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Parker points to historic vintage

It is the moment the Bordelais have been waiting for. Robert Parker has released his long awaited points for the 2009 vintage, and they’re high.

In total 21 wines fell into the magical 100 points bracket, including Château Margaux, Cos d’Estournel and Lafite.

He declared that Margaux would have the potential to be drunk until 2110, saying it had, “a sumptuous personality, and an unctuous texture. I have never tasted a Château Margaux quite like this.”

Compared to 2008, many houses improved their scores and tended to match them with 2005. If the average scores are taken into account for those 21 wines then 2009 comes out in front on a 96.7 point average. Only 2000 comes close on 96.2 and 2003, 2005 and 2008 languish on 94.1, 95 and 94.7 respectively.

Furthermore, once 2012 comes around and 2009 is reassessed these initial scores could rise even further.

In his overview Parker stuck very much to the general consensus among the trade that 2009 was great in places though less consistent than 2005, Cabernet driven, particularly successful for the Left Bank and less overwhelming on the right.

He said: “In broad, rather simplistic terms, 2009 is at its greatest in the Médoc and Graves, where it can often eclipse 2005 and 2000. The peaks of quality in 2009 may turn out to be historic.”

He did, however, dismiss reports that alcohol levels were too high across the board calling such misgivings “absurd” before saying that alcohol levels were certainly higher than 2005 and 2003 being on average 13.3% to 13.8% and occasionally up and over 14%.

He said that the vintage displayed “many of the characteristics of such creamy-textured, opulent, fat, succulent years as 1959, 1982, 1990, and some of the northern Médocs of 2003.

“Yet, the 2009s also have the structure, freshness, acid levels as well as vibrancy and precision of such cooler years as 1986, 1996, and 2000. In that sense, this is the glory of the 2009s. For as big and rich as well as high in alcohol as they are, they are also remarkably delicate, fresh, and pure.”

Parker went on to say that several châteaux had produced the best wines he had ever tasted in 32 years.

He predicted that Asia would get involved in en primeur buying, despite fears that they were not yet ready for the concept, citing how the US market was a novice to the idea 30 years ago before an explosion in popularity.

“The old song and dance that the Asians don’t pre-pay for wines, preferring to buy in bottle, is no longer true,” he said.

“Americans rarely bought “wine futures” thirty years ago, but that all changed with the 1982s, and it will change for the Asians with the 2009s. They are going to buy these wines. The only questions are: How much Bordeaux they will buy beyond the most prestigious first growths and super seconds?”

He even suggested that those looking to buy 2009 en primeur purely for pleasure would be advised to stay away from the first growths due to the high prices that would be attached to them.

“The great values many of us had hoped to see in 2009 are not likely to materialise, except for the less prestigious appellations and wines. Thankfully, there are many splendid examples of those in 2009. Forget the first-growths. They have become luxury products, and possess the same prestigious image as Rolls Royce, Bentley, or Aston Martin cars, Roger Dubuis or Berguet watches, or haute couture from Chanel or Christian Dior,” he said.

Strange advice from the man who once drove such speculation and whose word is still the kiss of life or death on a vintage.

Rupert Millar, 29.04.2010

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