I Give the Gestapo 95 Points

From Decanter:

Parker slams Nossiter with ‘Gestapo’ slur
October 31, 2007

Robert Parker has accused Mondovino director Jonathan Nossiter of ‘bigotry’ and ‘stupidity’. Posting twice on his bulletin board yesterday, the eminent US wine critic savaged the controversial filmaker for his views on the globalisation of taste. ‘Anyone with half a chimp’s brain can see through Nossiter’s transparency easier than a JJ Prum riesling,’ said Parker. ‘It is Nossiter and his ilk (call them scary wine gestapo) chanting the same stupid hymn that demand wines be produced in one narrow style.’ Parker continued, calling Nossiter’s new book Le Goût et le Pouvoir (Taste and Power) ‘propaganda’ and labelling his 2004 film Mondovino ‘migraine-inducing’ and ‘disingenuous’. Nossiter argues that, ‘after Kant, judgements of taste are an expression of human autonomy, symbols of moral liberty’. ‘We live in a strange time, characterised, it seems, by the collective and willing abandonment of this liberty,’ he says. Parker, following up with a second post on the bulletin board said he was doing his part to ‘save the world from appalling stupidity…and the wine bigotry that comes from narrow-minded zealots.’ The publication of Le Goût et le Pouvoir looks set to cement Nossiter’s credentials as one of the most divisive wine commentators, with posters on falling on both sides of the fence. ‘Mr Nossiter claims to love wine but, really, he is in love with himself,’ said one poster, calling himself Jack. Others support Nossiter’s stance, with one New Zealand writer saying he ‘applaud[s] Jonathan Nossiter’s sentiments wholeheartedly’. Another comment pulls Decanter itself into the row. ‘Spot on, Jonathan Nossiter,’ said Sarah Hennessy. ‘Decanter Magazine: guilty as charged.’

I guess I’m now the wine gestapo according to Robert Parker. I don’t get it. Why would anyone at the pinnacle of their power like Parker lower himself with such mean spirited diatribes?

The paranoia is running deep these days at with forum host Mark Squires regularly banning members of the so called “wine gestapo”. Unfortunately they have banned such thoughtful and highly respected writers as Alice Feiring, who commented on her blog, “Like many other wine folk I’ve been amused by the going ons over at the site this week. While the Parkerbeestes*** feasted on Jonathan Nossiter’s book and politics and questioned his palate and wine knowledge, he’s proved to be a champ in France.”

The thoughtful, but not yet banned (I think) Lyle Fass comments. Parker’s attacks on anybody who disagrees with him are becoming more and more filled with hate and vitriol. He is definitely not winning any new fans based on these outbursts. He seems to be increasingly threatened by voices of opposition.

On top of this brouhaha, Decanter reports that, “Hanna Agostini, Robert Parker’s one-time representative in Bordeaux, is publishing an unauthorised – and by all accounts highly inflammatory – biography of the world-famous critic.” This attack once again caused great anguish at the forum, much to the pleasure of Ms Agostini as the free publicity will certainly dramatically increase the sales of her book.

I think it’s a shame that anyone who has accomplished as much as Robert Parker should respond to criticism in such a demeaning way. Taking the high road would be a far better strategy. What even he must find strange is the venom spewed by his supporters on his behalf. They act more like an Oprah devotee defending their idol than serious wine aficionados pursuing their avocation. These digressions and paranoid reactions only dilute Mr. Parker’s very real accomplishments and a fantastic forum filled with information that can be found nowhere else.

By using comments like “half a chimps brain” and “scary wine gestapo” , Mr. Parker has done more damage to his own reputation than Jonathan Nossiter did in his movie or book.