In a stunning reversal of unwritten policy, the wine industry’s most powerful critic, Robert M. Parker, Jr. and his fellow staff members at the publication he founded, The Wine Advocate, held a press conference earlier today to “apologize for our recent boorish, bullying behavior.”
“We at The Wine Advocate have, in short, been terribly, terribly wrong in our actions,” admitted Parker to a packed crowd of seven wine industry veterans gathered near his home in Monkton, Maryland. “My god, our behavior has been so infantile and vile that I don’t even know where to start, quite frankly. Oh, are those cookies over there? Could someone pass those?”
Parker began by extending a virtual vinous olive branch to Jon Bonne and Eric Asimov, wine writers for the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times, respectively. Both men were publicly derided by Parker as unprofessional in a post in the online bulletin board of Parker’s website. “Really, that was totally uncalled for, and bitingly ironic considering that only a few days before I had, in their presence, publicly called for more civility among wine writers. I mean, dang, I’m making the whole profession look like a bunch of douchebags when I do things like that!” He then slammed his open right palm into his forehead, temporarily shaking the stage and causing microphone feedback that delayed the remainder of the press conference for several minutes. The normally recalcitrant Parker had been referring to statements he made as the keynote speaker at a wine writers conference, given only a short time before his remarks about Bonne and Asimov, both of whom were in the audience during Parker’s keynote address.
Parker was followed by several The Wine Advocate staff writers and critics in offering public apologies, including Master of Wine Lisa Perrotti-Brown, who referred to her mis-identification and lambasting of Bonne’s and Asimov’s “new California wines” session at the 2014 Professional Wine Writers Symposium in Napa, California (in which she mistakenly referred to wines that weren’t actually poured during the session) a “real fuck-up.” On the bulletin board, Perrotti-Brown called the wines “vaguely interesting,” “neutral,” “dilute,” and “flavorless, without vibrancy and texture, not unlike most of wine writing itself these days.”
“Well, what can I say, I just balled that up big time,” she told reporters and industry insiders…
“I mean, I posted that on the internet, right? And, well, if I had access to the internet, I could have just looked up the wines that were poured instead of guessing them, or maybe fact-checked it with Asimov or Bonne before I posted.” In her update, Perrotti-Brown told bulletin board readers that sub-par Cabernet Franc and Pinot Grigio wines had been poured, when in fact those varieties did not make up any of the wines on offer during the session, which Parker criticized without having attended himself. She also remarked that TWA would be withdrawing its legal actions taken against blogger Tyler Colman, a long-time Parker critic who first published details of the bizarre online exchange, which originally appeared behind a “pay-wall.”
The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck also took the podium to offer apologies to “the world’s wine bloggers, who, after all, are the talented and budding future of our profession.” Dunnuck revealed that he “was having some sleepless nights” after calling one American wine blogger “a dick” via social media outlet Twitter. “Just… Romper Room, fourth-grader, stupid shit on my part,” Dunneck concluded. “Bloggers are an important part of the wine writing and critic ecosystem, and their efforts should be encouraged, because they help keep the space transparent and help focus us on living up to the high standards we set for ourselves as some of the hardest-working people in wine. And while we do set a high bar for work ethic, we at TWA need to stop pretending that alone gives us carte blanche to forgo the high road when someone criticizes us. And man, I could really go for a low-acid red right now!”
In closing remarks, Parker again called for another cease-fire in the ongoing war of words between wine writers, a group rife with factions that regularly speak out against – and at odds with – one another. He indicated that, as “a gesture of good faith,” he was looking forward to enjoying “some interesting orange wines” with his “new friend,” longtime Parker critic Alice Fiering.
Reaction to the event was mixed. While some praised the wine world’s preeminent critic and The Wine Advocate staff members for apparently ending their internecine battles with other Wine writers, other attendees expressed doubt about the sincerity of the apologies.
When asked for comments after the session, wine blogger Joe Roberts, who attended because he “was based relatively close by in Philly, and found myself surprisingly sober enough to drive today” was particularly acerbic, and remarked that he “didn’t believe a word” of the seemingly heartfelt mea culpa by Parker and his staff.
“Ok,” remarked Roberts, “we know how this story ends, because we’ve seen it before. On his way home from here, Parker will probably tweet that bloggers are a bunch of assholes, and then they’ll all get in a tizzy because he didn’t live up to his elder wine writer statesman status, which is stupid to get upset about anyway since by now that’s about as surprising as the sun rising in the east, and as obvious as pointing out that George Lucas has a neck beard. Hey, do you know if they’re serving any wine after this? ‘Cuz if not, I am totally out of here…”
[ Editor's note: none of the above actually took place, except in a pretty screwed up dream I had recently... ]