April 26, 2024

‘Nosey Parker Wine Room’ – An ode to wine critic Robert Parker

By Hazel Cameron

‘Nosey Parker Wine Room’ – An ode to wine critic Robert Parker

After years in the making, we finally launched our ‘Nosey Parker Experience’ at our home in McLaren Vale, South Australia. As name would suggest, the experience and the space in which it operates, ‘The Nosey Parker Wine Room’ is an ode to wine industry legend, Robert Parker.

“I am honoured to bring this experience to life as an ode to my old friend, fellow left-hander and wine industry legend, Robert Parker who has had a profound impact on Mollydooker’s story and me personally. To honour this, I asked Bob if we could use his name at Mollydooker and he said yes!” – Sarah Marquis, Owner & Chief Winemaker

The two hour experience has been carefully crafted by Sarah Marquis to serve as the ultimate wine masterclass, of course with a Mollydooker twist. Learning how to score wine using Parker’s ‘100 point rating system’©, guests will undergo a blind-tasting of six wines as they are taken on journey of deep wine exploration. Along the way, they will learn all about Robert Parker and the influence he’s had on the wine industry across his impressive career that spanned over 4 decades. Following this, guests will then learn how to score using Mollydooker’s own system and measure of quality, The Marquis Fruit Weight™.

The Mollydooker & Robert Parker Story 

I hope you enjoy reading our story of how it all evolved and the reason behind us creating the Nosey Parker Experience.” – Sarah Marquis, Owner & Chief Winemaker 

Who is Robert Parker?

“The father of modern wine criticism” 

Robert Parker has been famously labelled as not only the most influential wine critic in the world, but the most influential critic of any kind. His love of wine can be traced back to 1967, when Bob took a brief break from studying law and made his first trip to France on the heels of a young lady friend who was studying in Alsace. Parker discovered wine during this trip, and he was hooked…In the early days of creating his own wine guide, Parker recognised that a large portion of wine writing was corrupted by financial partnerships between wineries and writers. He set out to create a publication that would produce unbiased views on wines and served only the interests of consumers. This would be a magazine that was funded purely by subscribers – the people that buy, read and use it. And so, The Wine Advocate began.

Parker’s credibility soared in 1983, with his controversial glowing reviews of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage. He created a stir among most other major wine writers who felt the vintage was too ripe and the wines wouldn’t age. When Parker’s predictions about the vintage turned out to be true, his reputation and the readership of The Wine Advocate skyrocketed.

Throughout his career, Parker’s contagious enthusiasm and high scores ignited interest in unknown wines and showcased regions that had not yet been written about. He made the appreciation of wine an approachable and rewarding hobby for many people that had previouslyconsidered it beyond their reach and reserved for only the elite. Parker reviewed wines in plain-speaking English, a style that was relatable to all, with the aim to find great value wines and to call out mediocrity, no matter where the wine came from.

Taking the label from ‘wine writer’ to ‘wine critic’, Parker was the first to give the consumers what they wanted- an honest critique, one that very quickly became gospel.

The Early Days & Robert Parker’s Influence

The story began over a decade before the start of Mollydooker… In 1994, Sarah and Sparky started in the wine industry, with the production of their first vintage with Fox Creek Wines, a brand that started with Sarah’s parents. This wine, the 1994 Fox Creek Shiraz, kickstarted their careers as winemakers, winning the McLaren Vale Bushing Trophy for best wine in show.

Soon after, in 1998, Dan Philips who was importing Fox Creek into the US, invited Sarah and Sparky across the pond to taste with Parker for the first time. From here, in partnership with Philips, Sarah and Sparky’s next venture, Marquis Philips began. In 2000, their first vintage was produced. A few years later, the couple met again with Parker to review the Marquis Philips 2000 and 2001 vintages.

Soon after this tasting, The Wine Advocate report read“Marquis Philips is the most exciting wine project to emerge from Australia, and perhaps the New World, in the last year. Run, don’t walk…and secure as much as you can of these wines”, and people did! Parker’s glowing reviews launched Marquis Philips into the stratosphere at a rate they could never have predicted. The demand was so high that the business was able to grow from just 8,000 cases per year to 120,000 in the space of 5 vintages.

In 2005, the Marquis Philips partnership abruptly ended. Sarah and Sparky left the business to pursue a venture of their own. The pair were left with enough wine in barrel to produce 30,000 cases, and so Mollydooker was born…

The next year brought considerable hardship to the business. With a lot of emotional and financial support from family, friends and the local community, Mollydooker were able to produce and bottle their first vintage of wine ready for sale. With confidence in the quality of their wine and enough experience in building brands, Sarah and Sparky knew that the best way to get their wines out to the world, was to get them in front of Parker. By June 2006, the pair were on a plane to Baltimore for Parker to taste the first vintage of Mollydooker. Little did he know, the future of the brand was resting on this tasting. During their meeting, Bob mentioned that he had just finished writing his ‘Best Value Wines of the World Under $20’.

2006 – Photo taken on the day of the Baltimore tasting

A month later, the Marquises received a call at 3am from a friend. “Have you seen the report!? Have you seen it!?” They didn’t know what he was talking about.

Parker’s ‘Best Valued Wines Under $20 in the World’ had just been released, and he had rewritten his report to include Mollydooker. All four of the wines they had tasted were included; The Boxer (#1), Two Left Feet (#2),The Maître D’ (#4) and The Violinist (#2), all of which Mollydooker still produce today.

After the release of this article, the first vintage of Mollydooker sold out in 17 days. Sarah and Sparky could repay their debts and go on to purchase their own vineyards and winery site the following year. Soon after the launch of Mollydooker, Parker retired from rating Australian wines, so he never officially scored Mollydooker again. However, the impact from those first 2005 scores, supported by the subsequent Wine Advocate scores, were instrumental to the brands success.

In 2017, Sarah became the sole owner of Mollydooker and a new chapter began. The business continued to grow with a team that now includes her children, Luke and Holly. A couple of years later, in late 2019, Sarah wrote to Parker to ask him about the possibility of naming our new tasting room after him, to which he replied…

“Hi Sarah…..that is quite a honor and I would love it! I still frequently taste your wines. Let me know the next time you are in my hood…would love to see you. And many thanks for such an honour! All the best, Bob”

Fast-forward to 2024, Sarah, Luke and Holly ventured to the USA to spend time with Mollydookers US team. Sarah reached out to see if Parker was available for a reunion after all these years. Much to her delight, he accepted her invitation.

2024 – The Marquis Family meet the Parkers


They shared wines, talked business, and took pearls of wisdom from Parker’s incredible career in the wine industry. Sarah also shared the story and impact that his work had on her life and the success of Mollydooker. To their surprise, Parker had been completely oblivious to the impact he had on Mollydooker.

An evening that will be forever remembered by the Marquis family, was topped off with the following message the next day…

“The fact that I played a role at the critical stage in the success of Mollydooker is enormously gratifying. Wishing you continued success… much admiration and affection, Bob”