Thursday, March 8, 2012

Parkenstein! Explains Perfection


If you look back at the April 2007 issue, you’ll read that I predicted 2009 as the greatest Bordeaux vintage ever. That prediction has come to fruition. In my 35 years of reviewing Bordeaux, I have only declared 15 Greatest Vintages Ever. (I define “Ever” as Eternity, since I’ve been dead now for four years and intend to declare hundreds more Greatest Vintages Ever.) Ten of those vintages have proven unequivocally to be the Greatest Vintages Ever. The other five proved to be the Greatest Subscription Boosters Ever, and must, therefore, be considered extremely important. Personally, I think 2009 is the most important Bordeaux vintage of my career, primarily because it means no one is talking about that unethical fat jackass I fired a few months ago any more.


The great oenologist of the Bordeaux Institute, Denis de Menis, lists five conditions that need to exist in order to have a great vintage. 2005, the Greatest Vintage Ever, only managed to achieve four of the conditions. 2000, the Greatest Vintage Ever, only managed three, but it was the Greatest Vintage Ever so it doesn’t matter. According to Denis de Menis, the five factors necessary to a great vintage are, (1) an early flowering which, in France, usually leads to a youthful deflowering and makes those old boys happy; (2) a healthy set, preferably perky nipples pointed at the North Star, and unrelated to the set that unethical fat jackass I fired has; (3) early veraison, which gets better reception than AT&T; (4) the grapes have to ripen fully which simply means that they have to ripen fully, what’s so hard about that, dimbulbs?; and, most importantly, (5) I say it’s the Greatest Vintage Ever. Only if (5) is true is it a truly great vintage.


Yes, the prices for the 2009’s, at the top level, will be in the $1000 to $2000 per bottle range. You’ll never get to taste these wines, so don’t bother to criticize how many of them I scored 100 points. You can pretend you’ve tasted them, like most of my buttboys in my chat room, but everyone knows you haven’t. For one thing, you’re not Chinese, and they’re the people buying these overblown caricatures of wine. For another, who would sell you these wines? You don’t have the clout. Just get over it.

The good news is that at every level, even the cru bourgeois of the Medoc, the 2009’s represent great wines that are great values. Don’t focus on the best wines, the 30-50 Classified Growths and the cult wines of Pomerol and St. Emilion, you can’t afford them unless you sell your daughter into the Thai sex trade (more on that in my next “Hedonist’s Gazette”). Instead, check out my glowing reviews for even the bottom tier of crappy ass Bordeaux (as I affectionately call it when I’m wandering through BevMo in my bath robe and laughing my ass off at Wilfred Wong’s ratings). These wines represent sensational bargains and will certainly drink well for many years, or at least until I rate 2010 as the Greatest Vintage Ever, at which point they’ll begin to taste like your biggest regret.


I’m certain that there will be a tendency after reading through my report to believe that either I’ve changed the way I score wines or that I’ve succumbed to score inflation. This is certainly not the case. I score wines exactly as I have always scored wines—whimsically, and without any reproducible method. I find that this is the most accurate way to be largely inaccurate. It is my method to first declare a vintage the Greatest Vintage Ever, then I assign large numbers, rather creatively and unpredictably I like to think, to many of the wines, thus confirming it as the Greatest Vintage Ever. I do the same for “Wineries to Watch.” I declare them a Winery to Watch and a few months later I assign them, rather whimsically I think, high scores. Voila! I told you they were Wineries to Watch! My system remains the same.

Have I fallen victim to inflationary scores? Hardly. I only awarded 19 perfect 100 point wines in THE GREATEST VINTAGE EVER! This is remarkable restraint on my part.  But, want to hear something funny? Imagine the poor bastards I gave a score of 99+ to, I think there are about 15 of them. They’re going nuts now trying to figure out why they didn’t get 100 points. Pretty fuckin’ funny, don’t you think? What’s the difference between 99+ and 100? I can tell you in one word. Penmanship. But now all these crazy French Chateau owners will go nuts because 100 point wines are worth a LOT more money than 99+ wines. And a 94? In The Greatest Vintage Ever? Crap, that’s damn near worthless. So let’s stop this stupid talk of score inflation. You heard me. Just shut up, or I’ll sick my buttboys on you.

I invented perfect wines when I invented my 100 point scale. Until I came along, there were no perfect wines. I know perfect wines, and I’m telling you there are 19 perfect wines from the 2009 vintage. How do I define a perfect wine? I’ve always said that greatness is defined in wine by (1) the wine’s ability to stimulate the palate and the intellect in the 90 seconds I devote to deciding it’s perfect; (2) the difficulty normal people will have in obtaining it; (3) the ability to improve with age, especially financially; (4) me. The 2009’s indisputably meet these guidelines.

Much has changed since I first began reviewing wines professionally some 35 years ago. And by “professionally,” I mean I paid to have my notes published myself. I didn’t know crap about wine. Yet despite decades of being the King of Wine, admired and feared by everyone in the wine business; despite countless honors bestowed upon me by the French government, including a Lifetime Pass to Paris Disneyland and the much-coveted French Liver Society’s “Lesion of Honor;” and despite 35 years of tasting 150 wines a day, my palate and methods remain unchanged. Why would they change?

But wine, and especially the 2009's from Bordeaux, which I’m willing to stake my reputation on, is more perfecter than ever.


Samantha Dugan said...

Denis de Menis....dude, where do you come up with this shit?! Nearly horked my coffee.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

If I knew the answer to that question, I'd probably stop writing.

Coincidentally, I almost called him Denis de Merde.

Thomas said...

Yes, Denis de Menis is quite's also funny...and you forgot to include the...

Sometimes...being serious is quite funny...too..."I score wines exactly as I have always scored wines—whimsically, and without any reproducible method."

That was...serious...right?

Ron Washam, HMW said...


You know as well as I that satire is deadly serious.

I wanted to chime in on Parker's nymphomaniacal ratings of the 2009 Bordeaux, but in my own way. It is the topic of the week on blogs, but I like the challenge of speaking to the issue in an original way, or as original as I can be. I read Parker's introductory essay to his ratings on his website and decided I would just mock that. It's hilariously egotistical, though I'm sure Parker himself could never see that.

As I said over at Charlie's blog, it is wonderfully funny that the man who imposed the 100 point scale on American wine writers, who all now vigorously and hilariously defend it, is now singlehandedly making a mockery of it. Parker is now self-parody, and I'm a happy man because of it.

Thomas said...


Ron Washam, HMW said...


Yes, I understood all of those things from your words, but your comment gave me an excuse to further pontificate with my usual emptyheaded negativity.

So thanks for that.


Anonymous said...

Mr Parkenstein, sir, a moment of your time?

I'm changing over to a new database, and I'd like some idea of your thoughts for 2010.

Do I need to allow for four places in the "Score" column, or can I stick with 3? Specifically, will you be giving the 2010s 100+ or do you think you will stick with something more traditional, like 101?

Thanks so much for all that you do, Mr. Parkenstein. You're just the best.


There Is Life After Death Daddy said...

Mr. Parker is intentionally destroying the validity of the 100-point rating system so that no one will use it after he has gone.

Dead people can do that.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Those initials scare me.

I can't speak for Parkenstein--well, actually, I do--but I shall be using the Million Point Scale, which means you will need SEVEN places in your spreadsheet.

For example, I rated the 2009 Chateau Lafite 986,435. Though I haven't tasted it. Experience and my authority tells me that's an accurate number.


As I said, Parker is, unintentionally, I think, making a mockery of the 100 Point Scale, which certainly deserves it. I think maybe he's in his King Lear phase, ranting and raving in the face of the storm.

Marcia Macomber said...

"And my poor fool is hang'd!
No, no, no life!
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all?
Thou'lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never!"

Parker? Lear? All sounds the same to me.

I do like Dennis de Menis. I'm with Samantha on that.

winebookgirl said...

Also love Denis. Plus "The other five proved to be the Greatest Subscription Boosters Ever, and must, therefore, be considered extremely important."

Thomas said...


You appeal to such a literate crowd--what are you a leftie liberal or something?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Marcia Love,

Not bad, but I was thinking more along the lines of this from "King Lear:"

"I never gave you kingdom, call'd you children,
You owe me no subscription: then let fall
Your horrible pleasure: here I stand, your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man:"

And, of course, I get to play the Fool.


Nope, not a southpaw. I hurl my screwball right-handed.

David Vergari said...

El Maestro de la Manguera...ya gotta forego using the "fat" monicker. It's getting old, and besides, nearly everyone ITB knows what the donkey-butt in question looks like. Keep the jackass part. Definitely.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey David,

Well, you have a point. I shouldn't demean my four-legged jackass friends.

Other than that, when did you get so P.C.? "Fat" is a perfectly lovely word, and, in the comedic sense, helps the phrase scan better. I might have used "corpulent," but, really, not so funny.

Hey, I hear you're making wine down near, or in, Temecula now. Send me some! Or was I misinformed?

Nice to hear from you, David.

Anonymous said...

Parkenstein-san! You say "For one thing, you’re not Chinese, and they’re the people buying these overblown caricatures of wine." OK, but how about Japanese? Where to find these too much to blow characters of wine? Four Seasons Tokyo?

Thomas said...

"Hey, I hear you're making wine down near, or in, Temecula now. Send me some!"

You see, all these bloggers want is free wine.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Amen, brother. Mr. Vergari makes nice wine. I have no pride. I think that's apparent.

And you'll send me some of your messed up Riesling, right?

Thomas said...

Only the messed up portion of it.

Dean Tudor said...

RON: No matter how cynical I get, I can never keep up with you...

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Oh, keep trying, you'll get there.

But it's cynicism in the service of laughter, which is the only good it ever does.

Anonymous said...

Your semi-meaningless ramblings rate a certaing je ne se quois but are lacking in bouquet. Overall, while I see promise in the vintage remarks, the freshly laid asphalt on a French country road scent is only fleeting and diminishes as you continue to ramble. Therefore, I must, quite humbly, pronounce, that this piece is not perfection and, perhaps only on a par with the 87 or 94 vintage...

Mockingbird said...

I thought the line was:

"Keep searching.... keep searching.... you'll find it..."

TWG said...

Parker as King Lear is likely, but your writing is more Jonathan Swift than Shakespeare

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Thank you. While I'm most certainly no Shakespeare, I'm also not very Swift. On a good day, maybe Shecky Greene.

David Vergari said... Fuggedaboutit Maestro. BTW, didja hear about the contest to come up with the best description of PC...where the winning entry defined its advocates as those who maintain that "it's entirely possible to pick up a turd by its clean end"? My point was that the perp's physical apprearance is a blinding glimpse of the obvious. I mean, look at damn mug shot! I'd write more about his lame pony-tail but let's not engage in mission-creep.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


He just has the pony tail so people focus on that and not the puncheon strapped to his abdomen.

But, OK, enough. Though I still think it's funny how Parker's ethics issues vanished from the discussion the minute he discovered 19 perfect wines... He does know how to use his power.

Gerry Dawes said...

This reads very much like someone is blowing smoke up Darth Vadar's (I refuse to use the RP D.O. Monkton, MD ref anymore) ass. My the farce be with you. And God bless you my son.

Gerry Dawes said...

"I wanted to chime in on Parker's nymphomaniacal ratings of the 2009 Bordeaux, but in my own way. It is the topic of the week on blogs, but I like the challenge of speaking to the issue in an original way, or as original as I can be. I read Parker's introductory essay to his ratings on his website and decided I would just mock that. It's hilariously egotistical, though I'm sure Parker himself could never see that.

Suggested correction here: Ron, Did you mean nympho-onanistic-maniacal by any chance? Just asking. ;-0

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Parker continues to be the satirist's dream, the Sarah Palin of wine critics. This stuff writes itself. I just really hope, somehow, some way, he reads HoseMaster...

Yeah, right.

Kathy said...

I am tasting the big '10s today - in bottles (not from a thief...though that may be a point of discussion) but before official bottling.
I imagine everyone will be changing their recipes by adding 100 points though I am not sure what that would entail except for mixing with what was left from the '09 spittoons or the Languedoc.
So, I expect whatever I taste today will have no relevance to what appears after they Parkerize. (Coca Cola and Pepsi aren't the only ones messing with their secret recipes).
Oh my...I just looked up Parkerize and the secret is out!
"The process involves "submerging [tongue] into a phosphoric acid solution whose key ingredient is often zinc or manganese, with varying additional amounts of nitrates and chlorates and copper. ...[tongues] that are Parkerized turn to a light greenish-gray color within a few years, as the coating ages..." Wikipedia
So there you have it.
P.S. Fantastic subtle (and not so) lines here today. And using the particle "de" was brilliant.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Was that "Parkerize" you looked up or "Pulverize?" I'm guessing the Great Man's palate suffers from the latter.

Tasting the '10's already? I haven't even tasted the 2000's yet. But I know it's the Greatest Vintage Ever.

Unknown said...

Having just tasted all the 2010 Bordeaux wines imported by Kurniawan Cellars, I can unequivocally state that it is without a doubt the Greatest Vintage Ever! (I'll be right there, Officer!) These wines are overflowing with gobs of hedonistic fruit and a few stray shots of ink-jet spray. (Good to touch base with you again - you can thank Dan Berger for putting us in touch!)

Ron Washam, HMW said...


I'm hoping Parker gives at least 25 wines 100 points in the 2010 vintage, though, unless there's more controversy he wants to deflect, I doubt that he will. He'll go back to four or five. Show folks he hasn't lost any power or clout. In other words, no one cares what you think about Bordeaux.

Are we acquainted? Send me a PM if you like. As for Berger, I hear he said kind things about my piece.

Thanks for contributing. Come on back and hang around.

Eduardo Machado Araujo said...

Is just amazing the way you wrote it.
I had the chance to taste some of this wines in an event held by the "union des grand crus" and I can see they are great wines but it's a different world to have two dozens "perfect wines" (also, 99+ wtf?).

When he released the so called definitive scores I though, he was making funny of his own system.
And, now, reading your explanation, it makes sense. I'm laughing at the way you put it in words...

great stuff!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks, Eduardo.

Sometimes Parker just makes my job way too easy.