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Thursday Thorns
It’s Bash Parker Time Again

By Charles Olken

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a motion that the wine blogosphere take a chill pill and stop overreacting to Robert Parker. We all know that Mr. Parker is, even in his dotage, the most formidable critic in the wine world. If we want to debate that point, and whether his moon is waxing or waning, then fine, debate that point. But, so many folks have taken off on him and his style that he has finally struck back verbally. One cannot find his original commentary in full because it is on his eRobertParker website and available only to those who pay him to read his opinions.

But, be that as it may, Alder Yarrow, in his blog, Vinography, and Steve Heimoff in his blog, Steve Heimoff, have managed to give us the gist of what Mr. Parker had to say. Sort of. Because if you read their comments on the Parker commentary, you come away with totally different views of the world. Yarrow, in his gentlemanly way, is against, and Heimoff, in his own inimitable fashion, is decidedly pro-Parker. Address of both blogs appears at the bottom of this screed if you have not, like me, yawned and walked away.

Yet, as I walk away, I just do not get why it is necessary for anyone in the wine world to proclaim that there is a good way or a bad way to make wine—short of offering up something so loaded with faults that it is chemically flawed. Other than that, whether wine is light and high in acidity or full-bodied, loaded with fruit and designed for big flavors should not be a matter for debate about propriety. Propriety begins and ends with individuals be they winemakers or consumers or, heaven help me, winewriters. We all have opinions. They are like noses. And just like noses, if they are capable of smelling the roses, then anything else is just window dressing.

Parker spoke out. He was obviously frustrated. Those who have used the occasion to criticize everything about him may be entitled to their opinions, but they are also telling us that they, not Parker know the true way. Those who support Parker unilaterally do so by ignoring the self-serving nature of his rant. His points may be good or bad, but at their heart, they call for open-mindedness with respect to the views of everyone else and to allow people to choose their favorite tipples without being subjected to judgment about their palates.

That is the essence of what good wine conversation should be about.

Steve Heimoff:


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by TomHill
Posted on:1/31/2014 11:54:57 AM

Well, Charlie....I think much of the so-called "Parker bashing" is brought on by himself.

   Having read his original rant (not a subscriber...sent to me by a friend who is), the tone of it was pretty heavy-handed. He bashed "natural" wines, alternative varieties, low-alcohol wines pretty strongly and all of those who like those kinds of wines and those ("blobbers") who write blogs on those wines. He appears not to have encountered any Calif skin-contact whites or "orange" (skin-contact whites made in an oxidative definition) wine or he would have surely bashed them as well. As I like to try many of those wines myself, I would feel entitled to bash back...had I a wine blog or some such forum. Fortunately, Parker is so irrelevant to my wine world, as are most published wine critics,  that I wouldn't have bothered to waste my time on him responding.

   The winemakers that I know who make "natural" wines, low-alcohol wines, alternative varieties, "orange" wines are pretty low-key about what they're doing and are not bashing the other guy's wines. They don't declare that their's is the only "good" way to make those wines and that all the other winemakers of mainstream wines are doofuses. They just say "here's what I'm doing" and let the marketplace decide if it's right or wrong. Truth be told, most winemakers choose to make their wines in in a style they like to drink themselves. If they don't...they don't stay in business long.

   Most of the folks I note who pronounce their style of wine "right" and the others "wrong" are the wine writers & bloggers, not the winemakers. Some are pretty blatent/outspoken about their preferences (can you say AliceFeiring?) and others are a bit more subtle (can you say JonBonne?) about it.

   To the end of the's like you say: "call for open-mindedness with respect to the views of everyone else and to allow people to choose their favorite tipples without being subjected to judgment about their palates." I'm 100 points on that thought, Charlie.



Silly Tom
by Harry Oldman
Posted on:1/31/2014 2:38:46 PM

Oh, Mr. Hill... of course there are "right" styles and "wrong" styles. Why else have infallible critics? 100 pts is a right wine and 75 points is a wrong wine. It's as simple as that. You're overthinking something that you shouldn't even have to think about! That's what the critics are for!

Write Is Right
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:1/31/2014 4:19:32 PM

If I write it, then it is right--for me. Anyone who reads CGCW knows that and relies on my/our opinion only after developing faith in CGCW opinions.

Parker may have expressed his frustration with those who call him names and then offer their own narrow visions as reality but at least he has paid his dues and has thousands of followers who agree with him.

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