I have several excellent books on Burgundy, but this is the one that I refer to most frequently. Parker is the most influential wine critic in the world and as such has become the worlds most criticized wine critic, especially as to his 100 - point rating scale. For example, both Clive Coates in his book Cote d'Or and Anthony Hanson in his book Burgundy, both of which I highly recommend, are very critical of Parker's 100 point rating system. Some feel that wine is like music or art and should not be rated numerically at all (i.e., can one put a numerical rating on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and compare it to a numerical rating on Pachelbel's Canon in D?). Others argue that young Burgundies cannot be accurately rated until they are given some time to evolve and stabilize. There is, however, a fatal flaw in this logic. The producers, distributors and retailers rate the wines numerically upon release using a scale of $25 to in excess of $500 per bottle, and if a consumer wants to be assured of securing rare wines in good condition, such wines must be purchased upon release. In other words, the wines are numerically rated early in there lives, the only question is whether the consumer relies solely on dollar ratings established by the wine merchants, or whether the consumer seeks guidance from an independent expert before making a purchase of what are some of the worlds most expensive wines. As useful as qualitative critiques may be, they are difficult to interpret without a corresponding quantitative rating. The format of the book is typical of books of this type, containing an analysis of the various appellations, the producers and finally specific wines. The write-ups on the appellations are thorough. Additionally, for each appellation Parker gives travel tips (hotel and restaurant recommendations, etc.) that would be useful if the book were more recent. The analysis of the individual producers is the most valuable part of this book, and is the most comprehensive of any book on Burgundy that I have found; the book covers virtually every producer of wines that a consumer is likely to encounter. The section of tasting notes is not very useful since the book is 10 years old, and a consumer is unlikely to be able to find most if not all of the wines critiqued. The age of this book is its greatest negative. The quality and methods of producers change over time; this book is badly in need of updating.. Notwithstanding this flaw, the thorough analysis of the individual producers makes this book indispensable to any serious purchaser of Burgundy wines.
I think Robert Parker should stick to Bordeaux and leave the complex area of Burgundy and its wines to the real wine experts. I often travel to Burgundy to buy wine direct from the growers and through bitter experience can recommend to readers that they forget Robert Parker. Firstly, Robert Parker uses his Bordeaux yardstick to judge burgundies. If a burgundy is inky black and unapproachable then Parker is impressed and rates the wine highly. To any true burgundy lover, Parkers reviews are nonsense and show a complete lack of understanding of what makes these wines so delicious. Also the book tends to show that he rates only those wines which are sold in prominent shops on main roads where English is spoken- Philippe Leclerc for example in Gevry. Burgundy is unfortunately not like Bordeaux- where the estates are huge and the Chateaux produce wine like GM produces cars. Some of the truly stunning burgundies come from almost anonimous growers hidden down dirt roads. They may achieve a miracle one year and a disaster the next! Robert Parker feels more at home with Armand Rousseau (shop on the N2 main road!) and Romanee Conti because they are accessable to the English speaking tourist, but is incapable (seemingly)of discovering the treasures hidden in Santanay and Rully and other little know areas. In all -it is recommended to buy this book only if you can't find something from David Peppercorn or Serena Sutcliffe, Michael Broadbent or Hugh Johnson - all of whom know their stuff! Bordeaux wines and the appreciation thereof is a safe subject for wine beginners but Burgundy is more like a mysterious religion where only the gifted should purport to communicate the unknowable.