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Perplexed by Parker's points

Published:  18 January, 2007

The news of Robert Parker's scores for the 2005 vintage spread like wildfire across the world, sending Bordeaux into a mixture of joy, confusion and, in some cases, outrage - but I am perplexed by some of Parker's opinions.

While I largely agree with Parker's assessment of 2005, I am slightly confused that he has given very high ratings to many, most of them on the Right Bank, which we found over-extracted, over-oaked and totally un-Bordeaux in style.

Some of his scores for these wines are at the same level as, or in some cases way above, some of the marks for those which the Berry's team consider to be the truly great classics of this vintage.

We are concerned that the wine lover who buys solely on Parker's points is going to be desperately disappointed if they are expecting traditional Bordeaux.

Parker writes: Bordeaux has produced something very special in 2005', with pride of place going to the previously underperforming Margaux commune.

I have never tasted better Margauxs than the 2005s'. He also enthuses: In short, for Margaux, Graves, Pomerol and St-Emilion, this is a singular vintage of compelling greatness. Moreover, most of these wines will also possess 25-30 years of longevity.'

It's true that Parker's tasting notes do communicate the different character of the wines, but the reliance upon and the influence of his scores mean that this will not solve the problem of confusion.

Given the vastly divergent styles now available in Bordeaux, we don't feel that Parker is always comparing like with like, and our concern is that consumers will suffer as a result.

Perhaps it would be helpful if Parker differentiated his notes between traditional' and modern' wines.

Simon Staples

Fine Wine Director

Berry Bros & Rudd