Power List 2009: Parker gives way to Constellation
- Monday 1 June 2009
Richard Sands, 58-year-old chairman of Costellation Brands, heads the bi-annual listing of the most powerful figures in the wine world.
Parker, number one in 2007, drops one place amid ‘signs [that his] omnipotence is waning ever so slightly’, as his entry says in the July issue of Decanter.
The reasons for this are two-fold, the magazine suggests. Outside the US, there is less and less interest in the ‘big, ripe, high-alcohol wines’ Parker favours, and in his homeland he is facing increased competition, and ‘sharp criticism over the perceived questionable ethics’ of two of his contributors – as reported in the Wall Street Journal last week.
There is no doubt, however, that the Maryland-based critic ‘can still move markets,’ Decanter continues, citing rocketing Bordeaux prices after his verdicts on the 2008 vintage were published.
Sands finds himself in pole position, which he occupied in 2005, before sliding to third in 07. Constellation makes one in eight bottles sold in the UK, and as wine companies face ‘huge challenges’, it is companies like ‘the world’s biggest’ that will dictate what sort of wine the average consumer will be drinking.
Constellation’s ‘increased emphasis on the premium brands,’ Decanter says,‘suggests a genuine bid to lead consumers towards quality over quantity.'
The top ten includes three new entries – teetotal French premier Nicolas Sarkozy, Jean-Christophe Deslarzes of screwcap manufacturers Alcan, and Pernod Ricard chief Pierre Pringuet.
Other new entries include The Wine Library's ebullient video blogger Gary Vaynerchuk, Sanjay Menon of Sonary's, one of India's biggest wine retailers, and Shin and Yoko Kibayashi, the team behind Japan's cult Manga comic, The Drops of God.
And old favourites remain. Michel Rolland slips nine places to no 17, Bernard Magrez falls to no 29, while Annette Alvarez-Peters of Costco climbs to no 5, and Jancis Robinson to no 8. Decanter’s own Steven Spurrier moves from 16 to 15.
A new feature this year – ‘Ones to Watch’ – offers mini-profiles of figures who are becoming increasingly influential, such as Korea’s first Master of Wine Jeannie Cho Lee, and Sylvie Cazes, the recently appointed head of the Bordeaux Union des Grands Crus.
Decanter editor Guy Woodward said, ‘This year’s Power List comes at a pivotal time for the wine world and there are some really interesting moves. Arguably the most striking aspects are the increased prominence of political figures and the burgeoning influence of the Far East.’
The Power List is published in full in Decanter magazine’s July issue, out now.
MAKE YOUR OWN POWER LIST Do you agree with our Top Ten? Who would you choose for your own Power List? Vote now on decanter.com