He has done more to advance the culture of wine than any person dead or alive.
In 1999, France even gave him its highest military award, putting him beside the other four-star generals of American food and wine: Julia Child, Robert Mondavi, and recently the great wine importer Kermit Lynch. His battered purple heart has helped define nearly every wine we drink today and presaged what we will drink for decades–if not centuries–to come.
If this is beginning to sound like an obituary, it’s because I hope it is.
With his staff in limbo and rumors already afloat about his own departure, Robert M. Parker, Jr. is now at war with himself.
After ceding his rights to Burgundy in 1996, snapping back his leash on Italian wine critic Daniel Thomases earlier this year, losing his heir-apparent Pierre Rovani to the shop floor, and now scavenging in search of fresh blood to write–and possibly run–the once-visionary Wine Advocate buying guide, Mr. Parker has gone from being the trade’s savant bon vivant to its fledgling CEO.
The tide in the industry may be turning against him, at least according to a recent article in The New York Times. In search of a new audience, he’s gone on to consult Wall Street with a modish column in Business Week magazine.
Unless his old hound Hoover can offer up some new insights for the thirsty hordes, it is time for Mr. Parker to jerk his last tasting abacus and leave the wine industry for good.
The looming question of course, is not who will eventually take over The Wine Advocate, but instead who will ever command the same force in every facet of the trade.
It seems perhaps the British would be right to have a go…
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson…?