Robert Parker, the ‘Godfather of Wine Critics’, retired from his public role tasting and rating wine over a year ago but he continues to influence the market. His legendary palate has identified and promoted some of the most outstanding wines in the world whose values have benefited from his ‘patronage’.
In 2011, when Parker tasted what proved to be the highest average scored, and therefore quality, Bordeaux 2009 vintage he broadened the focus from Bordeaux’s “super-brand” First Growths to a group of estates he dubbed “The Magical 20”. These fine wines, as described by Parker, were from “estates that produce wines of first growth quality, although not technically first growths”. He rated these wines at or near perfection, and observed that they were ‘under-valued and very smart acquisitions’.
Once again, Robert Parker had sniffed out winners. For those fine wine investors who had acted on his observations in 2011 would now be sat on an average 40% growth and top performers delivering over 100% such as Smith Haut Lafitte’s perfect 100-pointer seeing 171% and Clos Fourtet 2009 156% uplift.
For those few ‘Magical 20’ which have not performed so well in terms of price growth, such as the 100-point Cos d’Estournel, they have been affected by the success of their brand – suffering the tailwinds of the market dynamics that drove First Growth price decline over the period 2011 – 2014, when the bubble generated by the entry of Asian consumers into the market burst as investors sought value in wines from other regions. Parker identified those Bordeaux fine wines that offered similar quality to the iconic brands but at a much more affordable price and investors benefited.
Some of the ‘Magical 20’ Chateaux are now staple producers of investment wines and this year Bordeaux’s producers and merchants have taken the bold step to discount the high quality 2019 En Primeurs at price levels not seen since 2009. Indeed Liv-ex has gone so far as to observe that with Bordeaux 2019 – The Magic is back! We hope that Parker would agree!