Monday, October 27, 2008


My friend Kat asked me to let her know immediately whenever I stumbled upon great values while shopping for wine. She told me this after thoroughly enjoying a delicious and very inexpensive Vouvray I brought for a little get-together at her home some time ago. It was the 2006 Michel Picard Vouvray. I paid $8.99 at Cost Plus World Market, and all of us were duly impressed. Floral notes on the nose accompanied roasted hazelnuts on the tongue, with a pleasant, slightly bitter finish. Some background info: Vouvray is a wine from the Loire region of France, made from the white Chenin Blanc grape. It’s one thing for a wine to cost less than 10 bucks and be good, but it’s quite another to cost less than 10 and be really enjoyable. Buy it for yourself or anyone you know who loves white wines.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back from Italy!

Okay, I didn't just get back. No matter, read about my travels here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Book Review: Robert Parker

The Emperor of Wine: The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr. and the Reign of American Taste by Elin McCoy. HarperCollings, 2005

If I didn’t know much about Robert Parker before, I certainly do now. Before reading this fascinating book, I knew he was a controversial figure in the world of wine, sharply criticized just as much as admired for his famous 100-point wine scoring system and apparently one-dimensional preference for certain wines.

McCoy chronicles Parker’s rise as a wine-loving lawyer from Maryland whose discovery of and passion for wine led him to start a newsletter chock-full of tasting notes called The Wine Advocate in 1978.

McCoy has known Parker since 1981 and, in my view, portrays him pretty evenly, with evidence of both admirable traits and serious flaws. There was a definite sense of her playing devil’s advocate to his seemingly praiseworthy attributes throughout the book, and indeed in the final chapter, “Scoring Parker,” she outlines her opinions of his approach to wine and his undeniable power and influence, both good and bad. For example: “I find scoring wine with numbers a joke in scientific terms and misleading in thinking about either the quality and pleasure of wine, something that turns wine into a contest instead of an experience.”

Repeatedly we see evidence of Parker’s thin skin and inability to ignore criticism, sometimes bristling at it and at other times openly challenging it. That being said, what does he think about McCoy’s book? I wasn’t able to find anything online about it, but I’m rather curious about it, so if you can tell me, please post a comment!