Only Ausone gets 100 point potential from Parker

29th April, 2012 by Rupert Millar

Critic Robert Parker has awarded only one potential 100 pointer in his provisional scores for the 2011 vintage.

Ausone was awarded 96-100 points, while Lafite was awarded only 90-93 in the estate’s worst performance since its 88 points in 1993.

The scores were described on Twitter as “incredible” and “making a lot of sense”.

Lafite’s poor scores echo Liv-ex’s merchant round-up which pointed to the estate as the “disappointment of the vintage”.

Parker described the vintage as “much better than I first thought and could turn out to be close in overall quality to 2001 and 2008”.

However, having been criticised for scoring 2008 higher than it might have deserved, Parker has clearly been careful to be stricter with his scoring this year.

On the Left Bank, Margaux led the way with a score of 94-96, followed by Mouton-Rothschild on 93-96.

Other good performers included Latour, Pontet Canet, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Léoville Las Cases and La Mission Haut-Brion all on 93-95 (+).

Haut-Brion scored 92-95 and the majority of the super seconds, flying thirds and Lafite, fell into line by scoring solid but hardly spectacular ratings between 90 and 94 points.

The Right Bank did not do much better. Ausone has possibly triumphed this year as its score almost matches its 98-100 points for 2010 and its release price and reaction to it will be worth seeing.

Meanwhile, Cheval Blanc, Le Pin and Vieux Château Certan scored 94-96 each, l’Eglise-Clinet and Angélus scored 92-95 and Pétrus fared as badly as Lafite with its 90-93 score.

Some of the best scores, arguably, went to Sauternes where Yquem led the field with 96-98,  followed by Climens and Doisy-Daëne with 95-97, Coutet with 94-96, Suduiraut on 93-95 and Rieussec on 91-93.

These scores are in quite clear contrast to 2010 where, although high scoring was hardly profligate, four of the first growths (not Margaux), Pontet Canet, La Mission Haut Brion, Ausone, Pétrus and Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse all gained a potential 100 points and scoring was much higher all round.

This week is likely to be busy for releases and it will be interesting to see if the scores will prompt the Bordelais to lower their prices further than has been the case so far.

Parker’s scores clearly show the difference between the two vintages in quality and hopefully will show the Bordelais that to price 2011 as if it were 2010 or even 2009 is utter folly.

Parker even said in his report, “if prices don’t drop, I don’t think there’s a market in the civilised world that will buy these wines”.

As if to prove his point, Cos d’Estournel released high and failed spectacularly to take off and its chances are unlikely to be much improved with a score of 90-92 (its 2008 has a 92+ score), meanwhile Cantemerle which released at its 2010 price and has received an 88-90 score (its 2008 is cheaper and has a score of 88) is probably sailing quite close to the wind as well.

Sauternes by all accounts has judged its pricing quite well and those that have already released will be bolstered by positive scores.

What happens now to Lafite, which was apparently trading quite well after its release, is anyone’s guess.

It may attract more buyers sensing a bargain or be dropped by investors like a hot rock. How Latour reacts to its score and if it in any way hastens its retreat from the en primeur game will also be interesting to see.

Either way it should be a very interesting en primeur week from here on in.

One Response to “Only Ausone gets 100 point potential from Parker”

  1. Steve Webb says:

    Price is the biggest but not the only issue with the red wines of 2011. Many have tannins from the small Cabernet Sauvignon grapes (early season drought and late season sun) that are out of balance with the fruit (lack of Summer sun). It makes sense to wait until these are in bottle before taking any purchase risks.

    Sauternes is a different story and the conditions that were so poor for the reds played into the hands of the sweet wines in 2011. Yields are low but the botrytis was intense and sudden upon grapes that held good fresh fruit flavours and low acidity – these wines are modern in style and really make you sit up and take notice of them. Pricing is good too for these wines so risk is low.

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