There is no doubt that certain influential critics in the Fine Wine Market can make or break a particular Vintage as well as Chateaux reputation. However, as in any industry/business; one’s reputation is always on the line when trying to get it right every time!
There are a list of names that have become icons in their own right, each creating a picture of authority reflecting their own style and philosophy on an industry that has become recognized as a money making machine for the investor. Each claim to adapt an approach that is directed towards ´purity´; without monetary influence or design, but despite this, their thoughts and opinions when tasting the worlds famous wines are responsible for success or failure.
Robert M. Parker, Jr. is a leading influential wine critic. The most influential impact of Parker's writing is his 100-point ranking system. The scale ranks wine on a scale from 50 to 100 points, on colour and appearance, aroma and bouquet, flavor and finish, and overall quality level or potential.
The scale was developed to counter what Parker believed to be confusing or inflated ratings by other wine writers, many of whom Parker also accused of a conflict of interest, as they often had a financial interest in the wines they rated. His 100 point ratings and florid tasting notes define wine criticism, and are a major contributor to the prices for newly-released Bordeaux wine.
Vintage after Vintage, Chateau owners, wine merchants, brokers, and collectors all wait for Robert Parkers opinion and scores before setting their own strategies. A recent example is the 2008 Vintage; whilst other critics suggested it would be an 'average' to good year, Parker claimed ´magical´. His scoring of these wines created panic buying and the wines he had marked highly and overnight their value rocketed!
Below is a chart that shows the trading price for Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2008 from its´ En-Primeur release on the 16th April 2009 to when Parker released his notes 13 days later: