Parker Pandemonium

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parker.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

It’s not easy being Robert Parker.

If the recent rash of criticism of the wine ratings czar is any indication, the lawyer-turned-world’s-most-recognized-wine-critic isn’t sleeping easy nights. Things first turned tough for Parker this spring when respected wine blogger Tyler Colman (AKA Dr. Vino) as well as The Wall Street Journal penned exposes on ethical missteps by members of Parker’s tasting staff. And things have only continued to heat up since, with Colman penning follow-on pieces examining the veracity of Parker’s so-called perfect tasting recall and discrepancies in the quality of wines rated in his publication, the Wine Advocate, and on the market. Pushing “Parkerphiles to Paxil”?
And we certainly can’t forget the scorching send up the guy in my friend Alice Feiring’s new book, “The Battle for Wine and Love, or How I Saved the World from Parkerization” (the little ditty on Paxil above comes courtesy of Ms. Feiring). In a favorite chapter called “My Date with Bob,” the feisty wine auteur details a series of desultory conversations she has with the larger-than-life critic; she ultimately blasts him for failing to take responsibility for the far-reaching influence of his palate, which she asserts has caused winemakers to abandon natural winemaking in favor of regimes relying on copious amounts of technology and new oak – which Parker loves.

Clearly, it’s a tough time to be this guy. But what do you think: Villain or not? Could it be that Parker is just misunderstood?