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Parker hints at his successor

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Wine critic Robert Parker has hinted that Neal Martin could replace him as Bordeaux critic at The Wine Advocate but not « for at least five years ».

In the second part of an interview conducted by Liv-ex, Parker responded to a question about his future successor as Bordeaux critic by saying: « I don’t think you have to worry for at least five years! I obviously have the young Englishman Neal Martin on my team. He is very talented and he gets better every year.

« But I want him to keep on doing what he is doing – I don’t want to just promise him the job. When that day comes, if it is five years from now or longer, I will probably just open the competition.

« Neal will probably have an advantage as part of the inside circle, and he is only going to get better – and he just loves wine! This is very important to me. »

Looking over the expanding number of tasters now working for The Wine Advocate, Parker had to concede that his role had changed and he finds he is tasting more verticals and older horizontals.

« I haven’t really slowed down. I still love to travel and enjoy the chase – I’m like a truffle dog trying to find truffles, » he said.

« I love doing Bordeaux – I always have – and the Rhône is always a favourite. But I’m doing more verticals and older horizontals and more miscellaneous tasting with some of the best importers to try and find where their best values are. That gives me a chance to taste form the Loire, Alsace, wherever. »

He added that currently he is working on 1995 and 1996 Bordeaux, with the 96s « living up » to his hopes and the 95s still presenting a « stern and austere » outlook.

However, he has also recognised the pitfalls of managing more people and blames himself for the Pancho Campo MW/Jay Miller scandal last year.

He said: « I have to hire and manage people and I’m learning good things and bad things about this. I’m very proud of the people that we have, but I am still learning the supervisory and communication aspects.

« You always need to communicate exactly what you want. This is a challenge for me – I take part of the blame for what happened with Pancho Campo and Jay Miller in Spain. We haven’t seen the final investigative report from our lawyers, but at the end of the day, I feel that I did not supervise Jay Miller as effectively as I should have.

« I should have been more diligent in asking questions as to what he was doing and I should have scrutinised the way he did things a lot more than I did. Nothing was done that was illegal, but there were some things done that were just… I suppose perception is reality. »

Looking back on his Bordeaux tasting career he admitted that he was « originally worried about the tannin levels in 2005, but the wines are so concentrated I think they will be just fine – they just need a lot of time. »

Meanwhile, he stuck by his support of 2003 and while saying that careful selection is needed on the Right Bank, « the statement that the wines are all overblown does not apply at all to the top wines of the vintage. »

He also picked out 2001 as being « underrated » and « drinking beautifully ».

« The 2001s are very close in quality to the 2000s, particularly on the Graves and Right Bank. And the wines have evolved at a much faster pace – they are very fragrant, very perfumed. They are not blockbusters but they are rich. They are also very reasonably priced and somewhat forgotten. »

Outside of Bordeaux he displayed enthusiasm for the wines of Argentina, particularly Malbec and he also said he is « starting to get excited about what Chile is doing with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. »

Spain too he described as the ‘sleeping giant of the Mediterranean ».

Source: Rupert Millar
The Drinks Business
19th March 2012 

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