The Baltimore/USA lawyer Robert McDowell Parker jr (*1947) was the most influential wine journalist and wine critic in the world during his active years. At the end of the 1970s, the unknown in the wine world at the time ousted the leading British wine journalists. Supposedly his nose was insured for a million dollars, which is why he was also called "The Million Dollar Nose" or "Wine Pope".
The impetus for dealing with wine was a trip to Alsace at the age of 20. In 1978, the first issue of the bimonthly magazine "Wine Advocate" was published, which has since been published bimonthly and contains assessments of individual wines. Today there are over 45,000 subscribers in about 40 countries worldwide. In 2013, Parker sold shares to a Singaporean investor group represented by Soo Hoo Khon Peng and retired from the editorial board of Wine Advocate. His successor is US journalist Lisa Perrotti-Brown. Finally, in May 2019, Robert Parker retired for good.
Parker introduced the 100-point system commonly used in US schools for wine evaluation, which then became the international standard due to his rapidly growing influence. According to his own goals, he wanted to be "an advocate for the consumer" who, unlike many wine authors of the time, was in no way connected to the wine trade and therefore had no conflicts of interest whatsoever. Parker first received worldwide attention when he declared the 1982 Bordeaux as an outstanding vintage. This was completely contrary to the opinion of many other colleagues in the industry, who felt that the year had been far too acidic. There was an endless debate about whether or not 1982 was a vintage year.
Because a wine is constantly changing and evolving as it ages and ages in the bottle, Parker does not stop at a one-off evaluation, but carries out standard tastings. The latest vintage is rated "en Primeur" in the April issue with a range of points (for example 92 to 96 points), these are Parker's "first thouhgts" (first thoughts). One year later Parker again judges the vintage "prior to bottling" and then once the wines appear on the market, he judges them "from the bottle" once more. In addition, it may well be the case that when evaluating a wine, older vintages of the same wine are mentioned and evaluated once more. A summary of the Wine-Advocate evaluations can be found in the "Parker`s Wine Buyer's Guide". This guide appears at irregular intervals, so far in the years 1987, 1989, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2002 and 2007. 8,000 wines are evaluated on average, among them very few German and even fewer Austrian wines (with an upward trend).
Parker's particular interest is clearly in French wines, about which he has written several successful books. Bordeaux" was published in 1985, "The Wine of the Rhône Valley and Provence" in 1987 and "Burgundy" in 1990. Parker regularly tasted over 100 wines a day during his most active period, which was later reduced as his team grew. Between 1978 and 2010, the team tasted a total of around 300,000 wines. Only about 160 of them received the highest score of 100 points. It is a phenomenon that well rated wines increase considerably in price immediately after the rating is announced.
His critics chalk it up to his preference for low-acid, fruity wines(fruit bombs) or wines with a high alcohol content and pronounced tannins. But Parker himself denies this. In any case, this has led quite a few wineries to change their vineyard and cellar techniques to the "Parker style". This phenomenon is known as Parkerization. Parker's evaluations are therefore not undisputed, but it is a fact that he has had a positive influence on the wine world. The documentary film "Mondovino" by American filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter, shown in 2004, shows the effects of globalisation. In it, Robert Parker and his friend and advisor Michel Rolland (*1947) are portrayed as diabolical protagonists of a worldwide wine uniform(Coca-Cola wines), but experts believe that this is not justified.
Of course, for many years now, he has not been able to personally taste the myriad of assessed wines on his own, but has been using the help of staff responsible for certain countries or regions. Naturally, there are often personnel changes. At the end of 2014 the crew consisted of Jeb Dunnuck, Luis Gutierrez, Monica Larner, Neal Martin, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Stephan Reinhardt, David Schildknecht and Mark Squires. Parker himself has reserved Bordeaux and Northern California for himself. Previous Parker employees include Antonio Galloni, Jay Miller, Daniel Thomases and Pierre Rovani.
Parker has received many honors and awards for his achievements in wine evaluations. In 1992 he was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite National. A year later he was awarded the "Wine and Vine Communication Award" by Moët Hennessy(LVMH) for his French editions on Burgundy and Bordeaux. In 1995 he became an honorary citizen of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine-growing community in the Rhône Valley. The absolute highlight was the decree signed by French President Jacques Chirac (*1932) in 1999, which elevated Parker to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honour.