More Civility from Robert Parker

Posted by | Posted in Commentary | Posted on 09-17-2014

Flickr, Spring Dew.

Flickr, Spring Dew.

Last Monday, Ron Washam (the “HoseMaster of Wine”) wrote a satirical essay on In Pursuit of Balance.

Created in 2011 by Rajat Parr and Jasmine Hirsch, IPOB has been somewhat controversial. In showcasing producers who eschew power and in favor of restraint, the organization is exclusionary by design. And many have taken issue with its use of the word “balance.” (Last year, for example, Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman proclaimed that he “[resented] the implication that richer, more full-bodied wines can’t be balanced.”)

On Tuesday, Robert Parker decided to share his feelings on IPOB:

Subject: Hosemaster classic

His latest comedic genius is especially skull-breaking through the wonderful imagery of a Coravin needle in Jim Laube’s head,…capturing the silly nonsense and money-grubbing lunacy of the Pursuit of Balance crowd….how about In Pursuit of Breathing? Even one of the old geezers from my formulative past-Charlie Olken(who has probably forgotten in one day more about California wine than all the “balancers” know collectively)-CO is the founder and pioneer of the long and excellent Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine….in short, no serious person pays any attention to Raj Parr and his zealots as it is so obvious they are only trying to sell their own wines….aren’t there enough sommeliers to support them? Keep the humor flowing RW….turds that actually or so full of hot air and float to the surface will eventually end up where they belong….history tells us this…..

In summary, Robert Parker believes that “no serious person pays any attention to Raj Parr” and that IPOB producers are “turds.”

Never mind Parr’s various wine ventures, his role as wine director for Michael Mina’s 21 restaurants, or the huge following he has on Instagram and Twitter. And never mind the fact that many IPOB producers (Au Bon Climat, Calera, Failla, Hanzell, etc.) have been praised by Parker in the past.

To quote New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov, “this must be an example of the new civility among wine writers that Bob has recommended.”

Comments (4)

  1. RP once again proves what a threatened little man he is.
    and has no sense of humor or understanding that others have different tastes than he does.

  2. Hello David,

    Allow me to say that civility among wine writers may not be that desirable.

    My little satire, inspired by a very civil wine writer’s unfortunate comparison of IPOB to ISIS (Steve Heimoff was the wine writer), pokes fun at IPOB’s appropriation of the word “balance,” and points out the group’s absurd premise. You are correct that the group aims at being exclusionary, but, far worse than that, they do it in an arrogant and ludicrous way. But I guess what I’m thinking is, wouldn’t it be terrible to be exclusionary to wine writing that isn’t your idea of balanced? I think so. On HoseMaster of Wine I strive to be completely unbalanced. We get to makes the wines we want to make, and we get to say what we think. That is the very stink of democracy.

    Parker doesn’t need defending from the likes of me. His words, which I hadn’t read until now because I don’t subscribe to his site, were published behind a pay wall and NOT anonymously. He’s writing about satire. Satire demands controversy and opinion. Raj Parr is allowed to be full of crap because he’s polite? Raj Parr isn’t sacrosanct because he has a huge following on Twitter, and works for Michael Mina. And Parker isn’t required to keep a civil tongue in his head on his own site expressing his own opinion. Yes, Parker has, in the past, called for civility in wine writing, but perhaps he has seen the error of his ways.

    I like most of the wineries in IPOB, just like I am fond of a few guys who are in the NRA. I can distinguish between individuals and groups. IPOB is a fraud. It’s foundations stink. It’s transparently disingenuous marketing. It’s not, to my mind, uncivil to say so. Truthfully, we’re supposed to be wine “critics,” not wine cheerleaders.

    All that said, no wonder everyone hates me when Parker likes me so much.

  3. Ron,

    Satire does demand controversy and opinion. And Parker is entitled to his opinions, of course. But he isn’t entitled to his own set of facts. It’s disingenuous to say that “no serious person pays any attention to Raj Parr.”

    That’s the first reason I wrote the post.

    I brought attention to his childish use of the word “turds” because Parker has repeatedly called for civility in wine writing while repeatedly offering screeds like this. If he’s seen the “error in his ways” and now wants to be a jerk, fine. But don’t go around the world calling for civility.

    And thanks for the comment. I don’t think everyone hates you!


  4. Although I disagree with Robert Parker’s takes on domestic Pinot Noir, I find his old man shitting on everything schtick (along the subsequent feigned outrage all over the wine internet), to be quite entertaining.