WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

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WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:10 am

Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Is the world ready for yet another "perfect" wine vintage? Apparently at least its most well-heeled consumers are. One month after the wine trade got its first taste of the 2005 vintage from Bordeaux, prices are going insane, report our friends at Wine-Searcher.com.

"The wine world is going crazy for bottles of Chateau Petrus 2005," Wine-Searcher.com spokesman Jim Brough told me in an E-mail note this morning. The Wine-Searcher vendor databases currently show Petrus, which consistently ranks among the world's priciest wines, selling for $30,000 a case, $2,500 a bottle, which works out to about $80 for a discreet sip.

The 2005's are only available "en primeur" at this point; they're aging in barrels at the wineries, not yet bottled, and won't be available for another two years. Consumers who lay down big bucks for Petrus today won't take delivery until 2008.

Meanwhile, though, there's no dearth of publicity about the wines. There's little disagreement that the vintage was top-tier, and that prices - driven by scarcity, and by rave reviews from the usual suspects - will be unprecedented.

"With the 2005 vintage being viewed as an all-time great, prices are almost certain to be mouth-wateringly high," Financial Times writer Adam Jones reported from Paris. And that's just the price that exporters pay at the source. "Prices paid by consumers," he went on, "will be even more stratospheric."

The critical voices, however, aren't quite singing in chorus about yet another round of what appear to be ripe, intense and extracted wines from a region traditionally valued for elegance and finesse. The American writers Robert M. Parker Jr. (<I>Wine Advocate</I>) and James Suckling (<I>Wine Spectator</I>) were predictably smitten. Parker, according to Wine-Searcher's Brough, described the 2005 Petrus as "A dense purple color ... followed by a promising nose of sweet black and red fruits interwoven with <i>pain grillé</i>, mineral, licorice, and mocha-like characteristics." Suckling's <i>Spectator</i> report called it "Astounding. This is wonderfully concentrated with fabulous fruit, chocolate and berry character. Full-bodied, with chewy tannins and a long, long finish. My head is spinning."

British writer Neal Martin (<I>Wine-Journal.com</i>) showed a bit more reserve, however, writing, "The nose is very muted and takes some coaxing before aromas of blackberry, woodland and a little espresso emerge. Superb definition. The palate is more masculine than I expected with some unresolved tannins that will surely meld together with barrel ageing. Stunning focus ... Broody on the finish. A Petrus virgin might wonder what all the fuss is about, but I think there are the components here to make a magnificent wine. But it will need patience."

The always reliable Jancis Robinson listed Petrus in the second tier of 2005s ("Almost as great," trailing a short list of stars rated "Greatest wines"). Robinson cautioned against judging all of 2005 Bordeaux on the basis of the top performers. "[T]he top properties ... can afford to tend and thin every vine individually in order to ripen even the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon fully and opulently. But the layers of cash-strapped producers beneath this level, particularly those making Médoc and basic Bordeaux, cannot afford such luxury and too often were forced into harvesting sometimes under-ripe Cabernet ... While the heat of 2003 helped to ripen Cabernet in even the less glamorous areas of the left bank, many producers really struggled in the dry but much cooler 2005 vintage."

Of 2005 prices, Robinson frankly added, "There will be a very nasty scrap for allocations of the top wines to merchants and the potentially even nastier business of allocating them to the most faithful, or perhaps most affluent, customers. There will also be no shortage of retailers claiming that all 2005s are simply stunning and that all you need to do is buy into their cellar plan."

Not London's respected Berry Bros. & Rudd, which bluntly challenged some of Parker's ratings:

" ... news of Robert Parker's scores of the 2005 vintage spread like wildfire across the world sending Bordeaux into a mixture of joy, confusion and, in some cases, outrage - Berrys' Fine Wine Director, Simon Staples, says he is bewildered at some of his preferences."

Said Staples, "While we largely agree with Parker's assessment of 2005, we are slightly bewildered that he has given very high ratings to many wines, most of them on the Right Bank, which we found over-extracted, over-oaked and totally un-Bordeaux in style. Some of his scores for these wines are at the same level, or in some cases way above, some of the marks for those which we consider to be the truly great classics of this vintage. We are concerned that the wine lover who buys solely on Parker's points is going to be desperately disappointed if they are expecting traditional Bordeaux."

Realistically, few of us are going to be buying, or even tasting, 2005 Petrus; prices will likely drive all but the most affluent (or crazed) wine collectors out of the market for this and other top-rank Bordeaux. But I thought you'd enjoy this quick look at the way the high end of the wine market operates ... and a cautionary concern about vintage hype trickling down. I'm not saying that everything you'll read about 2005s from around the world will be hype, but "buyer beware" is almost always good advice.

<B>WEB LINK:</B> To view Wine-Searcher.com listings for 2005 Chateau Petrus, click
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Petrus%2bnot%2bFleur/2005/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Frank LaClair » Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:07 pm

I for one cannot afford to purchase first growth Bordeaux no matter what my desire is. The problem with me is I am not able to keep up with the myriad of labels available. Of course you can walk into any wine shop and see the usual suspects, but I love trying something off the beaten path. You can read Spectator till you're blind and you might find one in a hundred of the wines they rate. So how do you find reasonably priced, quality Bordeaux? If you had to rely on the advice of a critic, who would that be?
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:37 pm

Despite being under the weather right now, I am in a sort of humour mood with Robins posting I would love to see the Berry Bros comments posted on eBob and see the reaction. Wheres Otto?
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:59 pm

Frank LaClair wrote:If you had to rely on the advice of a critic, who would that be?


Frank, probably no critic but this group, or some affinity group of wine enthusiasts with which you find common tastes. I'd certainly consider reading Jancis, though - or even Mr. Neal, also referenced in the column, who runs a British Website. I find the British tastes in Bordeaux are closer to mine (and, I think, to a lot of other US wine enthusiasts) than the Californicated style that Parker and the Speck seem to prefer and that has wrongly come to be defined as "American tastes."

I do sometimes wonder if Parker's palate is simply aging to the point that he needs to be whacked harder and harder in the mouth to get his attention. But this wouldn't fully explain why the Speck committee reports similar preferences, unless they're simply following his lead.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Robin Garr » Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:01 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Despite being under the weather right now, I am in a sort of humour mood with Robins posting I would love to see the Berry Bros comments posted on eBob and see the reaction. Wheres Otto?


Bob, that's funny ... you'd bring the Human Shields up at warp speed. ;-)

Hope you get to feeling better soon, buddy!
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:56 pm

It has been suggested in certain quarters (not here) that there are hardly any good writers in the UK. You have just mentioned Neil and Jancis and good on you. HRH gets a lot of flack from certain people this side of the pond and in a way I can see why. "Hello, the European palate is a lot different".
I would also mention Andrew Jefford, Jamie Goode and they are not continually plugging supermarket wines!!
Then there is Mr. M Broadbent...did you know they have taken away the picture of him on his bike (Decanter). Maybe a tad stuffy but thats the British toff in him!! Read some of his tasting notes on early Bordeaux and Port.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby KarlLung » Thu Jul 20, 2006 12:59 am

My opinion on the 2005 Bordeaux is that don't buy unless you are aged between 30 and 40.

If you are less than 30, unlikely you can afford the wine. :roll:

If you are over 40, and assume all those great comments are correct (otherwise you simply over paid), the wine won't be at its peak until you are 60+. Good chance that your health may not survive that long! :(

I would rather buy some 1996 Bordeaux, which is also an excellent year but selling at a fraction of the 2005. More importantly, many of them will be at their peak in just about 10 years. Saying it in another way, within the next 10, or even 15 years, the 1996 will taste better than the 2005. :D
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby TimMc » Thu Jul 20, 2006 1:04 am

At the risk of seeming indiscrete...Trader Joe's has, for years, offered very reasonably priced Bordeauxs from France. They may not be Gran Cru's necessarily, but some very excellent wines to be had....and for a song.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jul 20, 2006 8:46 am

karllung wrote:I would rather buy some 1996 Bordeaux, which is also an excellent year but selling at a fraction of the 2005. More importantly, many of them will be at their peak in just about 10 years. Saying it in another way, within the next 10, or even 15 years, the 1996 will taste better than the 2005. :D


Good advice, Karl, and a warm welcome to our forum! Glad you found your way here.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jul 20, 2006 8:49 am

TimMc wrote:At the risk of seeming indiscrete...Trader Joe's has, for years, offered very reasonably priced Bordeauxs from France. They may not be Gran Cru's necessarily, but some very excellent wines to be had....and for a song.


Tim, you're not wrong ... at least, you're no more wrong than were any of the blind gentleman who tried to figure out the elephant in the old folk tale. Based on my budget constraints, I'm far more likely to buy a <I>Cru Bourgeois</i> or a less "respected" satellite appellation wine than a classed growth, based on money constraints alone.

As a practical matter, though, most of these vintage discussions turn on the tiny tip-of-the-iceberg niche of top-tier Bordeaux, and with all respect, this is really a completely separate category that's related in little but regional name.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Sam Platt » Thu Jul 20, 2006 9:56 am

Robin Garr wrote:The Wine-Searcher vendor databases currently show Petrus, which consistently ranks among the world's priciest wines, selling for $30,000 a case, $2,500 a bottle, which works out to about $80 for a discreet sip.


If I had enough money that $2500 was essentially meaningless to me (I don't have) I still cannot picture myself shelling out that kind of money for a single bottle of Petrus. It would gall me to know that I could have bought 30 bottles of another "high end" wine that I dearly love for the same coin. There are some things that I will just never understand.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jul 20, 2006 10:13 am

Sam Platt wrote:If I had enough money that $2500 was essentially meaningless to me (I don't have) I still cannot picture myself shelling out that kind of money for a single bottle of Petrus. It would gall me to know that I could have bought 30 bottles of another "high end" wine that I dearly love for the same coin. There are some things that I will just never understand.


Me either, Sam! Well ... I'll say this. If I could drum up 24 other wine geeks who'd cough up $100 each to go in on a bottle, and we shared one-ounce tastes as the highlight of a fine dinner with lots of other excellent but more sensible wines, I'd pay that for the experience, and I expect quite a few of us would. But the logistics would be tough, and what if the bottle was c- c- corked?
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Isaac » Thu Jul 20, 2006 10:37 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:Despite being under the weather right now, I am in a sort of humour mood with Robins posting I would love to see the Berry Bros comments posted on eBob and see the reaction. Wheres Otto?
I looked on http://www.bbr.com and couldn't find the Berry Bros comments on their own website.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jul 20, 2006 10:43 am

Isaac wrote:I looked on http://www.bbr.com and couldn't find the Berry Bros comments on their own website.


Here's the link, Isaac. They probably don't have a link to it from their home page - it's a blog-style entry - but it comes right up on a Google search for "Bordeaux vintage 2005."
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Sam Platt » Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:39 am

Robin Garr wrote:If I could drum up 24 other wine geeks who'd cough up $100 each to go in on a bottle, and we shared one-ounce tastes as the highlight of a fine dinner with lots of other excellent but more sensible wines, I'd pay that for the experience...


I'm in! I'll even contribute an '05 "Dr. L" for the occasion. :wink:
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby Isaac » Thu Jul 20, 2006 1:05 pm

Thanks, Robin.
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Re: WineAdvisor: Bordeaux 2005 - Here we go again!

Postby jecastillo » Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:09 am

I remember I was a wine distributor when the famed 2000 Bordeaux vintage was released. There was so much hoopla, that I pre-sold more of that wine (we had a few 2nd and 3rd growths in our portfolio) than anything else, ever. As soon as it got on the wine lists, it sold almost immediately, and when the restaurants came back for more, there was none left. This happens every time a popular vintage is released (e.g. '97 Brunello, '01 German Riesling).

I never understood this phenomenon- clearly these wines would benefit from years of cellaring, but everyone's hurry to taste a "vintage of the century" wine essentially bleeds the region dry of said wine, and no one gets to taste it at its maturity. Seems like a waste to me, although I understand that that most restaurants don't have the resources to sit on cases of wine for 15 or 20 years.

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