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March 03, 2015

Parker 2005 Re-scores

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Last week marked the news that Robert Parker would be relinquishing Bordeaux en primeur, beginning with the 2014 vintage, this is significant and reflects a changing of the guard. Parker indicated that this would not be the end of this career, as he would still be re-tasting the 2012s from bottle, as well as giving his eagerly anticipated review of the magnificent 2005 vintage, one that he considers as ‘one of the most singular years of the past five decades’. To read more this click here.

Parker traditionally reviews wines from barrel, then two years later from bottle; the former results in an indicative score such as 95-98, a score he tries to focus from bottle. Following this he tastes the wines intermittently, until his comprehensive 10 year vintage review, which defines the wines for the rest of their lifecycle, providing an exact score. The 2005 vintage is the most exciting review since the 2000 vintage; as Neil Martin stated in his recent report, they ‘clearly deserve(s) their status as a benchmark vintage, a central pillar of the noughties between 2000 and 2009/2010.’ At the time growing conditions were pronounced perfect by the wine world, touted as one of the greatest vintages ever, drawing comparisons with 1945, 47, 49, 1959, 1982, and 1990. Jancis Robinson sings the same tune, ‘This is surely Bordeaux‘s best vintage of the century so far. The 2005s were always chock full of everything…’ The 2005s possessed at the time the highest level of tannin, highest dry extracts, highest concentration, and highest natural alcohol ever measured, yet they displayed an anomaly, lively fresh acidity and modest PH – the 2005s were genetically perfect!

Parker bestowed the ultimate praise on the 2005 vintage commenting that during his tasting trip ‘I had the same excitement/jubilation that I remember experiencing when I tasted the 1982s in March, 1983’, the very vintage that made his name. He goes on to say that while the 2005s were different in style on the left bank, the right bank, St Emilion and Pomerol, were very similar to the hallowed 1982 vintage, ‘where so many incredibly sumptuous, ripe, intense, heady wines were produced’. Parker concluded by saying ‘I have never tasted so many extraordinarily rich, concentrated, massive wines so high in tannin and extract, yet with such precision, definition, and freshness. It is clearly a singular vintage that should evolve into one of the great vintages of Bordeaux

In fact, the 2005 vintage was the first truly investment driven en primeur campaign, decreed, with 2000, as the vintage of the century, thereby capturing the attention of a new generation of collectors looking to speculate and build stunning collections. Prices then were considered high, however, despite this, buying on release paid off, with prices increasing year on year until 2011, which was the time to sell. Since then the 2005s have dropped in value, returning to their original release price.

It has been generally accepted that the 2005 vintage had closed down, going through an adolescent stage, common for a truly age-worthy vintage. However, in anticipation of Parker’s rescores the wines have been revisited by the world’s leading critics. Neil Martin remarked last month that he was asked, which the best vintage was from 2000 to 2011 and his answer was 2005, ‘I was not the only person that placed 2005 at the top, closely followed by 2009… with 2000 and 2010 tucked just behind. What the 2005s possess is that structure and breeding’. Once again Jancis agrees, ‘the most impressive thing about this vintage particularly when compared with other “vintage of the century”, 2009 and 2010, is how consistently exciting it is”.

There is little question therefore, that 2005 is a remarkable vintage, one for the ages. In fact while critics now agree the wines are approachable, they will enter their drinking windows over the next three to four years and then improve for decades; the leading wines have the ageing potential of the 1928s and 1945s, this alone makes them truly special. Another extremely compelling point is that since late 2011 the 2005 have returned to, or close to their 2006 release prices, having doubled in value in the interim. Buying now allows one to avoid the opportunity cost of buying and storing wines, instead buying them now once they are entering their drinking window.

The 2005s are trading at a large discount to the 2009s and 2010s and in many cases the 2000s. This makes the 2005s look like a strong buy opportunity prior to Parker’s rescores. Moreover, Parker revisiting the vintage presents a superb opportunity for price increases. For example, Parker participated in a vertical tasting of Mouton Rothschild in January, which led him to upgrade Mouton Rothschild 2005 from 96 to 99+, since then the price has risen over 20%. Parker has also recently tasted Montrose 2005, marking it up from 95 to 96 points and Haut Bailly up to 98 points from 95. We feel this is indicative of the vintage, one so powerful it has required 10 years to soften slightly and is therefore ready to achieve the high end of his initial scores.

Finally, Neil Martin, Parker’s heir apparent, has already given his rescores for many of these wines, marking several higher than Parker. This is a strong guide to what we can expect from Robert Parker. In conclusion, whether for cellaring and drinking over one’s lifetime, or speculating on in the short term, the 2005 rescores are the most exciting event in the market since the release of the 2009s and 2010s. Interest has been building since the New Year and we expect speculation to drive prices up even before the rescores!