Vintage notes: Robert Parker on the Great Wall of China

Parker was up there doing all kinds of Parker stuff.

By Jim Boyce

Four years ago this weekend, I set a personal record—one that still stands today—for most money spent on a wine event, when I attended the Robert Parker dinner on the Great Wall of China. I spent rmb10,0000 for a seat—roughly USD1600—which is quite a bit for me. No plans on breaking that one any time soon.

Anyway, it was the first visit to Beijing by Parker. It came during intriguing times, right on the heels of a Customs crackdown that had a major impact on ASC, which organized the dinner, and right ahead of the Olympics that had a major impact on Beijing. And it remains the sole occasion when I have heard “My Way” played on a harp.

I wrote a post in which, Parker-style, I gave the dinner a score out of 100 points, breaking it down by five categories—The Venue, The Wine, The Food, The Parker, and The Details. You can read that one here.

I also wrote a post called “The Secret of Big Bob“, which includes a conversation between me and the world’s most famous wine critic that might or might not have happened, and that might or might not explain his power over the wine industry. (OK, it didn’t happen, but it still makes complete  sense to me.) You can read that one here.

Finally, on the Monday after the big dinner, Parker led a wine tasting and then answered questions from the media and trade. Despite all the negativity I had heard from some in the business about Parker, people were conspicuously quiet when given the chance to confront him. That was fine for me and a few others, though, as we got to ask what we wanted. You can read my wrap up of that session here.

This all happened only four years ago but it seems, well, to be honest, it seems like a dozen years ago. We were all so much younger then.

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