We all tend to look for confirmation of beliefs we cherish. Keen fans of organic food leap upon every scrap of anecdotal evidence of the growth in organic grocery sales, even if the hard data reveals that the number of people buying green foods and drinks is actually dropping.
The same applies to the members of the wine world who dislike the power that is wielded by Robert Parker and wish that it would simply go away. Parker points are losing their influence, they declare, on the basis of a couple of conversations, usually with people who share their views.There may be some truth in this, but far less than the anti-Parkers would like to imagine. Since the guru published his latest review of the 2009 Bordeaux, Liv-Ex reports that prices of some highly rated chateaux’ wines have risen by 20%, and over 60% of recent trading has been totally focused on that vintage. Jean-Charles Boisset reports similar excitement over his Burgundies following their assessment by the Parker team. Anti-Parkers like to claim that the Chinese are not interested in his marks; people actually selling wine in China tend to disagree.
In simple terms, it may be true that high Parker points are a little less effective in helping to sell middle-of-the-road wines than they were, and that the third successive highly rated vintage is harder to sell than its predecessors but there is no denying that any wine with a score in the 90s is easier to move than its less exalted peers.
But… even if the anti-Parkers got their wish, what precisely do they expect to replace those points? A Utopia in which consumers intelligently make up their own minds? Or follow the advice of a critic with whom they – the anti-Parkers – feel more in tune? Dream on my friends – and remember the many many instances of nations that have overthrown their ruler, only to have him replaced by someone unimaginably less congenial.