2005 Bordeaux Vintage review by Robert Parker

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By Will Gardener

Robert Parker may not be overseeing the assessment of Bordeaux Primeurs these days but his influence over the Bordeaux marketplace seems relatively undiminished. I am not surprised that the fresh look at this great vintage caused a stir, but I am surprised at the way in which its findings were leaked pre-release of the internet publication of yesterday evening. News of the new wine ratings began to emerge yesterday morning. By midday we were receiving calls from Bordeaux negotiants asking us if we were trading any of the newly upgraded wines. At first I was unconvinced, this must be a hoax! I have never experienced more than a whiff of foul play of this type before. But sure enough we were soon inundated with convincing snippets of scores with offers appended from the great and the good of Bordeaux merchants.

The prices of the inevitable movers have spiked convincingly. Cheval Blanc(95), Angelus(98) and La Mission Haut Brion(98+) all now upgraded to 100 points are at least 25% up in price.

Mr Parker’s overall impression reiterates his early convictions that 2005 was a potentially great vintage but with an element of caution, and indeed there are instances where he is less convinced with the style of these wines than other recognised auditors such as his protege Neal Martin. For instance there is no doubt St Julien did not receive its usual star rating and is this slightly underwhelming retrospective can be broadened in general to the Medoc, especially when compared to the achievements in the Pessac Leognan, Pomerol and St Emilion. This is also a recurring theme. There can be no doubt about the emergence in recent years of the great Graves Estates. Haut Brion is the only property to receive 100 points in each of the last three great vintages, 2005, 2009 & 2010. La Mission Haut Brion is not far behind and would have matched its big brother but for failing miserably in 2010 with a meagre 98+. But the real story here is beyond the venerable First Growth. Smith Haut Lafitte, Pape Clement, Domaine de Chevalier and Haut Bailly amongst others are now all recognised in the top echellons of the Bordeaux hierarchy.

The incredible rise of St Emilion and Pomerol is already well documented. This review has awarded these Right Bank stars no less than ten of the twelve perfect scores, eight of which are upgrades.

This all comes as a bit of a surprise. When I think back I didn’t consciously lean one way or the other during the primeur tastings, there were highlights from all communes. Certainly I recognised the brilliance in Ausone, less so in Cheval. Larcisse Ducasse and Troplong Mondot convinced me, having bought a couple of cases for my own cellar. Equally La Mission and Haut Brion, Margaux and Latour. I didn’t recognise a shortfall in the Medoc particularly in St Julien where Ducru Beaucaillou was one of my favourite wines.

In this detailed appraisal Parker’s other sureties are that 2009 and 2010 are both superior and more complete vintages than 2005; particularly 2009. He also reiterates his view that Bordeaux is perhaps duly the victim of some media bashing, due to the obscene greed witnessed in recent years. But, this does not change the undeniable fact that the region is continuing to produce the world’s finest wines. The greed will only accentuate this if a good percentage of the profit is re-invested in the properties which I believe to be the case. See my blog on Chateau Margaux’s investment.

The great thing about wine is that nobody is correct, they are all just opinions, and they change regularly – just like the wines! We are blessed to have three of the finest vintages ever in one decade. It’s going to be fun assessing Parker’s assessment…



Nickolls & Perks2005 Bordeaux Vintage review by Robert Parker

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