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12.06.2005

More Sniping at The Top of The Wine World

Like the Royal Family trading insults or the latest antics of Scientology obsessed celebrities, I continue to be fascintated with the sniping that takes place at the top of the wine world, as critics, and the critics of critics let loose. Invariably it involves Robert Parker, the powerful critic that can't help but be at the center of most shit-storms when it comes to flagrant opinions about what is good, what is bad, and how little the critics know anyway. Earlier in the year he ran afoul of Hugh Johnson, who ended up calling him a "dictator of taste" among other things, and he's crossed swords with Jancis Robinson a while ago over whether a particular vintage of Chateau Pavie was any good.

This time, Parker is trading blows with Australian wine critic James Halliday after Parker published the most recent issue of his monthly newsletter, which focused on Australia's wines. The issue, Parker's latest ratings, of course. Specifically, Halliday is charging that Parker's ratings for Australia's top wines are significantly different than the scoring results from Australian national competitions (presumably implying that because the competitions are scored by groups of judges that they are more "correct"). Additionally, Halliday claims that Parker made his judgements after tasting only 10% of a particular regions wines.

Whooeee. Can you see the smoke from where you are?

Parker fired back that Halliday and his panels of judges were "Euro-imitators" and industry cronies, claiming that over half the judges in Halliday's cited competitions were industry aligned. Parker went on to call the wines that Halliday and others had selected for medals "vapid, innocuous and no better than very minor wines."

Who needs soap operas when you've got stuff like this? I find it hard that these folks take what is clearly the product of a subjective occupation so seriously, but then again I'm not a professional wine critic. Maybe I'd understand it all a bit more if I made my living doing this. I hope, though, that I'd have a bit more of a sense of humor.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.