-Posted by Alfonso Cevola-
The 1982 Bordeaux wines are almost 30 years old now. That was the vintage that launched a thousand boats, proclaimed the virtual dawn of the new age of wine in America, according to such wine sages such as Eric Asimov at the New York Times. Perhaps this is the time to take a quick look towards Bordeaux.
Robert Parker is the undisputed king of the ratings, and his track record of tasting and consistency is stronger than the rest of the pack, in my opinion. I have read most of the criticisms, and have also looked at his videos (behind the erobertparker.com paywall). In addition, I have tasted through many of the Bordeaux vintages over the years; although by no means consider myself an expert. But an enthusiast, yes. Bottom line for me is, Robert Parker works hard at it and he is good; really, really good. There is a reason why his opinion is listened to and his influence is (still) large.
So when Robert Parker re-reviewed the 2009 vintages ( which he calls “1982 Déjà Vu All Over Again – But Greater”) and anointed many top Bordeaux wines with 100 point and 99+ point (near perfect) scores, it set the geeky wine world a buzzing.
Some questions have been raised.
- Is the reign of Robert Parker over?
- Is the search on for his replacement (for Bordeaux) in motion at the Wine Advocate?
- Are traditional wine reviews (and reviewers) a thing of the past?
- How will prices be affected with the new (2011) vintage in light of the latest gloss on the 2009s?
As I see it, there is room for the traditional reviews (and reviewers) from America, Great Britain, France and anywhere else in the world. There is also a place for these upstart bloggers, some of which have great palates and marketable writing skills, along with sizable traffic and influence.
In my view, Robert Parker’s competition is a little closer to home. As the great American dancer Martha Graham once said, “You are only in competition with one person, and that is the person you can become.” As well, The Robert Parker of 1982 and the Robert Parker of 2012 are really competing with each other. As for the rest of us, it’s win-win; a man rising to become better than he was can set off a tidal wave that can lift many boats.
Bordeaux En Primeur 2012 starts the beginning of April. Master Sommelier Guy Stout who writes The Stout Report (and I) will be reporting on the proceedings. It’s sure to be high drama, Kabuki mixed in with Sumo. After all, the Bordelaise are the master wine marketeers in the world. They should be, they’ve had several hundred years to tweak their spiel.