I recently posted about blind tasting Bordeaux 2005 with Robert Parker. Last week, via the “inaugural edition” of his monthly e-newsletter, he produced his own summation of the public tasting, which included new, “official” scores for all the wines tasted. At the event, he had not scored any of the wines. But when a member of the audience asked him, “Bob, what were your three votes,” he stated:
“I went back and I was a big fan of 9 and 8 and 3. And then I think 13 and 14 are right up there…I can’t forget eight and nine. I had six wines that blew me away tonight: 1, 3, 8, 9, 13, and 14.”
To recap from the other post, those wines were Le Gay (9), L’Eglise Clinet (8), and Pape Clement (3) as his top three wines of the night, followed closely by Lafite (13), Troplong-Mondot (14), and Pavie (1). I’ve uploaded my own audio recording of the event to the right.
Yet in the e-newsletter, there were some surprises among the ratings. Le Gay, one of his top three wines of the night, received a score of 99 points, certainly outstanding but, oddly, only fourth that evening. L’Eglise Clinet received “99+ points.” But two wines scored 100. One was Troplong-Mondot. And the second was La Mission Haut Brion, which was not among the six wines that “blew him away” that evening.
What makes a wine worth 100 points? A couple of years ago, Parker told a Florida newspaper the key to difference separating a 100-point wine from a 99- or a 98-point wine. He said, “I really think probably the only difference…is really the emotion of the moment.”
Obviously, anyone could and perhaps should be influenced by emotions during a tasting of excellent wines. But doesn’t it undermine the pretense of (psuedo-)objectivity that scores represent? Isn’t scoring wines meant to “call it like you see it” and dispense with extraneous information such as labels and context?
How can a professional taster explain such a change in rankings from a public event to subsequent write-up? In the case of 05 La Mission, the wine clearly did not send a chill up Parker’s spine that evening since it was not in his top six. In a thread that emerged on his site about the discrepancies, Parker concluded one of his comments with a plea to “KEEP IT REAL.” Indeed.
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The wines as scored in the “Inaugural Edition of the eRobertParker.com Monthly Newsletter” (note: there are some minor errors in the popular vote totals as Parker reports them, e.g. Montrose got two points, not 30; Ducru got 30, not 57 etc.)
1. Château Pavie: Rated 98+ from the bottle, and 98-100 in this tasting. I found it to be massive and incredibly impressive. It received a total of 51 points.
2. Haut-Brion: Rated 98 from the bottle, and 85? in this tasting. It received a total of 6 points.
3. Pape-Clément: Rated 98 from the bottle, and also 98 in this tasting. It received a total of 56 points.
4. Montrose: Rated 95 from the bottle, and 96+ in this tasting. It received a total of 30 points.
5. Ducru-Beaucaillou: Rated 97 from the bottle, and 98 in this tasting. It received 57 points (a very strong showing).
6. Angèlus: Rated 98 from the bottle, and also 98 in this tasting. It received 57 points.
7. La Mission Haut-Brion: Rated 97 from the bottle, and 100 in this tasting. It received 43 points.
8. L’Eglise-Clinet: Rated 100 from the bottle, and 99+ in this tasting. It received 38 points.
9. Le Gay: Rated 95 from the bottle, and 99 in this tasting. It received 53 points.
10. Latour: Rated 96+ from the bottle, and 98+ in this tasting. It received 86 points, and won the tasting.
11. Larcis Ducasse: Rated 98 from the bottle, and 97+ in this tasting. It received 28 points. It seemed more backward than I remember it from several years ago.
12. Château Margaux: Rated 98+ from the bottle, and 98 in this tasting. It received 40 points.
13. Lafite Rothschild: Rated 96+ from the bottle, and 97+ in this tasting. It received 28 points.
14. Troplong Mondot: Rated 99 from the bottle, and 100 in this tasting. It received 54 points.
15. Cos d’Estournel: Rated 98 from the bottle, and 94+ in this tasting. It received 31 points.