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Interviu su Robertu Parkeriu!!!

2011-02-21

Šio interviu laukėme du metus. Tiesiog prieš pora gerų metų susisiekėme ir gavome paties Roberto Parkerio pažadą atsakyti į klausimus. O toliau buvo ...tyla. Žinojome, kad jis interviu praktiškai nedalina. Bet pagalvojome, kad lietuviai gali padaryti daugiau, nei apie juos manoma. Mes turėjome ir tebeturime sveikų ambicijų, kurios turi virsti geromis naujienomis sau ir kitiems. Šis interviu yra išverstas į lietuvių kalbą, šiek tiek sutrumpintasir paskelbtas www.delfi.lt  Tikimės, kad jį pamatys kuo daugiau žmonių. Žemiau rasite pilną interviu anglų kalba.

Foto: The Wine Advocate

1. What did the wine mean then when you started wine writing and what does it mean now?

I see wine as an extraordinary beverage of pleasure and one that adds to the civilized joys of living a full life. That has never changed for me. Of course, I’m a world famous wine critic today, but the entire purpose of drinking wine remains the same – the search for the best in wine, whether it is value-priced or rare and world famous.

 

2. What does the wine critic gain and lose in life?

According to most medical specialists, the sense of smell begins to decline in the mid-twenties. I don’t know what to make of that, because I still seem to have an acute olfactory sense, but I will accept modern science’s suggestion that it can’t possibly be as perceptive as it was 20 or 30 years ago. At the same time, I think with each new vintage assessed and each new tasting done, one builds an extraordinary memory bank of textures, flavors, smells, and personalities of wine. Assuming one has the ability to focus on and retain these images, they offer extraordinary insight and a remarkably rich expanse of experience to draw from.

 

3. Can wine still surprise you?

Wine always surprises, mostly in a good way, but also sometimes in a bad way. I love to follow the development of wines, and see how they behave, similar to people. Some are always open, exuberant, friendly and fun to be around, while others can be whimsical, shy, extroverted, or even completely foreboding and unpleasant. I am convinced that much of the excitement of wine, aside from the pure pleasure it gives, is the thrill of wondering just what will be underneath the cork when it is pulled from the bottle.

 

4. What would you love to pursue if not wine?

While I am very happy to be a wine critic and a successful one, I have always wanted to be a great guitarist. That’s a whole different skill set, but I love music, and I admire those who are prodigies when it comes to playing classical or electric guitar.

 

5. How did the idea to leave Farm Credit Bank mature in your mind and what was bank’s authorities reaction when you informed them?

I was never a happy lawyer. As a student, I didn’t care for the discipline of law school, and when I was hired as a lawyer for the Farm Credit Bank, I found the work boring and just entirely too dry. My entire love of life beyond my wife was wine, and how to make a living at it. I gave my employer several months notice and they were surprised that I would give up a “noble field” such as law to pursue the unchartered, frivolous field of wine criticism.

 

6. Where is the secret of the TWA success (from 600 to 50,000 copies)?

Overlooked in many people’s stories of success is the hard work they put into it. I think I immersed myself in the field to a greater degree than anyone else ever had, reading every book that had ever been published, some several times, and trying to taste every wine that had ever been produced (Of, course, I realize now that is impossible, but I thought I could do it when I first started, and I certainly tried.) I think the thoroughness of The Wine Advocate, its integrity, independence, and the fact that my judgments were generally accurate led to its international success.

 

7. Where do you put must of your heart in: the TWA, books, erobertparker.com?

My career may be looked at as an umbrella with different parts, such as the print publication of The Wine Advocate, the books that are published, and of course, the website, www.erobertparker.com. However, my heart and soul go unto the actual tasting notes, which of course appear in all three of these venues. The whole idea of writing a meaningful tasting note that is fair to the producer, who has hopefully tried to make the best wine he or she can from the terroir, while at the same time writing something educational and reliable to the consumer is a challenge. My tasting notes have to communicate and have to be honest, and that is where my heart and soul rests.

 

8. Do you get any feedback from the Lithuanian or Baltic readers?

I get very little feedback from readers other than the occasional fan letter.

 

9. Are you going to introduce new (and what) electronic services to offer in the future?

We have a new wine cellar management program that is finally finished and the beta testing nearly completed. It is a state-of-the-art program that will be available free to subscribers to the www.erobertparker.com website.

 

10. Your new crew member Neal Martin exhibits a modern Cinderella story. New people to recruit?

I think success in the wine world often depends on the ability to find young, talented, enthusiastic young writers who love wine and recognize that no matter how much one learns, one will always remain a student of this profession. Neal Martin is such a person. He has a great sense of humor, is a very hard-working person and a creative writer. I am very pleased that he has been so well-received at The Wine Advocate and by our subscribers.

 

11. Blind or non blind tasting: advantages and disadvantages? Or is another, better way to taste?

I have traditionally done both types of tastings, blind vs. non-blind. The fact that I now spend so much time visiting estates rules out blind tastings, since you obviously know the address where you’re tasting. Now I use blind tasting primarily as a guide to check up on my reviews, once I have issued them, to make sure I am not influenced by labels (which I’m not) and also to test myself and see if my skill at guessing wines, their appellations or terroirs is still good. The most important thing in tasting is to judge only what is in the bottle, not its pedigree, its rarity, its price point, or history. I think a good wine critic is easily able to do that. If the label influences you, you shouldn’t be a wine critic.

 

12. Wine gurus you rely upon now and earlier?

I have had no mentors or wine gurus that I ever relied upon. That said, however, I have admired the wine writings of many British wine writers, who dominated wine writing for so many decades, most notably Hugh Johnson, the late Harry Waugh, and the late Edmund Penning-Rowsell, as well as David Peppercorn, Serena Sutcliffe, and of course, several of my contemporaries, such as Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke.

 

13. What would be the most important advice for wine writers?

The best advice is to write what you believe, ignore other wine writers completely, try to be fair to the producer, who in most cases has worked very hard trying to produce a competent wine, and to recognize that the ultimate audience is the wine consumer. That is who will judge whether you are a success or a failure.

 

14. Can wine writers from wine business (i.e. sales) be objective?

I think wine writers who are in the wine business need to be completely transparent about the wines they sell, and I would certainly be skeptical of their reviews of the wines they are in the business of selling. Aside from that, though, I see no reason why they couldn’t be completely fair and balanced in their analysis of wines. It is only to their benefit and credibility to be so.

 

15. How is it possible for the winery to send samples for your tasting? Do you accept all?

I rarely solicit samples, but of course, samples are sent to my office all the time. Most of the top wines and reference point wines of the world don’t send samples, so a wine critic has to visit them in order to taste those wines, which is fine with me.

 

16. Have you found wines of your dreams?

I find wines of my dreams all the time. In fact, thirty-five years ago, my job was a dream, and of course, now it’s a realization. I think there are so many great wines in the world. We have been blessed by a proliferation of new wine regions and a young generation of men and women who have pushed the envelope of quality, and wine consumers have benefitted enormously. I am positive that 20 or 30 years from now, the period from 1990 on will be looked at as a golden age for wine quality throughout the world.

 

17. Your own wine cellar: what do you treasure most?

In my own wine cellar, I think I most treasure my remaining 1982 Bordeaux, which I bought as wine futures, since of course, that is the vintage that made my reputation.

 

18. How often do you drink (not taste) wine during a week?

When I’m not tasting, I tend to drink wine daily, but I rarely consume more than a half bottle per day.

 

19. How is the vineyard with your brother-in-law in Oregon doing?

I rarely talk about the Oregon winery that I own with my brother-in-law, since it is an obvious conflict of interest. All I am willing to say is that we have produced over 20 vintages. It is a small artisinal vineyard, biodynamically farmed, producing Pinot Noir. Oregon is much like Burgundy, with a challenging climate, and I am very proud of the effort my brother-in-law puts in. He is an impeccable farmer.

 

20. What is the most important factor in good wine making nowadays?

I think there are several factors that are essential in making good wine. First, having a good site is important, as is very conservative farming, keeping yields reasonably low, and picking ripe (not over-ripe or under-ripe) fruit. Then, in the actual winemaking process, vinifying the fruit in a natural but clean way in order to translate the quality of the grape varietal, the terroir, and the vintage personality, and doing it in as uncompromising and natural a manner as possible, is the best a consumer or wine critic can expect from a wine producer.

 

21. Can we compare wine styles from the first half of the 20th century and now? What changed?

We’ve seen an evolution since the 1970s. Wines are now made from riper fruit, with stricter selections made in the vineyard and in the wine cellar, and the wines are vinified with much more care and cleanliness. The fruit quality that we find today in wine is much purer, much more expressive, and in many cases, more concentrated. We have also seen alcohol levels rise one, two, or even three percent, as under-ripe grapes are discarded from fermentation tanks. When the selection process only allows fully mature grapes into the fermentation vats, from riper grapes we get sweeter tannins, and wines that can be enjoyed at a younger age. I don’t believe, in terms of Bordeaux, Burgundy or Rhône wines, or even California Cabernet Sauvignons, that this earlier stage of accessibility limits their drinkability at an older age. They have no shortage of tannins (in fact, most modern-day top vintages have more tannins than the old classics), but the tannins are sweeter, riper, and more velvety.

 

22. What are the main challenges for the wine culture in this century?

Wine production throughout the world has outstripped wine demand. The world-side economic recession has certainly been a challenge for many new wineries throughout the world. The old-line, prestigious wineries have fared well, and of course, the rise of China as the great new economic powerhouse and empire has led to an increase in the consumption of all consumer goods there, including fine wines. The wine industry needs to be far more technologically sharp, establishing informational websites available in many different languages, setting up interactive bulletin boards so consumers can access information about their products instantly, sponsoring more promotions and wine tastings, whether the wines are from Rioja in Spain or Châteauneuf de Pape in the Rhône Valley or Montepulciano in Southern Italy, to explain wines to new consumers throughout the world. This cannot be done completely by the public relations people or by wine critics.

 

23. How can one explain a relative success of new World wines in the era of overproduction?

New World wines have an appeal of their own in that they are generally richer, fuller-bodied, and more exuberant than similar wines from the Old World. For younger wine consumers looking for immediate gratification, there is a lot to be said for this style of wine, which is endearing from the very beginning of its life.

 

24. Do you believe in biodynamisation of wine making?

While I believe that some producers have used the labels “biodynamic” and “organic farming” to promote their wines, I am in favor of fewer herbicides, pesticides, insecticides and chemicals in the vineyards, and I am one-hundred percent in support of the use of more natural viticultural as well as wine-making techniques. Certainly the marketplace and the wine producers themselves have moved in this direction in a very aggressive way over the last 20 years. What I don’t believe, however, is that just because a wine is biodynamic or organic, that it is a better wine. There is no proof of this whatsoever, but more natural winemaking is certainly a worthy trend and one to be encouraged.

 

25. Cork or screwcap?

I think all fine wines should be cork-finished. After an abysmal period during the decade of the 1990s, the quality of corks has improved dramatically. The percentage of tainted or corked bottles in all of my tastings has dropped from a high of 7-8% fifteen years ago to approximately 2-3% today. I totally endorse screw caps for wines that are meant to be drunk within their first one to two years of life, but I am very skeptical of the use of screw caps for wines meant for ten to twenty years of cellaring.

 

26. Where to look for surprises in the world of grapes and regions worldwide?

There are never any shortages of surprises. Perhaps the greatest surprises over the last decade have been the fabulous number of high quality wines that have emerged from Spain, from Southern Italy, the re-emergence of the Southern Rhône in France, as well as Languedoc-Roussillon, the greatness of Malbec from Argentina, the increasingly high quality wines from Chile, and of course, the proliferation of high quality wines from many different grapes in California as well as the Pinot Noir revolution taking place in both Oregon and New Zealand.

 

27. Where is the line where the wine inflicts harm to health?

Fundamentally, wine is a beverage of moderation. Of course, it can be abused, like anything can, but most people who drink wine tend to have a more responsible appreciation for the dangers of its excesses than those who are beer or liquor drinkers. We certainly know there are many good benefits from wine consumption in moderation, and I believe it is up to the individual to recognize that excess in anything is unhealthy.

 

28. What to tell children about wine and alcohol?

I have always liked the European model, where children are exposed to wine at a very early age, and it is never considered taboo. The idea that it is part of a meal and a complement to the meal is a very healthy philosophy to follow. The idea more common in the United States, which forbids wine for any person until they are 21 years old, only seems to encourage a fascination with alcohol and promote a rather perverted view of it.

 

29. What wine educational institutes would you recommend in Europe?

I’m not sure exactly what you mean, but I do believe that more educational efforts by wine trade associations can only be a benefit to the wine business and to wine consumers.

 

30. Is there a chance to ask for a small article of yours about wine for the Lithuanian wine enthusiasts before Christmas?

Well, I’m too late for Christmas due to my recent knee surgery, but I must say that I would love to visit Lithuania some time, as I have heard wonderful things about its people, your traditions, and how much beauty can be found in your country.

 

31. A few words for wine enthusiasts in Lithuania. Thank you.

Thank you for your interest, and I apologize profusely for taking so long to respond.

 

Sincerely yours,

Robert Parker, Jr.

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