(Not) meeting Robert Parker

This week Robert Parker was in town. The most famous wine critic of all: a true wine celebrity. And he was holding a press conference! This was quite a thing.

I was very excited. While I know some of the Wine Advocate team (I have spent quite a bit of time with both Luis and Neal), I had never met Robert Parker. And for many of us who started our wine habits in the 1990s, he was The Man.

I came to wine writing via an out of control wine hobby. So, gate crashing the world of wine writing, it has been cool for me to meet some of my wine heroes – the likes of Oz Clarke, James Halliday and Jancis Robinson. They’re the people who wrote the books and made the TV shows that I devoured as a wine newbie.

Was I at last to get the chance to meet Robert Parker?

In short, no. There was no invite!

Someone at the Wine Advocate head office had presumably gone through the press list and taken out certain names. My name got scratched through. As did Tim Atkin’s. And Adam Lechmere tells me he got invited then uninvited. Of course, I’m no big shot. With space constraints on the venue, could Tim and I have just failed to make the cut? It seems not. In what parallel universe does The Cambridge Wine Blogger  (Alexa rank 5.3 million, Klout score 53) come higher up on a press list than Tim or Adam?

This reminds me a bit of the infamous way that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson used to deal with the press. If you asked a difficult question or upset him in some way, you’d get banned. (See this wonderful example here.)

I know lots of people have been mean and unfair towards Parker and his publication. But while I have been somewhat critical of the practice of scoring wines and the whole wine critic model, I hope I’ve always been fair, and I’ve never been mean.

22 comments to (Not) meeting Robert Parker

  • Keith Prothero

    What a shame

  • Keith Prothero

    Can understand Atkin not being invited but surely not you

  • A real shame but if it is any consolation I understand the Parker events have been a little disorganised…

  • Mike Ratcliffe

    Have you ever invited him to any of your gigs?

  • Tim Carlisle

    Interesting, nothing against Tom Lewis but he does have a (what looks to me as ‘important’ day job as a Finance Director – whereas both you and Tim are ‘national level’ wine journalists and writers – whilst you are also probably the grand-daddy of wine bloggers (I know that when I started blogging in 2003 you were about the only Brit really doing it). So not sure how he gets there – I think it is probably because those doing the list actually just do not understand the UK market. It would be interesting to have an off the record comment from Neal on it.

    Although Tom’s write up suggests he might not get an invite again – comments as these …

    below a veneer of good ol’ boy humility, it is slick and well-choreographed

    Robert gives us a bit more of his charm, telling us he doesn’t really enjoy the limelight, he just loves doing his job, the rest of the panel smiling benignly as he holds forth, centre stage.

    Robert Parker has never been a hero of mine – too un-English for my tastes, he doesn’t quite work here in Europe, and it seems to show.

    and given his reference to Parker saying that it is others who put too much into his scores and not the notes I suspect that you might have been blackballed… But then if that is the case Tom will be next time.

  • It was Sue Glasgow of Spear Comminications who extended invitations to the press conference, so I don’t think an understanding of the UK market can be the problem. Jamie, have you spoken to Sue to discuss why you weren’t invited?

  • Paul Metman

    Come on, guys! I would be proud to be not invited! Maybe he considers you as a danger to his position :-)!

  • Hey Jamie, if it’s any consolation, I rather meet you than Robert Parker any day.

  • sven svenson

    Perhaps they only asked people who knew the difference between a noun and a verb.

  • Jason Carey DWS

    Well its the crumbling walls of an increasingly irrelevant empire. Nobody cares anymore except the Steakhouse and Country Club set.

  • CotonouPro

    “Nobody cares anymore except the Steakhouse and Country Club set”
    Hmm are you in the wine trade or what ? When buying fine wine for 95% of consumers nobody cares of anyone but RP …

  • 95% of consumers don’t know who Parker is.

  • I consider it a badge of honour not to have been invited. But I would certainly have asked some “difficult” questions.

  • Barry

    Parker’s legacy is fading fast. Any serious wine drinker dont really treat him serious anymore. The casual drinker couldnt care less. It is only the pretentious noob market who still worship Parker and JS.

  • Adrian Atkisnon

    I’m in the badge of honour camp, albeit I personally wasn’t expecting an invite.

  • CotonouPro

    “Parker’s legacy is fading fast. Any serious wine drinker dont really treat him serious anymore. The casual drinker couldnt care less. It is only the pretentious noob market who still worship Parker and JS.”

    RP doesn’t care about UK market it’s full or 3 for £10/11, check out how it works in the US and China the hottest markets in the world and you will see how RP influence everything for the wines he is rating.

    Look outside the UK if you want to understand anything about the wine world …

  • Sort of undermines the whole notion of “press” conference doesn’t it, when you decide a bunch of the press aren’t invited. Very lame move, especially since it had the effect of reducing the amount of coverage of the event. I’m sure you and Tim and Adam would have written (more) about it.

  • Gordon Richens

    As a former (I hope) noob, RP had a shelf life of about 2 years before my tastes started to show a clear divergence from his ratings. Now I’m more apt to buy a wine that he trashes just to see what’s up. Heh, so maybe he still has an influence.

  • Keith

    Parker is displaying typical robotic response to his narcissism. He has lately in some articles displayed some attributes, in response to his fame, with some feigned humility of a humble narcissist.

  • Luis Antunes

    Jamie,

    **I** wasn’t invited either. Go figure. In fact, I tried to visit The Man at his house, during a stay in the US, and he didn’t answer. Anyways… (as they say back there).

    In any case, you are always invited to my press conferences, and feel free to ask any question.

    There are important people, self-important people, and some that are both.

    A big hug from the South-End.

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