Parker: I’m targeted and misunderstood

Robert Parker has launched a savage counterattack on Hugh Johnson and British wine writers.

In a recent interview the American wine guru responded to Johnson’s accusation that Parker was a ‘dictator of taste’.

‘Hugh Johnson compared me to George Bush. I’m a great admirer of Hugh, but he really lowered himself significantly to write that,’ he said.

Parker also extended his counterattack to include all British wine critics. According to an interview in The New York Times, he sees UK wine writers as class-oriented and siding with the ‘old Bordeaux aristocracy’ in bearing a grudge against the new winemakers in St-Emilion and Pomerol.

‘Most of the Médoc tend to look at these people as peasants, as hillbillies,’ he said.

Parker also implied that until his emergence, wine tasting was not an unbiased practice.

‘I came on the scene and tried to look at things in a democratic point of view, on a level playing ground,’ he said.

Parker was replying to comments made by Johnson last year. Just prior to the release of his autobiographical Wine: A Life Uncorked, Johnson called Parker a ‘dictator of taste’.

‘Imperial hegemony lives in Washington and the dictator of taste in Baltimore,’ said Johnson.

The American wine guru has also complained that he receives all the flak while a range of competing tasters and publications are equally worthy targets.

‘When somebody wants to write an article attacking a scoring system or the influence of wine writers, who’s right in the cross hairs? It’s me,’ he said.

Parker went on to say that his palate was much more complex than the ‘simplistic view’ that he likes big, extracted, so-called fruit-bomb style wines and rates them highly in tastings.

Despite his complaints, the wine critic, who publishes his bimonthly newsletter, The Wine Advocate, in his hometown of Monckton, Maryland, also boasted of his success.

‘People who are leaders in any field are copied,’ he said. ‘There’s a reason why every wine newsletter tends to look like mine. They see someone who’s been successful, so they sort of copy the same ideas.’

While saying that he does not actively seek the publicity he gets, Parker admitted that he had ‘not done a good job’ of avoiding attention.

Written by Oliver Styles