Parker awards 12 new 100 pointers: prices increase and the 2005 vintage rated outstanding

After months of anticipation, Robert Parker’s latest scores for the Bordeaux 2005 vintage have been released. There was a bit of unexpected drama with the timing of their release. Though they were due to be published on Tuesday evening, it emerged that paper copies of the report were mailed early by mistake, forcing the early publication late on Monday evening. Regardless, now the cat is out the bag, what were the results of this major retrospective tasting?

As we were expecting, Parker has given the vintage a significant upgrade, awarding a total of 12 wines a perfect 100 points, up from a previous total of just 2. This now means that the vintage has more ‘perfect’ wines than other vintage except 2009 which has 19. There are now 47 wines from 2005 rated ‘Outstanding’ (96 points or above), a sizeable increase from 36, though still falling short of the totals from both 2009 and 2010.

Accordingly, in his report Parker wrote that the 2005 vintage is ‘strong and impressive’, though he still believes that ‘it is eclipsed in quality and consistency by both the 2009s and 2010s, but only by a relatively minor margin’. Nevertheless Parker has confirmed the reputation of the vintage as one of the greats.

The big winners of the rescore were wines from the Right Bank, with 10 out of the 12 ‘perfect’ 100-point wines coming from this area: 8 from the St-.Emilion region and 2 from Pomerol. All of the St.-Emilion First Growths (Angelus, Pavie, Ausone and Cheval Blanc) were awarded a perfect score. In particular this was a major success for Angelus for whom this is their first 100-point score from Parker. Troplong Mondot, a highly-ranked St.-Emilion wine and one of our favourite estates, also earned their first 100-point score.

The two remaining 100-pointers came from the Left Bank region of Pessac-Léognan. La Mission Haut-Brion, a hotly-tipped wine before the rescore, fulfilled expectations to get a perfect score, as did Haut-Brion, the only wine in the 1855 classification to which Parker awarded 100 points.

Indeed, Parker somewhat controversially has remained quite cool in his assessment of the wines of the Médoc, saying that for him they ‘lack the “wow” factor’. Many of the wines were rated outstanding, but very few upgrades occurred, despite the same wines being given a rapturous endorsement from other critics and merchants. Of the Médoc First Growths, Château Margaux maintained its score of 98+ and Latour saw a 2-point increase to 98 points. Surprisingly, Mouton Rothschild, which made news and jumped in price when Parker scored it 99+, was moved back to 97 points. Lafite Rothschild also received a lower score of 95 points.

This assessment of the 2005 Médocs will probably confirm in the minds of many that Parker has a preference for heavier, more extracted, sweeter-tasting wines – a palate that is not overly excited by these wines. Nevertheless, the confirmation of the quality of the vintage as a whole is still a great endorsement and vindicates our focus on positioning clients into 2005 wines as early as September last year.

This is further justified when we look at how the market has reacted to the rescores. Unlike when the 2009 vintage was rescored in bottle and some wines doubled in value overnight, reaction has been somewhat muted as many of the wines had already increased in value since December. There are some very notable exceptions, however:

Château Troplong Mondot

  • Since its upgrade to 100 points, Angelus 2005 has traded at as much as 39% higher than it did at the end of May.
  • In the same time frame, La Mission Haut Brion 2005 has traded at 30% higher.
  • The market price for Troplong Mondot 2005 has risen by 25% compared to mid-June.
  • Cheval Blanc 2005 traded at 21% higher than it had just 3 days previously.

For those wines that did not receive an upgrade, or were even downgraded, it is worth noting a quirk of the wine market: while wines that receive a higher score often see big increases in price, those that experience a downgrade in score do not experience a corresponding decrease in price. As we always recommend, wine is a long-term investment; holding wines of a high calibre from a great vintage – such as 2005 – over the longer term to allow rarity to kick in remains the best strategy.

While an upgrade may be a cue to sell, particularly if you hold multiple cases, we do not necessarily believe the opposite to be true.