have worked long and hard to get things where they are today. I wouldn't take offense from it, but rather inspiration and determination to fight the misinformation and casualness of the environment today and work harder to create a credible and informed one.

      Whether you like it or not, you are on the same team. Don't forget that.

      • Richard


        Mark,
        I generally agree with what you are saying. I believe you are correct in asserting that there is a fair amount of info on the web that is erroneous, and regurgitated over and over again. Everyone writing or reading a blog should do their utmost to correct the misinformation as best they can. No doubt.
        There is always going to be a disparity of respect between someone who has gotten where they are by hard work, education, and time, and someone who bursts on the scene and is popular, simply because they are likable and quite frankly, 'popular'. There is a snowball effect there.
        I do have a question for you, however, regarding your last comment; "Whether you like it or not, you are on the same team. Don't forget that. " I am afraid I am not sure what you mean. I initially took it as, because I too blog I should be on the side of bloggers. Please correct me if i misunderstood, but I am not on a 'team'. I am not taking sides. I consider this to be a non issue really. I find it all fascinating of course, but as I said, I am more in sync with Parker's view on (I am assuming his intention here) SOME bloggers credibility and ability. That being said I think there are really good and interesting wine bloggers out there. So there I am, mostly in the middle.

        • 1winedude5036


          I can\\'t speak for Mark, but I took the same team to mean we and RP are all trying to make wine more accessible to Consumers.

  • Craig Drollett


    Joe, be happy. When people take the time to lash out it means you're doing something right. Congratulations and keep it up!

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks. It's nice to have an impact as a group, but what I can't fathom is why Parker wouldn't want to help *lead* a movement like blogging. I mean, how different from blogging was TWA when it first launched? In spirit, not much…

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks. It's nice to have an impact as a group, but what I can't fathom is why Parker wouldn't want to help *lead* a movement like blogging. I mean, how different from blogging was TWA when it first launched? In spirit, not much…

  • Evan Dawson


    Joe,

    My biggest issue with Parker is that he fails to source or link to any "offending bloggers." That displays both poor journalism and cowardly instincts.

    Interesting quasi-parallel: James Laube recently lashed out at unnamed "online stories" (I read that to mean "blogs") that questioned his reviewing process. It's a short post, and if you scroll down about 10 comments, you'll see that I called him out for attacking a "straw man." (I was posting under my wife Morgan's account).

    http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Blogs/Blog_Deta

    By and large, bloggers do an outstanding job providing sources and details for their information and reporting. If we did not, we'd have no readership. The free market works wonderfully in the blogosphere, because readers are not going to waste time on blogs that aren't credible. You nailed it when you surmised that perhaps Parker is starting to hear footsteps.

    • Robert Dwyer


      Hi Evan,

      That's an interesting point you raise about whether pieces written online that take issue with something that's been written about them should link to the piece they're referring to. On one hand it provides clarity as to who they're disagreeing with, on the other hand it gives the author they're disagreeing with publicity. Also, some might consider it poor form for journalists to be sniping at one another, but there seems to be a lot of that going on lately especially in the wine trade.

      Focusing on Laube's piece, I can see where he'd be annoyed that Wine Spectator is getting lumped in with other publications in the article he's referring to, and chose to make a statement in general about how he tastes rather than nitpicking with the author of the piece:

      http://www.portfolio.com/culture-lifestyle/cultur

      If I look at that example specifically, it refers to "Wine Spectator and other publications" and then later quotes Tyler Colman (mis-spelled Coleman in the Conde Nast piece) as follows:

      'The problem, Coleman says, is when a critic tastes 100 wines in a morning, the bigger, bolder wines inevitably stand out and get bigger scores. "The methodology stacks the deck against delicate wines," he says.'

      Re-reading that article, it seems that Colman's quote may have been taken out of context -and- your average reader would presume that all print publications taste hundreds of wines per morning. Wine Spectator does not do this. They taste their wines in significantly smaller flights and I think that was the primary thing Laube was seeking to establish.

      The net of, for me, is that it's not a good idea to make generalizations. Robert Parker seems to have done so with a vengeance lately, James Laube not so much.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Evan. Interesting that some of these folks are lashing out at blogs for offering quick, uninformed, and broad-based opinions without backing them up by facts… by offering their own quick, uninformed, and broad-based opinions without backing them up by facts! :-)

    • RobBralow


      Not sure that calling out specific bloggers would be the way to go. I can think of serveral good reasons why I wouldn't call out a specific blogger were I in his position.

      That being said, not sure I would ever corner myself in this way.

      :-)

      • 1WineDude


        C'mon, bro – this topic is, like, sooooo 24 hours ago… ;-)

        • RobBralow


          DUDE! 24 hours ago I was in crisis mode and paying NO attention to blogs. You gotta at least give me a full 48 before I can be accused of being late to the party!

          ;-)

  • Strappo


    Nice post, Joe.

    • 1WineDude


      Thank you sir!

  • Sonadora


    This is my favorite part: "well as on those notorious blogs that can be authored by anybody who can string a noun and verb together, and by many who can’t."

    I hate to point out the painfully obvious….but what did Mr. Parker think he was when he started the Advocate…essentially a guy with a pen and paper trying to string some words together to make a sentence about wine. We just have a more modern form of that here, with a keyboard and a blog rather than a pen and paper.

    • 1WineDude


      EXACTLY! Well put – there's almost no difference; Parker was a blog pioneer, really, just before their were blogs.

      Personally, I admire his gumption, tenacity, and his ethics. Which is probably why his attack stung so much when I read it!

      • Randy Watson


        I agree with you both! Really not professional of Parker to make these comments for many reasons.

      • SMahlatz


        There is a massive difference! As you say yourself : "The great thing about blogs is there is no barrier to entry." Parker didn't start his "BLOG" on such a widely accessible platform. When you are working with traditional media, you need to be very careful and precise about what you want to say, because you only get one go.

  • Josh


    GREAT post. Well written and far too logical. It's a shame really, that good, well thought-out pieces like this don't get the attention they deserve. Where's the hyperbole??

    Josh

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, bro. I can add more hyperbole if you need some… :-)

      I can't decide if you're saying that no one is reading this blog but they should be, or that people are reading it but I deserve some kind of James Beard award… either way, I'll take it!

      • Josh


        More towards the latter, considering the number of comments! :-p

        • 1WineDude


          Maybe I should retire now while I'm ahead then! :)

  • David J


    Outdid yourself with this one, Joe. Kudos, kudos, kudos!

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, David. By the way – LOVED the King Crimson vid you posted… :-).

  • ryan


    Robert Parket was the first blogger, and back then everyone thought he was an insane nut job for his predictions on the '82 vintage. But he proved himself. That was after 7+ years of his own "blogging"/writing … We have(some of us) around 4-5 years, barely, of track record. I have a feeling we don't need to bother with this anymore. IN a few more years we'll be into the new age of wine writing fully and life will be grand. :)

    Another point though, there are PLENTY of CRAP JOURNALIST IN MAIN STREAM MEDIA! Why are they never called out? Every small town in america has a "wine writer/food and wine writer" and while they probably have the same circulation numbers as blogs, they never get called out for their insane ramblings and incorrect wine knowledge. Hell, in the end the "cream" rises, and crap journalist never make it to the big time, and crap bloggers, never get read…no one has time to bother!

    That said I disagree with many top bloggers opinions, they get read because they are smart, but differ in opinion with other people. I disagree with them not because they are bloggers, but because they hold views I disagree with. Parker would do himself good, by saying I disagree with X_person, rather than malign a whole category of publishers.

    my two cents

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks – I think that statement is worth more like $20, not $0.02!

      I suppose time – and influence – will tell the tale, eventually.

    • Larry Chandler


      Robert Parker was actually not the first person to put words to paper about wine in a newsletter format. There was a guy named Robert Finnigan who was doing that fairly successfully for several years prior. What put Mr. Parker on the map was his correct assessment of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage. He praised it highly while Finnegan disparaged it. And after that, no one paid attention to Finnegan.

      Technology changes, people come up with new ideas, and you gain as well as lose something in the process. Those bloggers with something to say will succeed, those who do not, will not. Robert Parker is no longer "the" authority, if he ever was. The King is Dead. Long Live the…..People.

      • 1WineDude


        Thanks, Larry – but I can now blame you for having John Lennon's "Power to the People" stuck in my head…

  • Dirty


    Bloggers are having very little direct influence on Parker's reign in BDX — except that they are now being mentioned. But none have the experience of RP and can even come close to being as influential (even all combined) in BDX as him. WS, Jancis, and others still don't touch him (combined). But- what this is showing– is that there is buzz, something brewing, growing, and he is not part of the equation. His current generation of readers, is likely his last.

  • Dirty


    Also—Where I disagree is in your statement that Wine Bloggers and blog readers aren't collectors, and want good wine to drink now. A lot of my readers are collectors (small, large, and re-donk-u-lous) and buy for both now and future enjoyment. I'm a collector (though not of BDX). I want to encourage people to collect (or at least hold)- so that they can enjoy and experience the beauty that can only come from mature wine.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Dirty – great points. I'd wager that *most* bloggers and readers aren't hard-core collectors of wine, but that of course doesn't preclude uber-collectors from being in the blogger (or blog reader) ranks.

  • Tish


    This is a strong post, Dude. Especially like your likening Parker to being a blogging pioneer, before there were blogs. I would wager my last bottle of Mouton he can't name a single one of "those notorious blogs." His approach to bloggers — or "blobbers" as he has called them on his eBob forum — show hubris, disrespect and ignorance. And he seems to think that he has put bloggers in their place, perhaps hoping he won't have to deal with them anymore. Of course he is wrong.

    • 1WineDude


      Interesting, I hadn't thought of that angle. I really hope that wasn't his intention, because you'd have a better chance of herding phylloxera mites than cornering the blogging world! :)

  • Dirty


    Well, they should be ; )

    Baby-killers!!!! The whole lot of you!!!! ; )

  • Felicia


    I say Viva La Vino Bloggers! – or Blobbers if you prefer:) Great post.

    • 1WineDude


      Cheers!

  • Dirty


    Well, they should be ; ) Baby-killers!!!! The whole lot of you!!!! ; )

  • shiz37


    Oh, Bobber. *Sigh*

    Great post, Joe! Its kind of refreshing to read a blog post about this whole shebang that isn't completely NASTY. I think the sad thing about the Parker-Blogger Hate-orade is that Parker seems to be missing the point that wine blogging is actually, on the whole, GOOD for the wine industry. Because so many different perspectives can be put forth through the blog-osphere, any type of wine lover can find somebody online that they identify with, either in wine experience (newbie to collector) or palate (I heart Syrah, so do you) or what have you. Maybe some of us newbies, through connecting with others online and elsewhere along our wine journeys, will work our way up to collectors, at which point Robert Parker's perspective on the 2008 Bordeaux vintage might be really helpful for us and BOOM, new readers for Bobber.

    But most of us fail to see the big picture, instead focusing on our own pieces of the puzzle and hoping that nobody steals OUR thunder. Robert Parker can choose to adapt to the changes in the wine industry to remain relevant, or he can choose to lash out at a growing community, alienate potential and current readership, and get left out of what I feel is the biggest movement in the wine industry since the repeal of Prohibition.

    Whatever. Your move, Parker.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks – I tried to walk the line on this post, and I'm not out for an all-out attack on Parker. He just happened to piss me off *this time*. :-)

  • Ron McFarland


    OK – at the upcoming blogger conference you should create a special "Pioneer Blogger Award" and present it to Robert Parker.

    Just disappointing to see a slug fest – when everyone should be cheering for the new communication platforms. The future will not be decided by bloggers but rather consumers who embrace certain flows of information.

    Good effort – stay calm.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks – blood pressure is returning to normal…

  • uzi


    My first instinct was to agree with Ryan and Sonadora that attaching blogger is like attaching pencil holders vs. pen holders, it's only a medium. However, this will not do justice to the blogging medium, which is much more of an interactive communication tool than a Newsletter. So, there are differences between what Parker did 30 years a go and what bloggers are doing today. Dialog.
    However, what we have in common is that blogging is new medium, which is what Parker's newsletter was 30 years ago. I can't help but wonder what it will be like 30 years from now when the blogging community will be mainstream media. ;-)

    Lastly, I do not read much of Parker, but like you Joe, I think that his expectations were so low that I am not sure I trust his opinion on the 2008 now. Anything will taste pretty good if you are expecting cr*p.

    • 1WineDude


      Good point about the dialog – good example being what's going on right here in the comments! You're name is a little scary, by the way (not that there is anything wrong with that… please don't hurt me!….). Cheers!

  • Catie


    Great post Joe and thanks for bringing this out in the open. I have viewed Mr. Parker as a profl and for him to take off on this "blobber" tirade has me disappointed and stumped by his actions. It's not to say I have totally agreed with him, but he did have my admiration for building the Parker empire and it gave me hope for others (or even myself) the possibility to achieve what he has. Now I have to question his motives for his recent tirade. Is the Prince of Points scared that he can no longer rest on his laurel crown, so it's easier to blame the bloggers instead of shining up his image and adopt the attitude "if you can't beat 'em (bloggers), join 'em." Or is this his way of bringing the focus back on him. Let's face it, there is a new GaryV generation who either doesn't know Parker or doesn't care and as we all know – bad publicity is better than no publicity at all. And with Parker lashing out at the bloggers, he now has plenty of publicity, which he may have manipulated. If so, he can thank his "blobbers" for that.

  • Arthur


    "…and doesn’t make a premature assessments…"

    It's two thousand @#$%ing nine! The wines in question are about FIVE MONTHS out of the vineyard!

    • 1WineDude


      Good point. I am sure that part of the point was "hey, listen to me, I'm actually going to Bord'x and tasting for myself unlike these other yahoos" regardless of how quickly the tasting came after harvest.

      And I'm totally ok with that. It's just that the other yahoos are never mentioned and so RP is too casually dismissing the whole blogging movement. Not cool.

  • Catie


    >>viewed Mr. Parker as a profl

    That should be viewed Mr. Parker as a professional.

  • 1WineDude


    True. Seems a bit calculated but I suppose it's still possible. Do you think he'd get many TWA subscribers / converts from the blog-reading world over this? Just curious what you think. Cheers!

    • Catie


      Of course it is calculated! Do you think Parker got where he is today by dumb luck? And as far as new subscribers/converts, I think there is a good chance he will get a few from the blog-reading world – – and for a couple reasons: 1.) hey, we want to know what he is saying about us. 2.) giving bloggers more fuel to blog about.

      • 1WineDude


        Good point…

  • Tish


    Catie, one of the unspoken issues here is Gary V's relative silence. This new generation is quite real and broad, and they listen to Gary. Unfortunately, even Gary knows he owes a huge debt to Parker and WS for giving him the ratings to use in his passionate reviews. I would hope at some point Gary will chime in, but I am not holding my breath.

  • 1WineDude


    Just link to him a lot in another comment and he'll probably show up :-).

  • Ted


    Excellent intro, body and a long, detailed finish. 93pts.

    I also agree with ryan's comments, well said.

    Parkers on his way out (but somehow I think the 100pt scale is here to stay)

    • 1WineDude


      Just glad I scored over 90…

  • Catie


    Tish, if I were Gary I would not chime in.

  • JLB


    "he undermines his own credibility, gaining nothing as he lashes out at shadows that don’t even care about his existence. "

    Seems to me that if you truly didn't care about Parker's existence, you wouldn't have taken the time to create this entry.

    Regards,

    jb

    • 1WineDude


      You know, I thought a lot about that after I wrote it. The fact of the matter is that I *do* care, but I think that there's a growing number of bloggers/consumers/etc. who don't. Most bloggers are not out to get Parker – RP doesn't even register on their radar screens. The point is more that he should be engaging bloggers in a different way than lumping them into one large bucket and dismissing them wholesale.

      • Catie


        Joe, I agree with you about how Parker should be embracing us instead of dismissing us. And any blogger who may have looked to Parker and emulated his style with either his point system or designed their own, he should take this as a form of flattery. Instead it appears, by his actions, he feels threatened. And as far as caring, we all care or we wouldn't feel so offended by someone that we have modeled our wine journey on.

  • Larry Chandler


    I'm not sure why bloggers are so upset that Robert Parker doesn't love them. First, they are invading his territory and he wants to protect his turf. Not that this turf is really "his" but he more or less did own the space of fine wine reviews. Losing control is not something that anyone really relishes, even if it's inevitable.

    But I think his point is that he has made an effort (not always successfully) to ensure his reviews are untainted by commercial bias. That is, his reviews can't be "bought." Wine reviewers before Parker were in fact notorious for the gifts the wineries bestowed on them in return for a favorable writeup. He also feels he has an experienced and well-trained palate.

    Many bloggers also meet the above criteria. But many don't. It's easy to write "XYZ Winery's Chardonnay is a beautifully crisp unoaked wine with aromas of pear and apple" when in fact the wine was aged in oak for a year, went through complete malo, and is more tropical fruit. Plus the winery is a client of the blogger and was told to help the winery increase sales or the winery would no longer be a client. If the blogger hasn't built up a reputation, who's to say?

    Parker spent years building up his reputation. Just like newspapers that have invested millions if not billions of dollars in newsprint, equipment, staff, reporters, etc. only to see their audience run to news bloggers, there is resentment of these "newcomers" who didn't "pay their dues." Well, so be it. Industries fail, and sometimes the replacements aren't as good. But they replace the oldtimers anyway.

    I think that the good bloggers will rise to the top, the bad ones and the dishonest ones will fail (at least I hope so), and that people who read wine reviews will continue to have a source of information about wines, no matter what the source.

    But don't blame Parker. It would be nice to be recognized by him. But unless we write simply for other bloggers, we can keep on writing, reviewing, tasting, talking and blogging. Recognition will come. Maybe even from Robert Parker.

    • 1WineDude


      Nicely put.

  • Mario


    All in all, we are all critics, regardless of our status in the wine industry or number of purchases we have done in the retail medium.

    For Robert Parker to undermine the words of "bloggers" just causes a disservice to the industry and causes a negative spin in that his words are the "be all end all" and that we all must bow before his Bordeaux-… Read Morequaffing self.

    So I (or others for that matter) can't say "Wow! This '07 Alsatian Gewurtztraminer is a great value" without him pointing out how flawed my opinion is? (Correct me if I'm wrong)

  • 1WineDude


    Thanks, Mario – good point, and RP himself has often said that his palate and opinion are just one set among many…

  • kevin keith


    Joe,

    Nicely done.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks. Wonder if I've been automatically banned from the eBob forums now?

  • 1WineDude


    Apologies to those whose comments are being "eaten alive" by IntenseDebate. I'm having the same issue. Where I've noticed them and have been emailed copies, I'm trying to repost them but I may not get them all.

    Sorry about the ID FAIL! I will open a support ticket with them today.

    THANK YOU for all the great comments and discussion!

  • Steve Heimoff


    It's ironic that Parker — who once was young and unknown — got his start by lauding the 1982 Bordeaux. I don't recall anyone calling him an upstart nobody who could string a noun and a verb together. Just shows that when some people get on top, they dump on those below them, rather than reaching out and being collegial — which is what I tried to do when I started blogging.

    • 1WineDude


      Well, Steve, there are some holes in that statement:

      1) You didn't call the `82 Bord'x vintage
      2) Didn't you dump on *me* when you started blogging?
      3) You're a blogger so what the hell do you know anyway?!??

      ;-)

      In all seriousness, there is certainly some irony in all of this. Especially considering that RP would have been embraced wholeheartedly by bloggers if he had reached out to them.

  • Michael Wangbickler


    I don't really have anything to add, but figured that since everybody else was posting a comment, that I should too. :)

    Great post Joe!

    • 1WineDude


      Hey, thanks. So… uhm… how\'s the weather out west? ;-)

      • Michael Wangbickler


        Sunny and 70. Perfect weather after all the rain we were having.

  • Alfonso Cevola


    2008 Bordeaux reports here http://bit.ly/124JBd what's this Parker is saying about reports from notorious blogs and irresponsible bloggers?

    • 1winedude5036


      Wish we knew – but Parker never names the notorious blogs…

  • 1winedude5036


    Is it wrong for me to hate you?

    Actually, we\\'ve got the same here today, so I suppose I should just shut up… :-)

  • Jeremy


    Nice post. Well executed. You are commended for your work!

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks – I appreciate the feedback!

  • Dennis


    One of my favorite quotes is Winston Churchill's “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.” The negativism against wine bloggers in Parker's comments is disturbing. He is in an unassailable position of influence in the wine world that makes him a target for criticism, never-the-less, allow him to be gracious without limit. Why he's not being gracious and taking aim at bloggers brings questions and is interesting. Wine bloggers should stand up for their opinions and posts. From the collective whole will come truth.

  • tommerle


    Methinks you doth protest too much, dude. Parker was rightly attacking false (premature) reporting and then rumor mongering which blogs regardless of the subject matter certainly contribute to. It is the nature of the beast, with some beasts practicing more caution and prudence. And, logically, I don't think he was dismissing blogs qua blogs, just their structural looseness; that anyone can send anything into cyberspace.

    This problem bedevils all sorts of business activity–just look at the various tech oriented sites that are constantly trying to scoop each other and oftentimes getting it wrong. Bloggers do have to rely on second hand reports; they can't go flying off to meet with the actual source of the news, unless you have the resources of Slate or The Huffington Post.

  • 1WineDude


    Now this (for me anyway!) is fascinating – the two comments above from Tom and Dennis show interesting and opposite sides of the same coin for blogging.

    On one side, Tom is rightly pointing out that blogging is open to the publishing of crap and misinformation because it has low/no barriers to entry and therefore attracts those without credibility.

    On the other side, Dennis is pointing out (also correctly) that the lack of barriers to entry in blogging gives bloging an opportunity not only to quickly produce relevant content but also to self-police as a collective entity.

    And somehow I think both are true.

  • 1WineDude


    The story continues – 2 GREAT takes on Parker v. Bloggers are up at Cepage Noir: http://is.gd/y8kB & at SteveHeimoff.com : http://is.gd/y8kN

    Cheers!

  • genevelyn


    Remember Neil Martin's wine blog?
    http://www.wine-journal.com/
    He now writes for Parker.

    • 1winedude5036


      Well, that is interesting. I guess he\\'s not one of the notorious ones…

    • 1WineDude


      He's not one of the Notorious few then? :-)

  • 1WineDude


    So he isn't one of the infamous ones, then? :-)

  • 1WineDude


    Ironic since RP himself, on his website, indicates that his rating palate is just one among many…

  • Heather Denaro


    Being called notorious makes me feel like a gangsta. Yea thats it, Heather Denaro.."The gangsta of wine" Knockin back bottles at it starts with a grape. I'm just kidding, kind of ; ) Maybe Mr. Robert missed that memo about this being the uber techno era, urging all to not bash bloggers, lest we unleash the wrath of the internet upon them via thousands of disgruntled comments ; )

    • 1WineDude


      I like the gangsta angle. I could have ran with that as a theme in the post… damn, missed opportunity! OK, I gotta go listen to The Roots' Game Theory now…

  • WinewithoutBS


    I give that article 87 points :) It's well written but lacks care factor for me and its length reduces one's time in the day allocated for drinking wine. Getting all worked up over what Robert Parker says about the blogging community is about as helpful to us all as his weather reports and pre-harvest forecasts!

    • 1WineDude


      Fair enough. Of course, the only logical way to read through this thread is with an open bottle by your side…

  • WineLife365


    Robert Parker realizes that he is no longer relevant, and his defense mechanism has kicked in! He knows that the vast majority of wine drinkers want to know what other real people (with no agenda) think about wine. This is why he attacks bloggers.

    • 1WineDude


      I wonder about that, actually. I mean, RP is certainly relevant, he moves tons of wine. But I do think that he is losing touch perhaps, since most consumers can't touch the wines that he reviews out of Bordeaux…

      • RobBralow


        Are RP's ratings for the consumers (the masses of people walking into wine stores) or for the trade?

        Or perhaps thought of a different way, who is it that owns a subscription to WA?

        • 1WineDude


          Good question. I'd always assumed it was people in the trade, or those who were Bord'x collectors.

  • BristolDentalImplant


    I see most blogs as personal diaries with lots of opinions and borrowed information. There is nothing wrong with that and again there are blogs out there that are very informative and written by very knowledgeable peeps.

  • Jess Brungard


    I believe you actually, I do think! Will that be plausible to be able to have your webblog translated in to French? English is actually my own 2nd language.

  • 1WineDude


    You're probably right, John. Any press, as they say…

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