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Why do bloggers hate Parker?


The blogosphere has all but pronounced Robert Parker dead as a Rift Valley bone, but The Man Himself just proved he’s still relevent (if there were any doubt about it) by raising $1 million in advance sales for charity scholarships for his big Oct. 22 tasting of Chateauneuf-du-Pape at the Culinary Institute of America, in Napa Valley.

Could anyone else do that, even Gary V.? I don’t think so. Not bad for a fossil. So I guess pronouncements of Parker’s demise have been exaggerated.

So many people want Parker dead and buried, you have to wonder what’s driving the anger, which at times is reminiscent of the birther’s hatred of President Obama. Leading the charge have been Dr. Vino and Slate’s Mike Steinberger, who last week issued his latest fatwa against the Man from Monkton, resurrecting the increasingly tired charges of “ethical lapses” and “missteps” and warning, not only Parker but others of his Baby Boomer ilk, that they’re going to have to tread “a lot more lightly” and even then, they shouldn’t expect to “command quite the deference” they’re used to.

Well, that would include me, I guess, since I’m basically Parker’s age and a certified Boomer wine writer. Not that I think I’m remotely in Parker’s league…

Look, have we Boomer critics really been so terrible? We helped popularize wine with the American people, writing about it and explaining it the best we could, scrambling to make a living in a job that doesn’t pay all that much (unless you’re Parker), trying to figure out how to be honorable, and considering ourselves lucky every step of the way. We had the baton passed to us by our predecessors, whom we gave proper respect to, and now we’re happy to pass it along to the next generation. So what’s the problem?  How else, besides an unseemly jealousy, to explain the vituperation, which sometimes gets expressed in an almost violent way against Parker and others?

I’ve always believed in fundamental fairness. When the Wine Spectator was busted in that phony restaurant wine list scam last year, even though the Spectator is Wine Enthusiast’s competitor, I blogged that it could have happened to anyone, so let’s cut Spectator some slack. Of course, that didn’t stop some people from putting Spectator right down there with Hitler. When Dr. Vino revealed some of the practices at eRobert Parker, I said that it wasn’t the worst thing in the world; writers need the largesse of the industry because otherwise we couldn’t afford to travel and taste wine. I asked for a sense of balance.

So once again I have to say, come on you bloggers, get a grip. Chill. Don’t be so pissed all the time: it’s not good for you. Just because Parker is rich and famous and you’re not doesn’t make him the bad guy. He’s had an honorable career, and you’re not going to advance any further or higher in yours than he has by insulting him, so get over it. Look, I’ve chastised the wine industry for years for supporting (wittingly or not) the hegemony of Wine Spectator and Parker, to the exclusion of every other legitimate wine periodical, including Wine Enthusiast. California wineries in particular stand justly accused of such short-sighted snobbery by buying into Parker-Spectatoritis. But I never felt I had to delegitimize the Spectator or Parker themselves. Just because you don’t like the message doesn’t mean you have to kill the messenger.

So everybody, lay off Parker. Call off the witch hunt. Bloggers, do your thing without having to slime anyone or build your career on someone’s corpse. It won’t kill you to be nice.

  1. Steve, it’s interesting that many people feel that have to put down others to get ahead. But with that said, I do believe Parker and to no fault of his own except hard work and a passion for wine, has so much “power” in the wine business. It’s a crazy thing to me! Look into other fields, who has so much say so over cars? Beer? Cloths? Movies? Technology? And I could go on and on. Wine is a huge business and yet one man has so much say so with his scores. Again I don’t blame Parker. But find it mind boggling to say the least.

    I think the bloggers will help over time even the reviews out. But it will need to be done with hard work, professionalism and great communication skills. Who knows who the best reviewers on the internet are? It’s to early to tell, let’s check back in a year and see who reviewed a couple hundred wines, got lot’s of hits on their blog and helped sell a ton of wine! It should be a fun year!

  2. Steve – not everybody is gunning for RP. For example: before Parker dissed bloggers in his recent WA, I wrote that people should cut him slack regarding the 100 pt. rating scale.

    I’m only saying that in the view of some bloggers, RP fired the first salvo. If the guy came out and said that blogging was great and decided to work with wine bloggers in some way, he would get a TON of support from the community…

  3. Steve, how about a little sense of balance now? You are taking one Slate article and again grabbing that broad brush of yours and trying to paint all bloggers back into yet another pigeonhole. Never mind, for the moment, the fact that you are labeling Mike Steinberger a blogger, a title I suspect he has never ever used. Where is the evidence? Are posses of bloggers gathering in Starbucks across the land and tweeting their mutual hatred? Is there perhaps an online movement urging wine lovers to boycott reading The Wine Advocate? If so, please let us know.

    All you are doing here is connecting two dots — Parker raising money for charity (good for him, and the charity) and Slate revisiting what belongs in the annals of wine-writing ethics as a true Top Ten story — then going off on a rant that has no basis in reality. If anything, go ahead and take Steinberger to task today; but given his role in what transpired this year behind the veil of The Wine Advocate, and given the clear online-proven importance of the egregious transgressions, I find the Slate article perfectly reasonable. In fact, it was more than reasonable — let’s call it perfectly timely — precisely because Steinberger used the Parker fiasco not merely to tar the world’s preeminent wine critic, but rather to argue quite effectively that the Internet has “democratized” wine drinking. Nice of you to gloss over that salient point when accusing him only of bashing Parker.

    And why drag Dr. Vino into this? Because he wrote a post linking to the article? He did so because he thought it was important, and he did so without any malice or gloating, even though he took an admirably traditional journailstic approach to the Parker-Miller scandals (yes, there were two, for those keeping score). THis would have been a better time to praise Dr. Vino (and heck, why not the blogosphere!) for helping shine light on one of the darker corners of wine writing.

    Instead we have you using the Slate article to once again dump all bloggers into one basket, just like you did when accused bloggers en masse of shilling ( This time, like then, your broad brush has it wrong.

    You write <>. Steve, once again, how many blog posts have you read that unfairly slammed Robert Parker? I know that when I was at the bloggers conference this summer, his name came up far less than I would have expected. Parker is Parker: an incredibly hard-working, palate-prescient critic who changed wine writing.

    If you actually read many of the blogs you so carelessly lump together, you would realize that wine writing is changing again, in ways that have nothing at all to do with Robert Parker, and bloggers have way better things to do than bash him.

  4. Dude, I know “not everybody” is after Parker, which is why I wrote over and over again “some bloggers.” Some important ones. I know you, yourself, have remained fair and balanced (maybe I shouldn’t use that tainted phrase from Fux News). But there still remains this tendency to screed against established print writers.

  5. I’ve gone after Parker once or twice and I assure you it is not out of jealousy. One reason was when he went after bloggers, he kind of opened himself up for some of the crap he is getting now by doing that. But the biggest issue I have….I really feel like his palate is damaged, if it aint sweet, gooey and super-charged he does not give it a good score, just makes me wonder how many people think they don’t “get it” after tasting a wine that Mr. Parker gave a 98 to. I don’t read his publication or play on his little discussion board, (tad too much chest pounding going on over there for me) and the only time I have ever “used” Parker was when I saw a, “Parker 94” on a shelf talker….let me know that it was a wine not suited to my palate. I see no reason to hate him, no reason to keep talking about him at all really but I can say that I for one am thankful that there are other voices…ones willing to question his power and palate because I don’t “get” either.

  6. Samantha, people have been complaining about RP’s palate forever. The bloggers didn’t discover anything that most European and many American writers weren’t saying 20 years ago. Parker is what he is. Everybody has his or her own tastes. So while I can see Parker as the symbol of the old order (because he’s the biggest and most famous), I think his contributions have been positive and have moved the entire field of wine writing forward. I’m not defending him because we’re the same age, but because I think he’s unfairly suffered some knocks he didn’t really deserve. He’s an easy target. I do feel the past year has seen too much sniping back and forth on everybody’s part, and hopefully 2010 will be more civil. Maybe I’m dreaming…

  7. This is like a lesson in straw-man building, Steve. For example, can you be more specific when you say that people write about Parker in an “almost violent” way? And when the restaurant issue came up with Spectator, which writers compared Spectator to Hitler? Do you think it helps to wildly exaggerate?

    Bloggers are hardly “angry.” Generally speaking, bloggers are some of the happiest people I know. They blog because they love the subject or they love to write or both. The issue with Parker is that he exudes contempt for bloggers without seeming to read very many of them.

    And your contention that the concern with Parker is “increasingly tired,” well, that doesn’t work at all — because Parker has barely acknowledged any missteps. Tyler didn’t jab Parker because Parker and his Advocate ilk are taking handouts and largesse; Tyler jabbed Parker because Parker is now abrogating the principles that took him to the top. That’s not “increasingly tired.” In fact, it’s increasingly alarming that Parker and the Advocate dig their heels in.

    I dig your stuff, Steve, and I like how you make the blog a kind of wide-open view to your thoughts on the industry. I just can’t agree with any of this.

  8. Evan I love the back and forth and am never hesitant to say what I think, even at the risk of sounding like an idiot. Anyway, I think the bloggers should just forget about Parker. So what if some of his hirelings took freebies. So what if he’s contemptuous of you. If he’s truly irrelevant, it doesn’t matter. The truth is, the bigger they are, the more tempting it is to take potshots at them, but it tends to make the pot-shotters look like little chihuahuas, yapping at his ankles. At least that’s my impression. As for the “almost violent” it’s in the tone, not the actual words. It’s the anger that I hear. Why? Same with the criticisms of Spectator. Sure there’s plenty to criticize WS for but the gleefulness from some quarters over the fake restaurant thing was a little over the top. Anyhow, thanks for reading my blog.

  9. Perhaps you should reread your own material, Steve. You certainly didn’t write “over and over again” the words “some bloggers.” You happened to write “The blogosphere, you bloggers, everybody” and at one point generalized all of California’s winemakers by saying, “California wineries in particular stand justly accused…” Careful.

  10. What difference can it possibly make that bloggers “hate” Parker? Your post is really about trying to make the blogosphere a civil place, a place where folks politely discuss wine and wine issues. But that isn’t going to happen, nor should it happen. Taking potshots at those on top IS the great American way, an honored tradition, it’s what the First Amendment is all about.

    You are exactly right about how it looks. I’ve said it a hundred times, wine blogging is the attention barking of lonely poodles. But there is joy in barking, there is energy in barking, there is even passion in barking. And, in my case, I like to think barking can be funny.

    The world would be a lot worse off if the rabble-rousers, finger-pointers, name-callers, muckrakers, rumormongers and wine bloggers of the world didn’t express their views. Exercising our opinions, stupid, tired or otherwise, is the democratization of wine everyone is calling for. Democracy is loud and raucous and filled with stupid opinions–hey, I am Democracy!

  11. I have to agree with Tish here, you use a pretty broad brush here. You claim to use qualifiers in your response. But I have now ready your column three times. Where do you claim that only some bloggers are after Parker? Instead I see the rather all inclusive title “Why do bloggers hate Parker?” No qualifier there. Or how about “The blogosphere has all but pronounced Robert Parker dead as a Rift Valley bone…” No qualifier there. Then there is the phrase “you bloggers” and the final “so everybody, lay off Parker. Call off the witch hunt. Bloggers, do your thing without having to slime anyone or build your career on someone’s corpse.” Where is this “some” of which you speak? And finally, the main point of the Slate piece was that wine critics at the top, like Parker, may be losing a bit of their market share and influence to more decentralized forms of criticism, like bloggers, Cellar Tracker, etc. Not sure if this is accurate, but I don’t think it is addressed by your column or the fact that Parker can still raise money.

  12. My favorite line…
    “Not that I think I’m remotely in Parker’s league…”

    Thank goodness for one truthful line!

  13. Michael, this “broad brush” thing is beginning to get to me. It seems nowadays no one can make a point without somebody saying “He’s tarring everyone with the same broad brush.” Let me make this point: As I said to 1WineDude, I know “not everybody” is after Parker. It’s “some people,” okay? I mean, does a blog have to read like a legal brief? And as I’ve written over and over again, yes “wine critics at the top, like Parker,” may be losing some market share. That’s great! I like that the market for ideas and conversation is widening up. It’s all good! Doesn’t bother me a bit! I’m just saying that Parker built his career all by himself without lashing out at anyone else or undercutting them or criticizing them. I think that’s the best way to build a career.

  14. Hosemaster, your comment made me realize that ranting and taking potshots IS the great American way. Maybe I’ve been hypocritical in that I do it all the time to Republicans (sometimes here, more often on Facebook) and it DOES make me feel a whole lot better (not only that, but I’m convinced they deserve it). I’m trying to reconcile that fact with my trying to make the blogosphere a more civil place. Maybe you’re right: It can’t and shouldn’t be done. So if I can kick Republicans in the shin because they deserve it, maybe I have no right to tell a blogger he can’t kick Parker? Hmm. Let me mull over that one.

  15. Oi. Why is everybody so sensitive? From now on I’m going to have to get my lawyer to proofread everything I write to make sure that no statement includes anybody who doesn’t belong in it. I guess you’re going to be seeing a lot more of the word “some” preceding every noun in my future posts. Err, make that some of my future posts.

  16. It’s pretty clear that there ARE many folks who would prefer Parker be dethroned ASAP . . . all you need to do is look at the aforementioned blogs, a couple of wine bulletin board sights, and Parker’s own erobertparker bulletiin boards. This can really not be disputed at this point.

    The issue here is what is driving this movement? There’s no doubt that RP has fueled the fire not only based on his comments about bloggers, but recent snafus with some who work for him (especially Jay Miller).

    In RP’s defense, though, he has addressed this ‘transgressions’ and has moved forward . . . the question is – Can everyone else?!?!?

    No one person has the perfect palate – there never has been and never will be a ‘perfect palate’ . . . Wine reviews are subjective by nature . . . lest us not forget.

    There is bound to be jealously for a guy who has built up such a brand name and yields so much power in an industry. Does RP WANT this much influence? Hard to say – I don’t speak directly with him so I will never know for sure . . .

    But the fact is that RP has been an instrumental force in raising the awareness in this country for wines that would probably not ever have seen the light of day. He was also instrumental in highlighting the ‘garagiste’ movement in France that has led to some very exciting wines as well.

    So as I said, RP seems to have made gestures to move forward – what about everyone else?!?!?


  17. Steve, I’m just looking at the response you wrote to Tish. You claim you wrote that only “some bloggers” are after Parker. But that language does not appear in your original column. If that’s what you meant then that is what yo should have written. Your response to Tish seemed like back pedaling to me. And now this: “I’m just saying that Parker built his career all by himself without lashing out at anyone else or undercutting them or criticizing them.” Look, I have no axe to grind with Robert Parker. But he’s no saint. Over the years he has definitely “lashed out, undercut and criicized” all sorts of other critics on his eBob board. Just ask Jancis Robinson. Or check the Mondovino days on eBob. If you stop over claiming, I’ll stop commenting.

  18. Steve, I do believe “blogging” is to you as “Parker” is to bloggers as “healthcare reform” is to political pundits: a hot button issue that is sure to generate passionate debate. As for Robert Parker himself, he does get too much flack. Back when he started, there was no consumer advocate when it came to wine buying. In this respect, I think his work has been quite beneficial as producers receive feedback and work to improve their products. No one can coast solely on reputation as one critic or another will ding an inferior product.

    But I think it is important for critics to recognize that the feedback loop is now almost instantaneous. New brands can tailor their products to achieve 90 points based on the well-understood qualities that several major critics prefer. It’s a lack of self-criticism on the part of the Parker that particularly upsets people, I think. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to acknowledge the influence he has. The world, not just the wine world, has changed, but it seems Parker still views it in 1980s terms. He does deserve credit for hiring contractors such as Schildknect to cover regions that cannot produce wines to his liking. But that’s largely offset by his hiring of certain other contractors who are unreliable and under-qualified.

  19. Another zinger, with no foundation,

    “Sure there’s plenty to criticize WS for”

    Steve, can you please clarify this…

  20. I often reflect that growing and making wine can be more fun than talking about it. Once that part starts sometimes folks get lost within themselves for less than obvious reasons. Now we have two camps to consider, established and not, leaving an age old question

  21. Steve,

    Examples make a point interesting and lend credibility to the opinion. If you’re going to call your shots, you can’t do it half-heartedly with an eye on being an ambassador.

    The broad brush is the fact that you say, “some” yet don’t quantify the statement.

    Cite chapter and verse to support your opinion and you’ll probably get less “sensitive” and defensiveness and more conversation, and perhaps, advance your cause if, indeed, you want to become the respected elder statesman that brings civility to the equation.


  22. Steve,

    I would make sure to provide WS the address of your lawyer, save yourself a stamp. 😉

  23. Steve – getting some flak behind the scenes? I just love it that any time anyone blogs a negative opinion that doesn’t include a million qualifiers, and one person feels they have been lumped together wrongly in the criticism, the “broad brush” accusation comes out. Steve, resist the censorship!

  24. Steve, your solid journalism gives credence to the blogosphere. Keep up the provocative comments and ignore the ankle bitters, anxious poodles and angry pit bulls. Your work elevates the blog genre.

    This Dog values your big picture perspective, your finesse and your politics too.

  25. By the way, has Gary V in new celebrity role directly raised money for ANY charitable cause?

  26. I can say after attending this year’s Wine Blogger’s Conference in California, I was surprised at the amount of bile directed toward Parker in various forums. Yes, there was the ugly spat on the WA bulletin board that added fuel to the fire prior to the conference, but still. Wouldn’t it be much more interesting to prove Parker’s points wrong by writing great wine articles day after day rather than going down into the muck? If you find yourself wondering if there is an irresistible pull for mudslinging and its associated hypersensitivity, reread the comment trail from this post. I think Steve not only made his point in this point but the comments reinforced it! Oi indeed! C’mon folks! Let’s get off the high horses, stop the chest pounding, and write some great wine pieces. BTW, Steve, when you get the disclaimer finalized to attach to the blog posts send me a copy. Putting on my mud gear and waiting for the backlash NOW!

  27. We can talk about this all day long, splitting hairs about who said exactly what… but I have to agree with the overreaching message in Steve’s post. Stepping on someone else’s shoulders to make yourself look taller… only makes you look bad. Plus honestly, it’s getting really boring.

  28. Jeff, well even though I think the “broad brush” criticism is the equivalent of the Republicans crying “Socialist!” every time Obama tries to get something done, I will admit it’s having an effect on my writing. As you can tell by many of the comments in this post, a lot of readers are asking me to not stop calling them as I see them, and to resist self-censoring. I’m trying to find a happy medium because I don’t want to needlessly offend some good people (although I will admit that I firmly believe that some of the bloggers who are screaming the loudest have downright negative agendas AND THEY KNOW WHO THEY ARE). I am going try to walk the “all – some” line more carefully, but really, you can’t expect me to take a poll of 1000 bloggers everytime I refer to “the blogosphere” just so I can more accurately point out that “47.3% of bloggers really hate Parker while 37.9% of them express some degree of disapproval and the balance don’t care.”

  29. Daniel: this isn’t the time for that. I’ve praised WS in the past and also let people know when they’ve let me down.

  30. Greg, I’m not at all familiar with Parker’s set-up. Never met he guy and don’t read the Wine Advocate or visit the eParker website. So I can only infer what happens in Parker’s brain. But I suspect he probably feels picked on and piled on and doesn’t quite know how to handle the situation. I don’t know if some of his contractors are unreliable and under-qualified. I suspect that, if Parker thought that, he’d replace them. Why would he hire bad employees? Is it possible that they are qualified, but you don’t happen to think so? There are usually two sides to a story. Anyway, it would probably do a world of good for Parker to open himself up to direct online conversation with people, which is something I do on a daily basis. Sometimes people tell me things that make me uncomfortable, but that’s good. And I hope that sometimes I tell people things that make them uncomfortable, and they can see the good in it, too.

  31. This all seems a bit much now…

    I’m in Jeff’s camp that specific examples would help strengthen Steve’s point. Otherwise, I feel like everyone is getting their panties in a wad in what amounts to much ado about nothing…

  32. Everybody hates Parker, not just bloggers. That’s part of being so influential. He fosters enormous resentment.

    It’s not really all that rare for a particular critic to become dominant. In film, there was a period when “two thumbs up” from Siskel and Ebert were a guarantee of success. I worked in Hollywood when “Siskbert” was king, and the executives who ran the film business hated them — but always in private.

    For a decade on Broadway the difference between success and failure was Frank Rich’s review in the New York Times. He was not called “The Butcher of Broadway” for nothing.

    And in most major cities there’s one critic who can make or break a restaurant. How popular do you think they are with restaurateurs?

    That said, there’s also no question but that Parker and the other 100 point reviewers have had a tremendously positive influence on wine. Whatever their homogenizing effect, they provide a pathway for unknowns to crack the market, and a mechanism to hold accountable old-line wineries who don’t maintain their quality.

  33. Steve, I’m sure when you were a young writer, the older writers you gave respect to were only the ones you respected 🙂 – there were a host of others that you felt were overblown, overprivileged, over over over – and saw them circle the wagons as the establishment. Now you get to be part of the older generation wondering what all these younger generation people are doing in attacking the establishment without showing proper respect. Amusing.

    My complaint with many of your blogs is that they fail in the ways you attack others on. Just two of them…

    * How is using the term “fatwah” on your part contributing to being more civil? Or even intelligent?

    * Your entries have become off-the-cuff op-ed pieces. No research, nothing to back anything up, just prima facie observations followed by deductions and accusations. You berate others for using the same techniques only because they don’t agree with you.

    If you don’t have anything worth blogging about (or do, but not enough time to write it well), you CAN skip a day – it’s okay. The Internet has enough quantity.

  34. Steve, if you have never read the Wine Advocate or visited his wine forum on eBob, how can you possibly make the claim that you did earlier? “I’m just saying that Parker built his career all by himself without lashing out at anyone else or undercutting them or criticizing them.” My original point was that a lack of civility and negative criticism exists on both sides of this issue. Yes, there are some zealots out there that froth at the mouth every chance they get about Parker, but Mr. Parker is a big boy and at times he dishes it out as good as he gets. And let me add that I appreciate your allowing such a free and open discussion on your blog, even if some of us are taking issue with your constructing of arguments.

  35. Mr. Parker, along with other less prominent members of the old-guard print media, are aggressively lashing out at the next generation of wine writers, protecting their place and their choice of media more than their honor. When Mr. Parker wrote about “blobbers,” he was not only initiating the hostilities, he was also committing the sin Steve is accused of above, lumping everybody together. Curiously, Mr. Parker was his own generations uber-wine-blogger, starting with a mailing list where “those kids today” start with WordPress or Blogspot. It reeks more of an old man yelling “hey you kids, get off my lawn,” than discourse on the future of wine writing.

    Sure, some real investigative journalism was done that uncovered inconsistencies between the way Mr. Parker claims to do business and the way it appears he actually does business. The acts were really not that big a deal from a wine-writing population that lines up for freebies, but the inconsistencies were noticeable and the observations valid. The same can be said of the Wine Spectator restaurant debacle.

    That said, it appears Mr. Parker’s problem is not just with that particular bit of journalism, but with the entire “blobbing” community, and that strips him of any valid self-righteousness, and invites as passionate a defensive RESPONSE as offered in his attack.

    To claim that Mr. Parker is a victim in a war he initiated is really not fair, at least absent the rest of the history of the events leading up to today.

  36. Eric, actually when I started out I liked every wine writer I came across. I still have all the old books and I still love them. So, no, there was no one that I thought was overblown, overprivileged, etc. Truly.

    Words like “fatwah” are meant to be humorous. I don’t think anyone takes them literally. Sometimes my blogs are off-the-cuff op-ed pieces. I never pretended otherwise. I admit to having strong opinions about certain things. That’s what I like about blogging, as opposed to reporting. For Wine Enthusiast I report. No attitude, no personal viewpoints, just strict objectivity. A blog is a different creature. Can we agree on that?

  37. Your blog is different (from Wine Enthusiast) in that it’s whatever you want to write about. Similarly, my comments are regarding what I want to read about 🙂 (I do appreciate your uncensoring of replies)

    A blog can take any literary form – reporting, creative writing, opinion rant, personal diary. I personally don’t want to read any more opinion rants… especially rants about how other people are ranting. There’s enough talk radio and television “news” commentary shows founded on it.

  38. “I admit to having strong opinions about certain things. That’s what I like about blogging, as opposed to reporting. For Wine Enthusiast I report. No attitude, no personal viewpoints, just strict objectivity. A blog is a different creature.”

    Interesting. If true, why should anything posted on a blog be taken seriously if there’s no guarantee that it is nothing more than a brain fart.

    Steve, until now, I cared nothing about this thread, but the attitude above makes me wonder if in print you practice journalism but online you practice, what, free association. I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

    I’ve hoped that we trained print journalists were online in an attempt to move the profession into a new sphere.

  39. Thomas, I hope that whatever your platform is, you argue strongly for Journalism School 101 standards to be applied to every blog in the world. Speaking for my own, I bring my opinions to the issues of the day, and if anyone respects those opinions, great. If they don’t, I’m willing to defend them.

  40. Eric, I worry about “ranting on how other people are ranting.” I really do. I try to avoid it. But sometimes it’s impossible. The blogosphere has become a political forum (for better or worse) and I sometimes feel the need to weigh in.

  41. Steve,

    I’ve been arguing for journalism standards in blogging. I’m told that my idea is outmoded–once again, I suppose.

  42. Thomas, I think that a blog can be part journalism and part op-ed. When it reports on news the reporting should be factual and solid. But op-ed is different.

  43. Steve, while I don’t always agree with your opinions, I do thank you for sharing them if for no other reason than they seem to attract lively and intelligent debate.

    Truly, it is sad that there are people that think they can get ahead by bashing others, but it’s been my experience in 44 years that this is how some people operate.

    Is there a need for more critical thinking skills in blogs? I think so, but I also find a lack of critical thinking skills in just about anything I read, see or hear these days.

    Thank you Tish, Sean and others for crafting a discourse that is both civil and enlightening.

  44. Morton Leslie says:

    Thanks for drawing our attention to the Mike Steinberger article. It is a terrific and important bit of wrting. I didn’t come away with the feeling it dumped on Parker so much as it reported on a change in wine criticism that is happening as we speak. The issues he raised are pertinent to wine criticism in general. Parker just happens to be the most obvious example.

    In the future it will be more difficult, eventually impossible, to send the “special” sample of a wine to a critic, or put them in your debt with meals, lodging and airfare (and a story) because everyone will be a critic.

    I meet inquisitive wine drinkers today who admit they once knew so little about wine that they bought it based on a number that stranger had assigned to it. They are sheepish about admitting it to me. I tell them they are ahead of the curve. I tell them that they have learned what other will eventually learn. That wine is far more interesting than a rating from a self appointed critic. I ask them, “What wines do you like?”

  45. Perhaps gloggers are more tuned into balanced wines and they are as dumbfounded as many wine makers about this guy. Parker supports wineries that make unbalanced wines that reflected the past 8 years of contemporary American society. Bigger-is-better, more alc, more oak, more tannin. Louder was better. RP was simply reflecting semi accurately the disposition of many Americans. As we became bigger (fatter), our vehicals became larger as did the wines. Disrespect the fruit on the vine = disrespect of fellow Americans and the breakdown of polite discourse.

    Giving huge praise to wineries that neglected the fruit on the vine, added tons of fake acid and lots o h20 at the crushpad, encouraging 30-60% new oak schedules, shorter barrel aging to get the wines quicker to market all play into the crappy society we’re living in.

    That’s why I take issue with the guy. Besides, anyone who smokes as many cigs as that guy did (does) doesn’t have a qualified pallate… This is perhaps partially why he rated viscous, massively structured wines so high.

    Why isn’t anyone talking about this fact???

    As literacy slides into decline, the triumph of the spectacle is poised for celebration…

  46. Steve,

    So was this run-on sentence, meant as humor?

    “Leading the charge have been Dr. Vino and Slate’s Mike Steinberger, who last week issued his latest fatwa against the Man from Monkton, resurrecting the increasingly tired charges of “ethical lapses” and “missteps” and warning, not only Parker but others of his Baby Boomer ilk, that they’re going to have to tread “a lot more lightly” and even then, they shouldn’t expect to “command quite the deference” they’re used to.”

    It is the crux of your whole article. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. You are bashing those that you claimed to have bashed.

    Stick to your argument, if you believe in it. If you are calling it all humor, then maybe some magic emoticons indicating such would be appropriate.

    You have insulted bloggers and all those that have attacked Parker, yet you have read nothing on the subject on the Parker bulletin board.

    I suggest you take a few minutes to get informed, before forming an opinion.

  47. Randy, I don’t know anything about Parker’s smoking habits. But I do know that the French have long been famous for smoking cigarettes while professionally reviewing wine. Somewhere along the way, I read a comment by a French winetaster that cigarette smoking actually helps make his palate more discerning. I think Parker simply reflects his own palate. He likes big, ripe, oaky wines. So do I, when they’re good.

  48. Morton–

    One of the things that on old fella like you should have realized by now is that the younger generation, of which you and I were once part, always thinks it has “the answer”. And while there is no question that this younger generation is going to take our place sooner or later, it will also mature and be less quick to throw out the baby with the bath water.

    If you were around San Francisco four decades ago, you will remember the war cry, “don’t trust anyone older than thirty”. That was great until we all turned thirty, exchanged our bongs for Bordeaux and got on with life.

    The chant of “democratization” and changing ways for wine writers are a little bit supercharged by those who would have us believe that the old generation got it all wrong. It has been easy to say Parker got it wrong just as fifteen years ago, everyone was dumping on the Spectator. Both of those organizations have survived perfectly well. Sure wine criticism will change, but it isn’t going away and, just like all critical evaluation, there is likely going to be room for the expert voice. Not because consumers are sheep but because there are tens of thousands of wines out there and no one can taste them all. Hell’s bell, I don’t read Parker and Gambero Rosso to learn about CA wines, but I surely do read them to follow wines in places where I cannot possibly know all I want to know.

    Now as to the notion of putting wine critics in someone’s debt, I guess there are shills everywhere, but the majority of important critical voices (not all–and Parker’s folks surely proved that point to the detriment of the majority of honest reviewers) simply do not get put into someone’s debt by a bottle of wine or a meal. We have thousands of readers who pay our bills, and we do the wineries the courtesy of listening to them. It is laughable (you must surely understand this) to suggest that a bottle of wine will change my findings or Steve’s findings or Laube’s findings of wines we taste and evaluate blind. That is what blind tastiing is all about.

    If you think otherwise, please explain to me the low scores that get given to some three-digit Napa Valley Cabs in my journal and elsewhere. In point of fact, the only way that folks like me and my critical brethren can survive is to be able to offer honest, reliable reviews.

    In your final paragraph, you commit one of the great sins in the wine world. You lambast opinions other than yours. You “ask them what they like” and then you tell them to drink what you have in front of you. You surely do not want any of us to think that your system is more honest, more helpful than a series of reviews that explains what the wine tastes, feels, will age like and what foods it goes with–all determined by blind tasting. You are simply setting yourself up as the expert voice instead of someone else–but in the process you are disproving your own assertions about the passe’ nature of the expert voice. Words like self-appointed critic are irrational in the sense that any of us only exist if people accept our opinions–and that includes the opinions you offer about wine.

    Wine writiing will change. It has changed dramatically in our time. You undoubtedly remember the days when slick paper magazines like Vintage and Wine World ruled that roost and Mr. Balzer, and then Finigan, ruled the newsletter world. Along come the mid-70s, the Summer of Love is behind us, wine is our new favorite enjoyment and CGCW, Parker, The Spectator, The California Grapevine all emerge and it is goodbye to all those who existed before.

    It is less likely, however, that the Spectator is going away, and Parker is an interesting question mark. Steve’s point re the Parker fund-raising is that Parker is not dead yet (sounds like a line from Monty Python). But, the question is whether his franchise can long exist without him. Probably not, but not because wine writing is being democratized so much as because he is the franchise. Can you imagine reading Parker if Jay Miller wrote it all?

    Bottom line for me. Steinberger has it right for some of the right reasons and some of the wrong reasons. And, in my humble opinion, so do you when you start declaring that the world has changed just because you see a few new wine aficianados growing up before your eyes. We all grow up eventually, and this process is not new.

  49. “But op-ed is different.”

    Steve, I disagree. Op-ed is also journalism, just as theater review is and sports scores. None should be the result of an uninformed opinion, and none should simply throw out facts that may not be facts.

    Even op-eds are edited, at any I have written have been scrutinized by an editor.

    That’s not to say that i begrudge anyone the right to an opinion, but I have higher hopes for blogging.


  1. - Why do bloggers hate Parker?... Steve Heimoff and his pooch I’m posting this in response to Steve Heimoff’s entry “Why…

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