Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Brilliant article on how globalization can rework a cozy industry based on graft and deluding the consumer. Robert Parker, the most influential wine critic in the world, gained his prominence (and power) by being a consumer advocate, free from the commercial taint that other wine critics have, and judging wines solely by their quality.

This undermined the appelation system in France (particularly Bordeaux) where wines are rated (and priced) by who sells them. This allowed the old chateaux to charge exorbitant amounts for middling plonk. Parker, by not kowtowing to the established order, found a large audience who value his impartial advice, and changed the wine industry. Of course, he is hated in France.

This article is on the globalisation of the wine business, but in a strange way. it's an essay about how Robert Parker, rose to prominence by breaking the back scartching insider world of wine retailing, especially in Bordeaux. By being an outspoken advocate for consumers, and writing clear, honest reviews untainted by advertising or any other sort of support, Parker has gained control of consumer tastes. This revolution has meant that French wines are now being judged on their merits, not on who makes them, which is dismantling the appelation system that has placed the old estates at the top of the heap, year after year.

Globalization is NOT about loss of culture. It is about empowering consumers at the expense of producers through transparency and choice. (Thanks to NS for pointing me to the mag).

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