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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

...but trade still kept waiting for prices of classed-growth Bordeaux

Robert Parker has given six wines the possibility of being awarded the magic 100-point score in his Bordeaux 2003 tasting notes, including the contentious St Emilion premier grand cru class Chteau Pavie. Four wines achieved the top rating of 98-100 (the highest possible score until he retastes the wines later in bottle) - Ausone, Lafite, Latour and Margaux, with Montrose and Pavie awarded the next highest score of 96-100. His ratings have attracted some criticism for being too favourable to Merlot-dominant Right Bank wines, which were generally seen as inferior to the Cabernet-dominant Left Bank wines. Simon Staples, sales director at Berry Brothers & Rudd, said he thought Parker had made a number of howlers' in his scores this year. I agree with the general UK merchants' view that a number of Right Bank wines like Pavie are overrated,' he said. He also feels some wines from the Left Bank have been underrated by Parker, such as Gruaud-Larose and Pichon Baron. Staples also expressed his dismay at the slow rate at which prices are being released, with the first growths not expected to declare until early June. They take so long to release prices that some of our customers inevitably lose interest,' he said, but added that sales of the lesser chteaux had so far been encouraging. Stephen Browett, a director of Farr Vintners, agreed that Parker had been a touch generous' to the Right Bank for his own taste, but said that Parker likes ripe, big wines and that's what the Right Bank delivered in 2003'. On the releasing of prices, Browett said he hoped the whole thing will be over by the end of May'. It's an old-fashioned system, but it seems to work for them - just wait for the big wines to come out. The day wines like Montrose release, we'll see things really move.' Browett said the most requested wine of the campaign so far is premier cru Sauternes Chteau Rieussec.