Robert Parker, the “big taste” maker, is back in the Napa Valley. The man largely responsible for the supremacy of Cabernet Sauvignon throughout the valley, whether terroir appropriate or not, is once again taking a stand for his beloved grape. In the most recent issue of the Wine Advocate, in a section entitled “Curtain Call – Return of the King” (referencing his return as Napa critic after the sudden departure of Antonio Galloni), Parker makes the type of splash that only “the King” can by giving no less than 12 Napa Valley wines a perfect score; 10 from the 2010 vintage. Think about that, 10 wineries made PERFECT wine in Napa Valley in 2010. Not almost perfect, PERFECT. One producer alone turned out 3 PERFECT wines. What did you do in 2010?
Parker’s Perfect Dozen (low retail price included where available):
-2009 Hundred Acre Deep Time – n/a
-2010 Hundred Acre Few & Far Between – n/a
-2010 Colgin Cariad – $575
-2010 Colgin IX Proprietary Red – $500
-2010 Colgin IX Syrah – $375 (Parker’s first non cabernet 100 point Napa red wine)
-2010 Screaming Eagle – $2,300
-2010 Shafer Hillside Select – n/a
-2010 Spottswoode – $145
-2010 Turnbull Fortuna Vineyard Cabernet – n/a
-2010 Dominus – $175
-2010 Hall Cabernet Exzellenz – n/a
-2011 Bevin Tin Box – n/a
In addition, a handful of other producers received a less definitive interim score, a range of points, that upon further review may see them achieve 100 points. On Parker’s site, the first page (out of 30) of the Napa ’10, ’11, ’12 section has Parker giving 3 wines either 98-100 or 96-100. Somewhat predictably all three wines are from Parker favorite Abreu. Clearly 2010 is a banner vintage, but perfection in such quantity?
We know that rating wines for score is a largely subjective pursuit but Parker’s bold and adamant declaration that the wines above were not 98 or 99 but 100 points leaves no room for a real debate. But in the end, “perfection” in Napa is little more than a reason for a price increase. Those who care watch with anticipation and hope as ultra-premium wines become trophy wines upon Parker’s decree. Even if his 100 point scores are technically debatable, to engage in such a debate would be useless. When “the King” speaks the market responds, even if it seems like “the King” is just trying to stay relevant.