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Monday, 1 December 2014

Perfect Parker Scores Keep On Coming!


The number of wines given a perfect 100 points by Robert Parker and his fellow Wine Advocate critics stands at more than 500, and the list is growing with exponential speed.

Wine Searcher features a list of the 511 commercially available wines that have been awarded 100 "Parker points" and it makes interesting reading.
So far this year, 69 wines have been elevated to perfect status, following on from 102 last year and the end of the year tends to see a bumper crop. Yet only five years ago, the number of wines awarded 100 points was 38 and even that more than doubled the number from 2004, which was just 17.
An examination of the list also reveals that Parker points are far from restricted to top Bordeaux châteaux and California Cabernets: in fact, the Rhône is the hot favorite with 107 wines. Next down the list is indeed California, with 97 wines, but Bordeaux numbers a relatively slim 86.
The Parker 100-pointer effect.
No doubt that the Parker/Wine Advocate opinion still carries weight. Take Chave's 2003 Hermitage Cuvée Cathelin, for instance. In January this year it was selling for a more-than-respectable average price of $2518 a bottle. Once it became a 100-point wine in April, it soared to $5270 a bottle.
That's an extreme example, perhaps, but there is an obvious connection between a high Wine Advocate score and a wine's price.
"Absolutely," says Joss Fowler, director of fine wine for London-based merchant Fine + Rare.
"No other reviewer has the same weight or power. The most recent example of this is Parker’s upgrading of 2010 Montrose to 100 points at the end of August. This not only saw considerable sales of the wine, it also saw the market price move from around £1400 ($2260) per case in bond to £1700 ($2745) per case in bond today."
Casey Carmichael, a wine consultant at Woodland Hills Wine Company in California agrees.
"Based on the results of our email promotions that feature wines with high ratings, wine buyers who trust Parker's scores are still in ample supply and ready to buy," he told Wine Searcher.
"On their own, they still feel the need to seek out the highly rated bottles, and we get plenty of inquiries for wines with perfect scores. Another driving force is the international markets. International buyers care about scores, too, and they are certainly creating extra demand. Given most 100-point wines are already low production, supply continues to disappear fast once a Parker rating is released."

So is the increased number of top scores having any effect on the market?
"I don’t think so," Carmichael says. "The fact that more 100-point scores are being granted is something most people have not realized or even have context for. I would wager that even the folks who closely follow scores most likely could not tell you how often a 100-point score is given, only that it is perceived of as 'rare'. Further, most who realized or were told about the increase would likely write it off to good vintages, coincidence, and so forth … and wouldn’t feel the need to reach for their tin foil hat."

Which critic?
Despite the number of critics now working the Wine Advocate banner, it's still a perfect score from Parker himself that people seek most.
"One hundred points from Robert Parker still has an undiluted effect, especially for Bordeaux," Fowler says.
"The same score from any other reviewer has less effect ... but it is region-specific. Antonio Galloni [a former Wine Advocate critic] carries a great deal of weight when reviewing Barolo. Likewise Allen Meadows is arguably the most important critic for Burgundy. The opinions of James Suckling and Neal Martin [a current Wine Advocate critic] are also important, and can influence demand."
Then again, many buyers aren't aware of the Wine Advocate set-up and assume that Parker has tasted the wine himself, or they simply aren't bothered.
"I feel most casual wine consumers browsing online stores or shelf talkers likely don’t give a lot of weight to the difference between 'Wine Advocate' and 'Robert Parker.' For those who do understand the delineation, no more than half still like to see that Robert Parker himself gave the score. The rest either don’t care or trust the palates of other Wine Advocate critics over Mr. Parker’s," Carmichael says."
Tim Atkin MW, while not specifically talking about Robert Parker or the Wine Advocate, wrote in trade publication Harper's earlier this year that "The more widely used and accepted the 100-point scale is, the more tempting it is to critics to ramp up their scores. The writers who give the highest points are the ones who are quoted by wineries and retailers. The fastest way to make a name for yourself is to hand out a slew of 98, 99 and even 100 point reviews; 95 points is the new 90 points."

Which region?The list of 100-point wines awarded over the years also neatly illustrates Parker's developing tastes.

The first wines to achieve the perfect score were from Burgundy, a region more associated with elegance than brute force. The 1985 Domaine Leroy Hospices de Beaune Mazis-Chambertin Cuvée Madeleine Collignon and the 1985 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti achieved the feat way back in 1990 and were followed in 1992 by two more DRC wines and, a year later, a Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Tokay-Pinot Gris from Alsace.
By 1994, he had developed a taste for Bordeaux and, for the next two years, the only wines awarded top marks from outside Bordeaux were a Burgundy, a Port and a Napa red blend.
Then, in 1997, he discovered the Rhône. In January that year, he elevated 11 various vintages of Guigal’s "LaLa" wines – from the vineyards of La Mouline, La Landonne and La Turque – to the magical 100-point status, along with four wines from Chapoutier, including consecutive vintages of the Ermitage Le Pavillon.
Ever since the Rhône has never been far from the heart of those awarding the big scores at the Wine Advocate. Indeed, the most likely wine to achieve a 100-point rating is one from the Rhône, given the affinity the Wine Advocate has for the region. As for Parker's first love, in all, only seven Burgundies have achieved that perfect score.

Who cares?
As a critic, Robert Parker has been lionized and vilified in equal measure, but whatever you say about him, there is no denying the influence he still wields in the wine-buying world.
A 100-point Parker score can still galvanize both sales and prices, even though his Wine Advocate scores are now awarded by an expanded panel of tasters and despite the growing backlash against him on wine forums across the Internet.
Given that many wine lovers air the view that Parker and the Wine Advocate are bad for wine, it's surprising how many people seem to agree with the ratings. Look at the list of Wine Searcher's Top 100 Most Searched-For Wines and it tells you everything you need to know, despite the fact that our list does not take vintage into account.
A whopping 15 out of our top 20 most searched-for wines have been awarded 100 points. Go figure.

Source: http://www.wine-searcher.com/