"Something Sinister at Work"?

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wineadvocate.jpegRobert Parker's Bitch Weighs In On Wine Ratings
By Courtney Cochran

You have to hand it to Tina Caputo (Twitter handle @winebroad), the feisty young editor of Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine: she's got guts.  To wit, one only need spend 26 minutes watching her 2009 documentary, the controversially titled "Robert Parker's Bitch: The Wine Media's Influence on Winemaking," to grasp the degree to which she goes out on a limb to explore the idea that two influential wine critics - Robert Parker and Wine Spectator's James Laube - wield too much power over the evolving wine style in Wine Country.

Quantitative Quandary
The film itself is worth a look-see just for a glimpse of elusive winemaker Randy Dunn and the luminous Karen MacNeil, chairwoman of wine studies at the Culinary Institute of America. In interviews, both advocate for wines made in styles that prioritize terroir expression and balance over blowsy fruit profiles and exorbitant alcohol levels - characteristics Caputo asserts are favored by the critics she skewers. At its heart, the film has an important message: we've become overly reliant on the quantitative (read: point scoring) evaluation methods of a couple of highly influential publications, a fact that's led some winemakers to tailor their wines to an increasingly homogenous global style. And while the production quality is on the low end and Caputo's ranting can grate (in one scene she stands across the street from the CIA Greystone, where Parker is holding a tasting, shouting at the building), the message is a good one and Caputo should be applauded for going against the grain in an industry where conformity can be frighteningly intoxicating.  

Watch the film here.

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