Who hasn’t heard of Robert Parker? In the world of wine, there is probably no-one who isn’t aware of this American lawyer, though they nothing of his work in the courtroom. A passionate wine-lover, he launched his seminal wine journal The Wine Advocate in 1978 purely as a way of publishing his own opinions on the wines he was drinking. 40 years on, the points awarded by this small, leaflet he founded continue to be revered and have an enormous influence on wine markets around the world.
Whether respected or distrusted, there is no doubt that the Wine Advocate still leads the field in worldwide influence, though Parker himself has long since sold the publication. Others have gained in influence, either through their broad experience or with a stronger depth of knowledge in a certain niche, such as Tim Atkin, Jancis Robinson or James Suckling . They visit wineries and taste both the better known and the up-and-coming producers and then publish commentaries and ratings in a range of different media, both traditional and on-line.
Globalisation means that even lesser international critics have an effect on the local scene, but Spain also has some strong players in the field. By far and away the best known is José Peñín, whose famous green guide first appeared in 1990, an annual and totally exhaustive guide to the Spanish wine industry which is on its 27th year and reached a total of 11,500 wines tasted in the 2018 edition. Peñín is not the oldest guide on the market though, as the Guía de Vinos Gourmets is already 33 years old. The third guide to bear in mind is the Guía Proensa , written by highly respected journalist Andrés Proensa.
Although they may not have annual guides, other critics have built strong reputations by publishing in many different media, amongst them Carlos Delgado and Joan Gómez Pallarès. By publishing regularly, a handful of names have grown to deserve the respect of readers for the breadth and depth of their knowledge.
But to come back to our original question, do we really need wine critics? The answer is probably yes, we do, and for one than one reason. First of all, they highlight the work that wine-makers are doing which in turn adds value to wine in general, transforming it from a simple, rural, everyday beverage into a sophisticated cosmopolitan gastronomic product. Their discourse helps to reveal what has gone on behind the scenes in the production of a simple bottle of wine: ideas, hard work, creativity, design, techniques, a sense of place, history and many, many more.
Eduardo and Víctor Hernáiz have always respected the opinion of the press and whenever leading wine critics speak well of their wines, the whole team is pleased to hear it, as it is a hearty pat on the back for the effort they have put in, but also because it underlines that consumers can be confident in the quality of the wines.
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