Is Parker wrong about the 05 Médocs?

2nd July, 2015 by Rupert Millar

With no Médoc wines gaining 100-points in Robert Parker’s retrospective of the 2005 vintage, one firm has asked: “Has the time come to just ignore Parker’s view of the 05s?”

chateau-margaux

A 100-pointer? If you want it to be.

Of the 12 “perfect” wines given 100-points in Parker’s recent retrospective, 10 were from the Right Bank with only Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion representing the Left Bank – but not the Médoc.

Wine Asset Managers has considered the new scores on its blog and argued that the new scores do provide a “serious upgrade” for the vintage but: “The bewilderment for the trade has come from his continued belief that the wines from the Medoc in 2005 are not in any way special.”

It described the scores for Lafite, Mouton and Latour as “fairly ordinary” when other critics such as Neal Martin and Jancis Robinson MW have been more generous.

The score for Mouton is particularly strange as it was rated 99+ last December. WAM said: “He appears to have got cold feet about his new stance and this kind of inconsistency raises questions. Margaux, for many the best wine in the vintage, remained stuck on 98+.”

It also questioned giving wines such as Larcis-Ducasse 100-points when Martin only scored it 87, calling it “extracted” and that it reminded him “more of the Napa then St Emilion.”

WAM concluded: “He remains to us the ‘Great Nose of Maryland’ and we admire his more bedraggled new look, but we also think it likely he is wrong about the 2005 Médocs.”

David Roberts MW at Goedhuis is similarly disappointed by the results. Although he professes himself a fan of Parker he added: “I would have loved to see such exquisite wines as Margaux, Lafite, the likes of three Léovilles, Ducru, [and] Pichon Baron just to name a few in the Médoc, nudging towards perfection.”

However, he concluded, “that I suppose is my taste as opposed to his,” and that, “it only serves to show that reviews are hugely personal.”

Will Hargrove, head of fine wine at Corney & Barrow, told the drinks business that there were “wonderful” wines from the Left Bank as well as “harmony all round”.

Nonetheless, “there’s quite a big difference between the Left and Right – which is what you want in some ways,” he said.

Although he conceded that the results – particularly from a UK-centric point of view – were perhaps a little disappointing or confusing he didn’t think Parker was being “untrue” to his palate.

“It’s the same as him loving the ‘09s,” he continued, “it makes sense that in 05 he’s leant to the Right Bank.”

In doing so, he continued, the aim was unlikely to have been to rubbish the wines of the Left Bank and it should be remembered that Parker has made no secret of the fact that he gives wines he likes higher scores.

He himself said – a point picked up on in Fine & Rare director Joss Fowler’s blog on the subject – “there can never be any substitute for your own palate nor any better education than tasting the wine yourself.”

Parker may be wrong to not have given more Left Bank wines a place at the top table but one doesn’t have to take Parker at his every word one might, as Fowler suggested, “simply follow another critic?”  Or, quite outrageously, “listen to your wine merchant?”

This is not the first time the UK trade has taken umbrage with a Parker review (2009 Cos d’Estournel a case in point) but despite his former and not yet completely dissipated sway, Parker remains just one man whose advice one can choose to follow or not.

As Fowler noted a 100-point score can change the value but it cannot – ever: “change the contents of a bottle.”

The 2005s are excellent across the region and just because the prized Left Bank cru classé in one’s cellar hasn’t been given a “perfect” score, don’t worry, listen to Bobby McFerrin (and raise your eyebrows at the late Robin Williams’ bizarre antics in this video).

3 Responses to “Is Parker wrong about the 05 Médocs?”

  1. Cyrene says:

    I simply don’t get it. Why do those méchants seem to be unhappy with the scores of some high-end Medoc (all scored 96 points and above, not really a poor rating. Come on!). Were they hoping triple digits scores to fuel speculation and increase their potential profit on bonded stocks? They’re unhappy with the price when the wines are realeased, and they’re unhappy when the ratings do not allow them to make a further profit. Sounds to me like a fool’s game.

  2. Bibi says:

    Oups, outrageous, he did NOT give 100 points? No way…
    Sincerely, he is independant and he is free to give any note he consideres justified. If no wine is worth 100 points to his palate, why should he give them?
    He is a critic, not a merchant.
    And 2005 was not an outstanding vintage. As Cyrène said above, 96+ is already a fairly great note and should not be underestimated.
    100 should only be given to those which are so exceptionnal that they are almost unrankable. And seriously, this does not happen every year.

  3. James Roberts says:

    i don’t understand why these wine merchants are so upset about the scores? surely this is the best thing possible for them and their clients. think about it.

    the merchants quoted in this article love the medoc 2005’s, think they are superior to the right bank wines parker gave 100 points and so have advised their clients to buy these wines as they are in their opinion the best of the vintage.

    by not getting 100 points from Parker or even being upgraded, the wines have saved themselves the ignominy of being speculated on and having their price over-inflated. therefore the great wines that they love and have recommended to their clients from the medoc from the 2005 vintage won’t go up in price and will therefore be cheaper to drink and enjoy now and in the long-term? Win / Win ?

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