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Robert Parker says sorry to Burgundy

Robert Parker has admitted to the drinks business that he was “too belligerent with the Burgundians”.

Although Parker is best known for rating Bordeaux, he reviewed Burgundy for 15 years

During an exclusive interview with db earlier this year, which was published in the June edition of the magazine, the world’s most influential wine critic said that he had regrets from his 37 years spent reviewing wines for The Wine Advocate, especially concerning his treatment of Burgundian producers from 1978 to 1993.

“Sure there are always regrets, and I think the biggest mistake was when I was younger and doing Burgundy that I was too belligerent and aggressive with the Burgundians; I stepped on too many toes,” he said.

However, he stressed that his motives were well-intentioned. “I wasn’t trying to get them to change the way they made wine but to recognize some of the issues with their wines once they left Burgundy, for example, why weren’t they shipped in refrigerated containers? Or why did they have mobile bottling plants that were filtering the hell out of the wines – why weren’t they using less bruising techniques?”

Nevertheless, Parker acknowledged that his approach would have angered the Burgundians. “I’ve learned through age that we all can make those points much more diplomatically. I made them way too bluntly, aggressively, and was often probably rude, and I think part of the problem was that my French – which is very good now – at that time was sort of basic travel French, and I think when you talk to someone with just an elementary knowledge of a language then you can’t express subtleties or nuances.”

Concluding, he commented, “So my very blunt, direct French wasn’t well received, and of course the fact that it was coming from an American made it even worse.”

Although Parker is best known for rating Bordeaux, he in fact worked in Burgundy for a month every year between 1978 to 1993, and only stopped reviewing the region’s wines after he was sued for libel by Domaine Faiveley for suggesting that the producer’s wines tasted different in the US – although the case was settled out of court.

As he told db, “I spilled too much blood and left.”

To read the full interview with Robert Parker, see the June edition of The Drinks Business.

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