Larger than life: Profiling Parker

Are you frustrated that the châteaux-owners have consistently increased their release prices, ignoring your advice that they should raise them only in “great” vintages?

The Wine Advocate's chief executive, Robert Parker

From the very beginning I’ve been a wine consumer, independent of the wine trade, and I’ve always said that in order to succeed in this business you have to have a long-term vision. It’s sad that I’ve beaten these themes into so many people that I know well, that I consider professionals and acquaintances. I have enormous respect and admiration for what they achieve in the vineyards and wineries, and yet when it comes to pricing their wine they totally ignore that. They certainly recognise that I’m a person who travels the world, and understands the Chinese market, the Japanese market, the Korean, European, American market, a person who has a perspective that has been gained through 37 years, and yet they dismiss that because they don’t want to sell their wine at a few euros less, or half a euro less than their neighbour. That doesn’t make sense, but they’ve been doing it, and the chickens are going to come to roost unless they really drop prices in 2014.

Considering your influence, you must have been offered many bribes over the years, but what’s been the most extreme?

No-one has ever blatantly asked for high scores, but early on in my career I had a guy come down and offer me an antique Napoleonic music box, but I don’t want to mention who that was. But more often, you are at the château, and a young woman is sent over, and they seem overtly flirtatious, and they know nothing about wine, so what conclusion are you supposed to reach?

And what about threats?

I had death threats. I had an answering machine in the office, and from September to early November 1990 I had 10 different messages with death threats. I called the authorities and they put a trap on the phone and they traced it to a retailer in New York where there was this guy who was mad at me because he had underpriced the ‘82s.

One Response to “Larger than life: Profiling Parker”

  1. Cyrene says:

    A Hard-working man, modest, with a solid sense of humor, who love wines and food, with a true dignity and a sense of honesty that most journalists could only dream of. He did a lot for the world, getting dozens of millions to understand and aprreciate wine. Thank you Sir Robert, for what you have done and for always being true to your word. The wine world owes you a colossal statue to show its gratitude.

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