The "after Parker" in Australia, and among wine critics
There are those who celebrate wine after Parker with great joy, and then there are those who continue being influenced by the great Robert, but today all ratings are worth less than before
After Parker the “The Drinks Business” portal, always very attentive to what is happening in the wine and beer worlds , published an interview given to Master of Wine Chris Hancock (Robert Oatley Vineyards in New South Wales in Australia) . He is known as Mr Chardonnay because he spread this variety down under at the beginning of ht 1980’s. This article stimulates some thought.
The sentence that hit me was << We have just about lost all of the jammy, alcoholic, heavy, dead skin Shirazes that are Parker pleasing palate killers, which is an hallelujah moment. Instead, we’re moving towards lighter, brighter more interesting wines from quality producers>>
So in Australia too there is a change in direction, and after affirming itself with big monumental wines characterized by exaggerated amounts of pulp, wood and alcohol, and in so giving the impression that these out to be chewed rather than drunk, they are now looking for an identity through a careful attention to the vines. A lot of courage is necessary for such an action and especially a lot of courage is necessary to wave it in with a Hallelujah. Many, like me, thought that those were the characteristics typical to the Syrah grapes grown in Australia where the same wine takes on the name Shiraz. I did not know that they depended on the Robert Parker influence. This is what shocked me.
The search for localism, for naturalism, for elegance and for distinctive characteristics in the wine is a worldwide trend. A tendency that some call “after Parker” to indicate the change in trend with respect to the previous 30 years, where, the famous lawyer/taster, was the undisputed, most influent man of the wine market in a planetary way.
In truth the change regards an overall evolution in out tastes, that is shared by many young wine critics. One of these is in fact Monica Larner, amazingly, the taster for Italy for Wine Advocate-Robert Parker who has enhanced autochthonous varieties and minor appellations rewarding localism , as in Brunello she has put into evidence the tow spirits of this wine: the elegant that looks toward Burgundy (large barrel) and the powerful one that looks toward Bordeaux ( barrique). Yin and Yang in Brunello, the cool of the night , and the sun.
To describe the beginning of a new style as if it were the end of a dictatorship << an hallelujah moment>>to be celebrated with joy I feel is wrong, even though it is a sentiment shared by a large share of wine critics. Those present at Wine2Wine 2015 heard Robert Joseph and his report on “Life after Parker”. I am not sure but I feel that Robert Parker’s presence was more problematic for the colleagues rather than for the consumers. This is curious as still today many are close to the Parker style, in other words for many experts the “after Parker” will never arrive. Those in fact who have rewarded the big wines, full of muscles, from the beginning of the century will remain faithful to themselves and to their taste. The consumers on the other hand have been freer and quicker in changing idea , just as in clothes, furniture and food.
One must not forget that the “after Parker” has been characterized also by the great influence of the ratings published by guides and wine magazines. Today it is very improbable for a sommelier in a restaurant in Boston or in Chicago to ask a producer for the ratings of his wines. Maybe these are more useful in the wine monopolies in Canada, for example, where to have received 95/100 on Wine Advocate-Robert Parker or on Wine Spectator still makes a difference. The new protagonist is the web and the possibility of consulting online expert opinions, and those of other consumers. Maybe this is the after Parker, a less defined style but one also able to embrace millions of ratings allo ne different form the other.