Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Robert Parker, Tyler Coleman, Atto and tomorrow

In the Ridley Scott film Black Hawk Down, General Garrison interrogates a captured Somali arms supplier, Atto. In the dialogue, Atto talks about the 'civil war', America's attempts bring peace, and says this:

I do know something about history. You see all this? It's simply shaping tomorrow. A tomorrow without a lot of Arkansas white boy's ideas in it.

That's the line I think of every time I read a Tyler Coleman (Dr Vino) blog on Robert Parker (not that Parker's from Arkansas, of course).

Coleman has obviously set his sights on Robert Parker and the Wine Advocate. For which I don't blame him - if you're a journalist, it is your job to monitor the centres of power (as Amira Hass or Robert Fisk might say). And Robert Parker is undoubtedly the centre of power in the wine world.

The latest Coleman attack questions how much Robert Parker spends on his wine samples. Coleman says that, from statements and an extrapolation of wine prices in one Wine Advocate issue, Parker must spend $700,000 on wine samples per year, a figure he goes on to query.

This piece follows the Jay Miller/Mark Squires exposé of last year, in which it was revealed that both men (contributors to Parker's Wine Advocate) had taken trips as guests of wine countries/regional wine bodies - strictly at odds with Parker's credo.

So what will happen now? Well, Parker and his followers will have already guessed that Coleman has his sights on the man in Maryland. Whether this item makes it to discussion on the Parker bulletin board is unlikely, especially given the latest lets-just-all-be-friends drive on the site. But Parker's manifesto, printed at the front of every issue of the Wine Advocate, will continue to haunt him, as will Coleman.

Because, you see, what you are witnessing is the fight for tomorrow. No matter how much Parker pads out his team with international names, he is still the only person who really counts. Who will be there when Parker is no more? Well, some of the ones with the most profile in the wine world will be the ones who have kicked up the most stink.

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Monday, 3 August 2009

Here's to your health, Fleming and Hassan

‘If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life.'

So said Sir Alexander Fleming, who obviously watched too many zombie films with a bottle of Oloroso by his side.

But he’s got a point. While medicine can cure us of our ailments, science can tell us how to avoid getting ill, and doctors can strive hard to keep us going while we fall apart, we insist on attempting to adapt the functioning of our mortal coil. Some of us inhale smoke, some of us go vegan, some of us shove silicone under our mammary glands, some of us want biceps like Arnie, some of us pump a gram of class I opiates into our bloodstream.

The thing is: we’re a social and metaphysical beast. Our interaction with other humans causes us to be unhappy with our condition, or to want to alter it slightly/greatly. Imagine if we were to ignore our desires and do what the doctors say.

In the Ridley Scott film Black Hawk Down, Abdullah Hassan, a Somali militiaman, talks to downed helicopter pilot Michael Durant and offers him a cigarette. Durant declines and Hassan says this:

‘You Americans don't smoke anymore. You live long, dull and uninteresting lives.'

Now, I understand that science has told us to disinfect our wounds, boil water before drinking it, told us wine is both good and bad for us, depending on the wind, and it’s told us that we can’t fly, and we’ll hurt ourselves if we try to.

Sometimes, though, we want to fly.

And can we please stop all these bloody ridiculous wine and health stories. Let’s all drink wine moderately, enjoy it, and leave it at that. Even the wine industry banging on about how good wine is for you, latching onto every single positive story and ignoring the rest, is getting on my (unaltered) tits. We’ve got far more pressing concerns. Like zombies.

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