I think that one of the reasons for this myth is the fact that I have been highly criticized for liking strong wines, very oaky and extracted. All that is far from the reality. It suffices to read my newsletter or my books to convince oneself. It's the same thing for the consumer. Consumers seek a pure wine, with character and this will always be the case. [my translation]I had to double check that I wasn't reading an interview with Keith Levenberg. Not everyone is convinced though. As my friend Steve Eisenhauer noted, "I take what he says in his reviews much more seriously than what he says in an interview and there is a significant divergence between the two." In other words, notwithstanding his protestations, Parker rewards wines other than those he said are good for the industry in the Le Figaro article.
Still, I wonder if we can move past the old arguments. For those unaware, there has been a Balkanization of the wine world between what is regarded as the "Parkerization" of winemaking vs. "traditional" winemaking. The fight has gotten rather ugly recently with both side hunkering down and resorting to juvenile behavior (for example, Mark Squires prohibits mention of the anti-Parker gadfly Alice Fiering). Notwithstanding the vitriol, there is much common ground and the differences have narrowed, although no one seems to want to admit it. Change is afoot and the examples are many: the pendulum seems to have swung back to some degree on alcohol and ripeness in California; there is a revolution of artisinal producers in well-priced regions like the Loire; the concentration of corporate ownership in Champagne is causing people to seek out grower Champagne; and the list goes on and on. In some ways, the rocky dollar and pound and the spiraling increase in prices of the vins de garde is driving people to look elsewhere and that elsewhere is artisinal producers that are more in touch with the land (be it biodynamic, organic or good sense). That certainly has been the case for me, where my purchases of '05 BDX and California Cabernet has left me returning to my roots of searching for inexpensive wines from lesser know regions. I've discovered wonderful wines from Touraine, Beaujolais, Austria, among others that I wasn't even looking for a year ago. You should have seen Lyle Fass' face when I came in asking for Chinon. There have been misses for sure, but I finally enjoy the hunt again after cringing through recent high priced purchases.
Bob has been pretty consistent with trumpeting diversity as a great thing for the global wine market, but that has been fairly well drowned out by the din of the old arguments on style. Clearly uniformity, to the extent it existed or was regarded as a goal, is now fairly consistently seen as a negative and stylistic differences are being prized more greatly. I think everyone should be happy with that. Perhaps those here that feel they need to defend Bob so vehemently can prize the diversity of opinion when it trends away from wines of amplitude and those that constantly take pot-shots can accept his place in the world while they try to establish theirs...or perhaps people will continue to argue over the same old things.