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The man who makes and breaks the reputation of a wine

The wine world fears him as much as they esteem him. Robert Paker single-handedly embodies, through his champagne and wine guides, the power and influence that a critic can exert. Yet Robert Parker’s encounter with wine is more a matter of chance than of vocation. Parker was born in Baltimore in 1947 to a family of farmers. After studying history and then law he joined the Farm Credit Banks in Baltimore as a lawyer. A few years later, in 1984, what was only a passion then became his livelihood.

Discovering wine in Strasbourg

It was in 1967 that Robert Parker discovered wine when he ordered a glass of wine rather than a Coke in a Strasbourg restaurant because the wine was cheaper. A first drink which will be a real revelation for the young man. After this first stay in France, he will come back each year to discover the various vineyards, and multiply the tastings. From his travels, he brings back dozens of pages blackened with commentary and anecdotes. In 1978, he sent his first newsletters by email: The Baltimore-Washington Wine Advocate. This only includes tasting comments. The following year, the newsletter was renamed: The Wine Advocate. It was in 1982 that Parker acquired international stature when he defended a Bordeaux vintage shunned by critics. He finds it, after tasting it first, remarkable.

Too influential a guide ?

Robert Parker marks the world of wine and champagne criticism. It is one of the few to demand blind tasting, served by an extremely fine and consistent palate. It also imposes the rating on 100 of the cuvées with a very detailed system. Thus the color is noted on 5 points, the nose on 15 points, the mouth on 20 points and the aging potential on 10 points. Each wine starts out with a base of 50 points which is then increased for each of the criteria, which means that a wine rated 50/100 is absolutely terrible. - 96-100: extraordinary wine, among the greatest - 90-95: very great wine - 80-89: very good wine - 70-79: pleasant wine, but without complexity or depth - 60-69: very ordinary wine , with faults - 50-59: wine almost undrinkable Robert Parker is often criticized for only favoring woody wines. Yet he defends himself and says that he favors low yields, active selection of grapes for the harvest, ripe grapes, simple and as natural vinification as possible, and respect for the vineyard, the grape variety and the vintage.

Robert Parker and champagne

Men are not particularly fond of champagne, nor do they themselves taste wines from this region. He entrusted this task to Antonio Galloni, who was active in the vineyard. Among the cuvées which find favor with his eyes in the champagne guide, there are in particular those from the Pierre Péters house, and the Chétillons cuvée in particular. Antonio Galloni favors cuvées which stand out with everything by a perfect mastery of the vinification and by a great respect for the terroir. We can also note that the vintages matured in oak are rather well represented in the vintages best rated by The Wine Advocate.