“The Greatest Vintage.”
That was the headline for the 2005 Bordeaux tasting this past Thursday at the CIA in St. Helena with Robert Parker. The event also marked 30 years for Parker as a professional wine critic, and I suppose because of this he was a little introspective.
It’s fairly well established that Parker’s influence is on the wane, and even he acknowledges it. Very early on – almost in passing – he said that “the days of one dominant wine critic are gone.”
Still though, Parker made his reputation in Bordeaux in 1982 for good reason, and the man still sets the market there. His once all-powerful influence might be diminishing in other regions, but there is no one alive that knows more about Bordeaux, or has more influence on the area and its wines, than Robert Parker.
Just like in the ’06 pinot tasting I attended, Parker was an open, honest and unpretentious tour guide. This time though, he walked a room full of wine industry luminaries (excluding me of course – I barely made it through the door with my Parker’s Bitch tee-shirt on. Guess they didn’t like the cut of my jib) through one of the best vintages ever for Bordeaux.
And since most of this wine is gone and ain’t coming back, it really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Parker started things off by qualifying his “greatest vintage” pronouncement. He acknowledged that some Chateau have had better recent vintages (2000 for instance) than their ’05 efforts, and admitted that he “still has a few reservations” about the vintage. He argued that what made the vintage great though was its consistency throughout, all the way down to the smaller less well known satellite appellations.
In all we tasted 18 reds and 2 whites. Here’s the list:
1. Ch. La Conseillante. Pomerol
2. Ch. Bon Pasteur, Pomerol
3. Ch. Trotanoy, Pomerol
4. Ch. l’Evangile, Pomerol
5. Ch. Cheval Blanc, Saint-Emilion
6. Ch. Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan
7. Ch. Pape Clement, Pessac-Leognan
8. Ch La Mission Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan
9. Ch. Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac
10. Ch. Latour, Pauillac
11. Ch. Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac
12. Ch. Margaux, Margaux
13. Ch. Ausone, Saint-Emilion
14. Ch. Pavie Macquin, Saint-Emilion
15. Ch. Angelus, Saint Emilion
16. Ch. Troplong Mondot, Saint-Emilion
17. Ch. Larcis Ducasse, Saint-Emilion
18. Ch. Pavie, Saint-Emilion
And the 2 whites were:
Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, Pessac-Leognan
Ch. Pape Clement Blanc, Pessac-Leognan
I was told that, assuming you could locate a seller, purchasing one of each of these bottles would run anywhere from $12-14,000. That turned out to be a little low. They auctioned off a lot of one of each at the end of the tasting and it fetched 15K. For charity, of course.
But try and wrap your head around this: The CIA poured 11 of each of the wines on the list above at the tasting. That’s $165,000 in wine that simply disappeared from the earth in one three hour period. Equal parts amazing and sickening.
One of the most surreal wine-related experiences of my life occurred on my way out of the tasting. Stretched out across the seating area was row after row of half filled tasting glasses. Tens of thousands of dollars of wounded wine soldiers, unrepentantly left behind to choke to death on oxygen, looked back at me as we filed out of tasting room.
I remember thinking: “That would be one hangover that would actually be worth having.” I sure hope the CIA staff had a good time cleaning up.
PART 2 TOMORROW
Edit: Here’s what Wine Rocks had to say about the tasting. He beat me to the punch with a couple of quotable quotes, so it’s certainly worth a read.