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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
The Wine Buyer's Guide
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on 20 February 2004
This is a useful book for wine lovers and collectors. There are, however, some serious flaws in its scope and execution, as well as irritations for non-US readers.
Early on in the book, whilst advising readers how to serve wine, the author makes such an extended pitch for using one particular manufacturer’s wine glasses that it is hard not to conclude that he is a paid ambassador for that company. In my opinion, he goes too far into what reads like a commercial promotion.
Secondly, there is the sad and inexplicable omission of individual commentary on the wonderful dessert wines of Sauternes and Barsac in the Bordeaux section. Furthermore, at the end of the book, the inclusion of just a half page on South Africa could be mistaken for an insult. Better to leave it out altogether, given that this is approximately the world’s 7th largest wine producer and makes a great many wines worthy of inclusion in what is supposedly a comprehensive wine guide.
This (the UK is the most important export market for SA wines) and repeated American consumer-oriented references spoil what is otherwise an interesting inclusion in a connoisseur’s bookshelf.
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on 22 January 2003
This man has been described as the worlds most powerful critic, and it's true. Nobody, in any field, has as much infulence over his/her chosen field. People the world over, quite literally, make wines to please Parker.
Don't expect to find most of the wines in this book in your local supermarket, there are better books (Gluck, Oz Clarke) for that. But if you need to know about the worlds best wines, then there is abolutely no substitute for Parker. And by best wines, this means mainly France, also US, Italy, Australia. Don't expect too much more detail from other countries, Parker doesn't rate New Zealand much for example, apart from maybe Cloudy Bay.
So if you are looking for information on reasonably priced wines that are available in the high street, avoid this book. Most of the tastings are of vintages long since unavilable outside of an auction house.
But if you are serious about wine, then this is essential. And if you have any sort of investment at all in wine, you will no doubt have this anyway. A good review of one of your "en primeur" wines will send it's value soaring.
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on 17 February 2009
I would suggest that anyone considering buying this book on the strength of Robert Parker's previous fine publications should take a good look at it first. It is not what it seems. There is a brief introduction to each wine estate and then simply list after list of wine scores. There are no tasting notes. Quite why whomever has assembled the book has chosen to omit them is puzzling. Tasting notes are there in Parker's Wine Advocate and in previous editions of this book. It can not be a question of space - this edition is significantly shorter. The reader is thus left with nothing to read but lists of numbers. I am afraid that in this instance the purchaser was left feeling short changed.
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on 15 May 2007
This is a very good effort to cover a lot about wine in one volume.Parker does have individual books available on bordeaux;burgundy;rhone;etc that are even more detailed and this volume is a compendium of parts of these individual volumes.As in any such endeavour there is no doubt that much has to be left out to give the purchaser an even chance of having a book that is liftable,and others have pointed out some examples of omissions.But frankly,this book covers the most popular zones and the most typical wine choices one is confronted with.Sauternes (which is sacrificed) accounts for only an infinitesmal part of the wine trade.And no one other than the Brits drinks S.A. wines-so no great loss here either.What remains is a very good reference book that covers 98% of what you need to know.His rating system also has been criticised as favouring young full-bodied;fruit driven wines.But that is a reflection of his taste,and if you don't like these kinds of wines then read between the lines of this book to find the ones that suit you better.The big plus is that he has no qualms about saying which chateaux are past it;which are improving and which will be the future stars.No other wine reviewer speaks so openly about this.So well done to him for puncturing some of the posturing that surrounds this industry.
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on 1 January 2003
A fine addition to any wine lover's book-shelf, this weighty tome in 2 volumes covers French wines in great detail and other European wines in adequate detail. If you're looking to get a flavour of the new world you need to look elsewhere though.
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on 26 September 2003
Robert Parker has again published another huge tome and marked an enormous quantity of wines from all over the world. Some people might call this a wine bible, but it is not.

First of all, removing the numerous pages on Bordeaux, Burgundy and Californian wines would leave a mere 500 of the books 1,500 pages. This is all the more regrettable as there is lot more to discover in European wine countries such as Germany (a country almost completely overlooked by Parker and his assistant Rovani), Greece, Hungary, Portugal, and Spain (from the latter not a lot except for Rioja, Ribeira del Duero and Priorat). New World wine countries such as New Zealand, Chili and Argentinia don't fare much better.

Even on France, Parker could have done better. A bit less on Bordeaux would have created some space for exciting, and lesser-known, wines from regions such as the Loire Valley, or the south of France. The detailed description of Bordeaux's famous châteaux and vintages should be reserved to Parker's special book about this wine region instead of the world-wide wine overview. Worse still, Parker forgets to include most of the sweet Sauternes wines and focuses instead mainly on top-notch reds.

As for Burgundy, the author talks extensively about many wines that are not only dead-expensive but also available in such minute quantities that in all likelihood Parker will remain one of the privileged few to have actually tasted them...

Parker's book is helpful mainly for American wine lovers, but for European ones, to discover all those nice Oregon pinot noirs and Californian cabenets described by the author may well prove to be an impossible task.

The book makes a nice read if you're interested in wines for whatever reason. But for beginners and for European (quality) wine buyers, there are certainly better books on the market than this one.
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on 29 November 2006
I have both this and the 3rd edition, and I would strongly recommend you to have a recent copy in your collection, but not to rush out and buy the new edition every time it appears. The 3rd edition had >1,000 pages and this one >1,600 pages, I suppose the next edition will have >2,000 pages - which ever way you look at it, it's fantastic value for money in terms of /kg. I know that much is said for and against Parker, but the point-rating system and the well-written text makes it an interesting and useful book. I have read some reviews that praise Parker for opening up new wine producing areas, new markets, and new tasting options. Other reviews condemn him for pushing for one type of taste and for inflating prices. I look at what the book gives me. Firstly, I like the descriptions about the countries, producers and wine. Secondly, I like rating systems, his and others, because they can help me decide what to go for next. Thirdly, I use his book to check interesting options that I find in supermarkets (I live in Europe and our supermarkets sometimes have an amazing range of wines on offer) and wine shops. Some people say it is too oriented to the US market, but it nevertheless has provided me with a few good finds, and it often comforts me in buying some lesser known producer or region/grape combination. I will admit that I use Bettane & Desseauve for my French wines, but I tend to use Parker for its coverage of wines from the new world.
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on 13 July 1998
this book not only gives you a point rating out of 100 on specific wines but also rates produces on a general scale giving you an advantage on choosing up comming vintages not yet rated.this book is very complete and very usefull in any collectors library.Only flaw i found(becides my spelling)is that prior editions rate wineries different than the current book.This is an excelent book for all wine lovers.A must purchase!
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on 2 June 2004
There is absolutely no point in carping and moaning about it. Robert Parker is “The Man”, the “nec plus ultra” , when it comes to wine tasting, criticism and review. He is revered, feared, loathed, admired and beloved, in equal measure, by wine growers, “negociants”, importers and brokers (particularly in Bordeaux, home of the greatest and most noble wines), since it is he, who through his fearless and uninfluenceable criticisms, and more importantly, his 0-100 point scoring of wines, who effectively sets the prices that can be charged, and it is he who is the ultimate benchmark arbiter, world-wide, of which wines are good, which are bad, which are terrific, and which are abysmal. No matter who you are, and whatever may be your reputation, he will call it as he tastes it, and if that causes squeals of anguish amongst complacent or ineffective wine growers, so be it. For every big ego that he has bruised, he has elevated to recognition a brilliant, hard working, but previously overlooked wine grower from a less well known region or “appellation”. This has served as an inspiration to legions of young wine growers and oenologists, as never before. We, the consumer, bear all of the benefit. As President Chirac said, on the occasion of Parker being awarded France’s highest civilian honour, the “Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur” , “Robert Parker is the most followed and influential critic of French wines in the entire world”. Through his 0-100 point scoring system, which was at first much decried but which is now frequently mimicked by others, the wine lover, of whatever degree of experience or sophistication, is able to set out into the wine market place equipped with an invariably accurate, highly detailed, unusually informative and well judged companion and guide.
A word of warning: do not be seduced or beguiled by preconception or otherwise into the belief that an “RP” (ie. Robert Parker) score of 88 points or thereabouts reflects anything but a superb bottle of wine. You will not find many 88 pointers on the shelves of your local or out of town supermarket, let alone in your local off licence. As Parker himself describes it, wines scoring 80 to 89 points are “..very good. Many of the wines that fall into this range are often great value as well. I have many of these wines in my personal cellar.” Make no mistake. The wines that are reviewed in this book are, all of them, pretty damn fine. Only the very richest amongst readers will be able to undertake the pursuit of the various and mythical 100 pointers, whose prices will be out of reach to less fortunate mortals such as this reviewer.
The opening section of the book, in which Parker explains his methods and gives tips and advice as to the proper storage of wines, the use of additives, and making sense of the notion of “terroir”, as well as many other topics, is itself worth the price of the book. That is before one even comes to the wine reviews, which are set out region by region, and then in easy to find alphabetical order, with the recent vintages of each of the wines (four to five vintages from 2000 and prior are typically reviewed and scored, together with a “past glories” reference to any earlier outstanding vintages). The style of all of the writing, including the wine reviews is highly accessible and understandable, albeit within the slightly bizarre language of wine criticism.
Parker is generous in what he says about other quality wine critics, with whom he does not always agree, but whose integrity and passion he admires and respects. He says of Jancis Robinson, for example, that “no one should ignore what Britain’s leading lady of wine has to say” (coincidentally, Parker and Robinson are currently diametrically opposed in their opinions as to the quality of the 2003 Chateau Pavie, which Parker adores but which Robinson considers overblown).
A final thought, and the one that perhaps best sums up the usefulness and value of this book. I bought my copy of the book one year ago. It is big and heavy and seemed expensive to me at the time. It contains not a single picture on any of its 1600 plus pages. It is most definitely not a book for the coffee table. I have a good few other wine guides, many much cheaper, and some with a great many pretty pictures, and I use them all. However, the book to which I always make first reference and to which I always return, for one final check before sending off my cheque for another case of wine, is Parker’s. If you are a lover of good quality wine, or would like to be, you will have to buy this book.
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on 1 May 1998
Love him or hate him, you have to read him to know. He is one of the most influencial critics and what he says leads to frenzies of buying. Anyone who is a wine enthusiast will want to read enough of Parkers reviews to understand his palate and at least be aware of his presence in the market place. This book has been an outstanding source of information for me, especially as I delved into wine regions that I had little understanding of.
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