Robert M. Parker, Jr., an F&W contributing editor, is unquestionably the single most important wine critic in the world. Since the inception of his newsletter, the Wine Advocate, in 1978, Parker has educated millions with his insightful commentary and inspired winemakers around the globe to create purer, less manipulated, more characterful wines. Here Parker chronicles 25 years of radical change. The Editors
With a large gathering of television and radio people and a huge crowd of well-wishers providing plenty of distraction, the president of France spoke, his words seeming to drift from afar. My vision was blurred, my back aching, as I stood straighter, trying to listen as Jacques Chirac praised one of the French actors or business tycoons to my right. I stared at the ornate decorations behind Chirac embroidered with the letters RF (République Française) and tried to take measure of the moment, but it was all dreamlikequite literally beyond my imagination.
Soon, I knew, Chirac would turn to me and explain to those assembled why a wine critic and country boy from Monkton, Maryland, was about to receive France's most prestigious award, the Legion of Honor. During those fleeting moments, I considered how dramatically the wines of Franceand truly the worldhad changed since all my sniffing, swirling and spitting began, some 25 years ago.