Robert Parker's influence has peaked.

Aug. 31 2005 11:44 AM

The Wino in Winter

Robert Parker's influence is on the decline.

(Continued from Page 1)

In short, the Parker problem is proving to be a self-correcting one. Parker was the product of a unique set of circumstances. He made his name by being one of the first critics, and certainly the most insistent, to proclaim the brilliance of the 1982 Bordeauxs. As it happens, 1982 also marked the start of a 20-year bull market in the United States, which enriched scores of Americans and gave them an interest in the finer things, including fine wine. All these aspiring connoisseurs naturally wanted guidance, and Parker, unequivocal in his opinions and armed with a drink-by-the-numbers scoring system that conveyed the illusion of scientific precision, made himself their guru.

But two decades on, many people who once drank only wines that bore Parker's stamp of approval have grown more confident in their own judgments. In addition, there are now many more sources of informed wine criticism (thanks in no small part to the Internet). While the number of "Parkerized" wines (lavishly fruited, lavishly oaked) has unquestionably exploded, there are still plenty of winemakers unwilling to cater to one man's palate, and I still find plenty of subtle, distinctivereds and whites on my local retail shelves. If these wines and winemakers managed to survive the Parker ascendancy, they will surely survive his decline.

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McCoy ends her book on exactly the right note: "There will never be another emperor of wine." Parker agonists should read The Emperor of Wine content in the knowledge that his crown has already begun to slip.

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