Wine barrels in a bodega. / SUR

Open letter to Robert Parker

ANDREW J. LINN

Dear Mr Parker, I have been privileged to watch your career take off, coast along nicely, and then settle comfortably into a happy retirement. We have had our differences, and I admit to being anti-Parker for most of that time, culminating in a legal threat from your lawyers to take the publication in question to court if it ever mentioned your name again.

It has to be admitted that you were occasionally over-sensitive to criticism during most of your wine rating career. Nevertheless it must be admitted that for the last 40 years the wine world has not been able to ignore you, and few would contest the nomination of The most Famous Wine Critic that has ever Lived.

Regardless of subsequent events and final judgements, you developed a simple technique that enabled Americans with minimal experience to get more enjoyment out of their wine.

This was the Parker 100 point scale, based on the simple scoring system used in American colleges. So simple in fact that you did not need to file a report, just award a score of between 60 and 100 to each wine. However, the rise of a small town lawyer to the world/s top expert on wines is a notable achievement, and never to be sneezed at.

The biggest fear of the international wine trade at one time during your career was that 'Parkerisation' would take over, and have a lasting influence on the trade. But this has not happened, and even the term has fallen into disuse.

The ten million dollars you finally settled for as a sell-out sum is fair compensation, although ownership of the Robert Parker name by the Michelin Group cannot be seen as totally happy ending.