Was Parker Snubbed?

Posted by | Posted in Wine News | Posted on 01-31-2011

Later this month, the Culinary Institute of America will hold its fifth annual “Celebration of California Food & Wine” and induct the newest members of the “Vintners Hall of Fame.” U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson will preside over the event.

Just days ago, this year’s Hall of Fame inductees were announced. The list included Richard Graff, founder of Chalone Vineyards; Joel Peterson, co-founder and winemaker at Ravenswood; August Sebastiani; Vernon Singleton, emeritus professor of enology at UC Davis; and Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home and the all Trinchero Family Estates wines.

Absent from that list? Robert M Parker, Jr. He was nominated last year and this year, and both times, he failed to receive enough votes.

Linda Murphy, a columnist for Decanter, has written a compelling piece arguing that Parker should have been inducted. “Parker’s omission is egregious,” she writes, “smacking of professional jealousy.”

I’m inclined to agree. While Parker isn’t a “vintner,” the Hall of Fame is designed to “celebrate the men and women whose collective vision, determination, and hard work have been responsible for the growth and worldwide prestige of the California wine industry.” Regular readers know I’m a proud member of the “anti-flavor wine elite.” But regardless of whether or not one agrees with Parker’s palate, rating system, or personality, it’s undeniable that he’s had a huge impact on California wines – for the better.

As I wrote back in November (in a post about Parker-bashing), “Love or loathe him, Robert Parker changed wine — for the better. Hate his 100-point scale? Without it, we wouldn’t have Burghound or CellarTracker! Without his Consumer Reports approach to wine criticism, a much higher percentage of bottles would be flawed.”

What do you think? Murphy’s column has generated quite a bit of controversy on the WineBerserkers message board, and we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments (4)

  1. Of course Parker was snubbed. He’s the most influential wine critic in the world.

    This controversy smacks of the stupidity that plagues sportswriters when it comes to Hall of Fame and annual award voting. Many sportswriters think it’s their responsibility to force players to “wait” a few years until they’re ready for induction. Fortunately, sabermetrics and other evidence-based arguments are rescuing worthy inductees like Bert Blyleven.

    I’m sure Parker will eventually get into the Hall, but I’d imagine that the voters are trying to “punish” him by making him sweat. It’s silly.

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  3. From the CIA Website: “The Vintners Hall of Fame celebrates the men and women whose collective vision, determination, and hard work have been responsible for the growth and worldwide prestige of the California wine industry.”
    Given the mission statement, Mr. Parker MUST be elected into the Hall of Fame. There are very few people in the industry that have stimulated so much change and attracted so much exposure for CA wines. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Mr. Parker but there is no denying his influence and role in putting CA wine on of the forefront of Oenophiles craniums (even if I find his palate linear).

  4. I’m sure the omission will cause a slight twinge in Parker’s mind, but love him or hate him, everyone knows he doesn’t need a Hall of Fame label to demonstrate his contributions to the wine. His rating system will live on, people will still depend on his recommendations (although blindly at times), and he’ll continue to influence the viniferous world around us. I have a feeling Parker will be just fine.