The Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea was host to some of the world’s most exceptional wines on Saturday 28th February in an incredible tasting put on by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. The Matter of Taste event contained over 660 wines available for tasting (all of which had been awarded 90 points or above) while extra-special masterclass tastings took place on another floor.
The sheer quality of the wines presented as well as the breadth of the range surely made this one of the best-ever tastings for consumers that has been hosted in the UK. The grand surroundings, with walls laced with intriguing modern art, compounded the sense of occasion, but the true stars of the day were the wines.
Some of the most famous wines in the world were freely available to taste, often with the estate proprietors themselves pouring the samples. To name only a few, Melanie Tesseron was there presenting her 100-point Pontet-Canet 2009; multi-millionarie magnate Bernard Magrez had produced his superb Pape Clement and two Napa Valley icons were standing next to each other – Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards and Don Weaver of Harlan Estate, both serving their mind-blowing wines. The list could go on. Needless to say, Robert Parker has pulling power.
With the buzz in the fine wine market around Bordeaux 2005 in anticipation of Parker’s impending re-scoring of the vintage, we naturally made a bee-line for them. Our tasting of Pichon Baron and Gazin confirmed the style of the vintage: very high quality but with noticeable tannins that mean the wines are in it for the long-haul.
Interestingly, the event’s website billed Montrose 2005 as a wine that would be available to taste. Knowing it had received an upgrade to 96 points from Parker last August, we were licking our lips in anticipation. Yet there on the table was the 2012 vintage. This was surely recognition from the UK merchant serving the wines that they were better off holding on to their precious 2005s for the time being, waiting for the price to appreciate, while promoting the 2012 vintage (also due for a Parker re-score this year as the wines get bottled).
Our tasting highlights are too numerous to mention in full (and would simply make readers jealous), though Pontet-Canet 2000, Sassicaia 2006, Shafer Hillside Select 2002 and 2010 (both 100-points from Parker) all stick in the mind. We felt thoroughly spoiled.
A new era of Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has truly dawned. After selling a majority stake of the influential publication to Asian investors in 2012, and with the news that he will no longer taste Bordeaux en primeur, many have wondered what the future holds for the publication and indeed for Parker’s influence. The latter question is still up for debate. Yet if this event is anything to go by (and other such events are planned across the world), the future looks bright.