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Neal Martin promises ‘a more funky’ approach as Parker quits en primeur

Neal Martin promises “a more funky” approach to en primeur reporting for The Wine Advocate following the announcement last night that Parker is to stop reviewing Bordeaux in barrel after 37 years.

Robert Parker described Neal Martin (pictured above) as “much hipper”

Speaking yesterday at a press conference in London, Martin said that he was “looking forward to covering the 14s”, as he takes over the tasting of Bordeaux in barrel from Robert Parker, a development you can read more about here.

“You are only as good as the next thing you write,” said Martin, noting that he was relishing the opportunity to bring subscribers of The Wine Advocate ( a report on this year’s primeurs.

He then warned those present at yesterday evening’s press conference in London’s Landmark Hotel that his vintage account “may be a bit more funky than in the past… wine writing should always be enjoyable to read as well as informative”.

Parker commented that he had taken on Martin because he wanted a different style of wine writing for The Wine Advocate to attract a more youthful audience.

Robert Parker announced that Neal Martin would take over rating Bordeaux en primeur at at press conference in London yesterday

“I hired Neal because I wanted a younger voice… we are always trying to reach younger demographics, it’s necessary for survival, and Neal was much hipper than me – I knew that his way of writing about wine was very different from my style.”

Parker then stressed that it would “just” be Martin who would be reviewing Bordeaux 2014 for The Wine Advocate this year, and joked, “he is the new Sheriff of Nottingham”.

He also said that he had appointed Martin in 2006 because he believed that the UK-based wine writer had the experience and ability to take on the role of covering en primeur Bordeaux.

“When I hired Neal this was part of the plan, that one day I would back away from en primeurs, and the time is perfect for me to hand over these responsibilities,” he said.

Noting that Martin has 18 years experience tasting en primeur Bordeaux, Parker stressed that his replacement’s experience was far greater than his own when he started reviewing Bordeaux for The Wine Advocate.

“Neal has 18 years’ experience, but I thought I was good enough to do the job with no experience,” he said, referring to his first en primeur report on the 1978 vintage in Bordeaux.

“He is probably the second most experienced guy to do it,” he stated.

Nevertheless, he described the en primeur report as “a huge responsibility”, and said it “was an exhausting job”.

Continuing, he said that “the Bordelais this year have more pressure than ever, with three unsold vintages in their cellars.”

He also recorded that as a result of high prices for recent lesser vintages, Bordeaux has ‘lost a big share of the American market, the wines are disappearing from restaurants, and a lot of that is their [the Bordelais] fault – they have not been realistic with prices on 2011s, 12s or the 13s.”

While Martin will be covering Bordeaux in barrel, Parker will continue to cover the region’s wines in bottle, and Parker will be going to Bordeaux in March to rate the 2012s, while he will be doing a retrospective assessment of 2005 Bordeaux in April.

Martin has been working for The Wine Advocate since 2006 and is based in Guildford. He has been covering Burgundy for the publication, and since last year Oregon too, while he also reports on the wines from South Africa, which he described yesterday as “one of the most exciting New World countries”.

He also said that he does “a bit on Tokaji and Madeira because I love the wines”.

Referring to his seven reporters (listed below), who were all present in London yesterday, Parker said, “The common theme of this group is that they are all very independent minded, very knowledgeable, and very gifted at what they do.”

The Wine Advocate Reviewers in London
The reviewers for The Wine Advocate are (left to righ): Stephan Reinhardt; Monica Larner; Jeb Dunnuck; Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW; Robert Parker; Neal Martin; Mark Squires; Luis Gutierrez (Picture taken by Patrick Schmitt at The Wine Advocate press conference in London on 25 February 2015)

To read more about Neal Martin click here.

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