Larger than life: Profiling Parker

Are you planning to retire any time soon?

Neal-MartinWell, Neal Martin was hired for taking over tasting en primeur Bordeaux. He’s a young guy, but he’s got 18 years experience [tasting en primeur], but no I’m not retiring; I think retirement is a formula for death. I can’t imagine stepping out of the wine world completely. The key at my age is to pick and choose what you want to do. So I’m going to continue to do Bordeaux from bottle, and I’m going to continue to do northern California, and vertical tastings, and whatever I want to write about, and I think that’s a more manageable, but there’s no question that stepping away from en primeur is a huge transfer of responsibility and authority.

Considering how much you love the wines from Rhône, why did you give up reviewing the region?

Jeb DunnuckThe reason is Jeb Dunnuck. He is a young Robert Parker. He is energetic, we have very similar palates, and I think he’s a natural. If he hadn’t been out there – he already had a publication called The Rhône Report that he was doing even though he was a programmer for NASA – I probably would have kept it because I do love the Rhône and I still love the Rhône. So yes I miss it, but when I read Jeb it’s like I’m reading myself.

You must have regrets from your career. What are they?

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. 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? But 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. 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.

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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