2005 Bordeauxs

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2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Jenise » Fri Apr 14, 2006 5:40 pm

Interesting report from Garagiste today. I know, I know, they're selling wines, but that doesn't mean that there's any ulterior motive in particular in the following report, the email wasn't offering any of these wines. Interesting comments, too, on producers like Parker-favorite Pavie and a wine popular on this board, Leoville Barton.

*****************

The 2005 Bordeaux Report

The 2005 Bordeaux vintage will be the most sought after in history. More wine drinking nations and consumers have come on-line since 2000 and the vintage has already been hyped to a nearly absurd level. This fact alone coupled with an almost certain applause from influential US critics in a few weeks time will make many of the wines almost impossible to get, regardless of price. Is the hype justified? I will explore this topic in depth over the next several pages, hopefully to aid your search for the nectar that suits you.

One thing is very clear – 2004 is far better than originally thought and even though we have none to sell, I would advise those of you that are actually drinking these wines (and not purchasing for speculation – except for Chateau Margaux and a few other Margaux wines that will certainly increase in price post-Parker) to purchase as many 2004 wines as your wallet will allow. This vintage has immense appeal in the pocketbook as many wines are trading for a fraction of their 2003 and eventual 2005 counterparts. Like 2001, 2004 is a vintage that collectors will wish they had more of ten years down the road. Is there really that big of a difference between 2004 and 2005 Lafite to justify $300 in price? In a word, no. I think you will be able to wait for your favorite bottle scores to come out prior to purchasing the 2004 wines as demand will be very low – if you want a safe bet, stick with the Margaux appellation.

On to 2005...

Where to begin? This vintage is a perplexing one with a style that has really never been seen before. 2005 was a drought vintage that was uncommon in its cool nights and warm sunny days (I did not say “Hot sunny days” a major difference between this drought year and others like 2003), these are most accessible young Bordeaux ever produced but they still possess fantastic natural acidity, amazing freshness and gripping tannins that are ripe and in many cases polished. The wines differ from 1982 in their acidity levels (1982 was always very low in acidity) and probably have more in common with 1989 yet have more nervous verve and freshness. The wines of 2000 are somewhat more masculine as the 2005s have a polish and elegance despite their huge stature. While some may tell you this was an across the board success, I am not so sure. For me, the Left Bank was far more consistent (although not as one-sided as 1996) and while the Right Bank had a great vintage as well, there is room for caution. There are many top Right Bank wines that are quite troubling with natural alcohol levels in the 15.5-16% range (no, that was not a typo). All of the vintners I spoke with that had wines in this class told me the same thing – that alcohol would be evaporated through natural ageing or “other” in the hope that the resulting wines would be closer to 14%. As most of you know, 14% alcohol and Bordeaux rarely mix so stay tuned. There are examples of historic vintages with high alcohol levels (1929, 1947, 1959, etc) and all are considered to be some of the best modern vintages in history so stay tuned. While this may be true, winemaking was different then and I’m concerned about modern techniques and their resulting influence. In fact, we cannot be sure how these wines will age as there is no true predecessor - no matter what the critics tell you.

Is this a great vintage? I’m far more inclined to say “yes” over a vintage like 2003 and it will certainly be critically swooned over for its balance, depth and incredible freshness (on the Left Bank) and massive size, extract and weight on the Right Bank (a la 1947 or other Port vintages) but are the wines really worth so much more than their 2001, 2002 or 2004 counterparts? In the modern world of Bordeaux where the American public ignores vintages that are merely “very good” and runs to purchase anything at any price from a “great” vintage, it seems to be a moot point. In addition, I would look very strongly at older wines with proven track records at lesser prices than the 2005s will be on release. Does this mean I’m sitting this vintage out? Not on your life.

The Wines:

To give you a better snapshot of the vintage, I’ve decided to include the results of an informal poll I took during the week as well as my own favorite wines, etc. Instead of giving you one view from one palate, I asked many influential winemakers, negociants, importers, critics from around the globe and an auction house director or two. I compiled the results and they are quite interesting. I asked everyone for their Top Five wines in order regardless of price; Their Top Five Other Wines to Purchase taking everything into account (price/value, etc), their Most Overrated, their Sleeper of the Vintage and This Year’s 2003 Montrose. I also asked for comments, to be printed anonymously (if they were concerned about backlash) and most gave them to me.

I tasted all of the wines at least twice and in some cases five or more times from different samples. The results are as follows. Please do not reprint or post these notes and/or comments on any chat room or other – they are for Garagiste email list members only:

My Top Five Wines:

Latour
Calon-Segur
Trotanoy
Haut Brion
Leoville Las Cases

My Top Five Other Wines to Purchase

Ducru Beaucaillou
Angelus
La Conseillante
Leoville Poyferre
La Mission Haut Brion

My Most Overrated
Cheval Blanc
Leoville Barton (eek! This wine will almost certainly receive a score in the mid-upper 90’s so point chasers take note – if you actually want to drink this wine, buy Shiraz instead).

My Sleeper of the Vintage
Left Bank: Haut Bages Liberal (open your wallet here and don’t look back)
Right Bank: Nenin (Bonus: Magdelaine)

This Year’s 2003 Montrose:
Left Bank: Cos d’ Estournel (but Ducru Beaucaillou is very close), Palmer (1983/1989 again?)
Right Bank: Angelus, Clos Fourtet

Comments: I’m tempted to say Angelus is the wine of the vintage but I won’t.

Wine I was not as impressed with as the critics (although all should get mid-upper 90s scores but beware before plonking down $200 or more): L’Evangile, Troplong Mondot, Canon La Gaffeliere, Pavie Macquin, Cheval Blanc, Peby Faugeres, Quinalt L’Enclos, Duhart Milon, Pape Clement, Lynch Bages.

Wine I was more impressed with than the critics: L’Eglise Clinet, Angelus, Beausejour Duffau, Calon Segur, Clos Fourtet, Clos de la Cure, Grand Puy Lacoste, Haut Bages Liberal, Montrose.

Wine I will reserve judgment on until next year (with another year in barrel): Lafite, Margaux, Ausone, Pavie

*************************
The Group Poll Results (approximately 25 people, all with top palates – all wines were tasted more than once)

The Top Five Wines:

Lafite
Haut Brion
L’Evangile
Cos D’ Estournel
Latour

The Top Five Other Wines to Purchase

Ducru Beaucaillou
Sociando-Mallet
La Mission Haut Brion
Pavie Macquin
Forts de Latour

The Most Overrated
Pavie
Margaux

The Sleeper of the Vintage
Left Bank: Sociando-Mallet
Right Bank: Canon La Gaffeliere

This Year’s 2003 Montrose
Left Bank: Ducru Beaucaillou
Right Bank: Vieux Chateau Certan (I would agree, the VCC is incredible in 2005)

Comments from the group: “These are the best wines I’ve tasted since the 1989s – too bad they will cost 10 times what the 1989s did”. “How can these wines increase in value? I guess they said that about 1982 Las Cases as well...”. “The 2005 Pavie is so disgusting I felt like I was drinking ether. So, 100pts?. What was it - 16.5% alcohol?”. “I’m not sure if it’s me or my palate, but where’s the Bordeaux? I know many will say that great wines taste great from the get-go, but many of these are ready for bottling now! Except Lafite and Haut Brion which I found to be exceptional, I’m not sure what is going on. As an example, The D’Issan was like drinking liquid cherry velvet – at this stage! Not that that’s a bad thing but they just may be too open” (as a side note: this comment was from one of the most respected palates in the world so, modesty aside, this is quite interesting). “Don’t you dare tell anyone how good the Bahans or Forts are – I need to buy some first”. “The worst wine I tasted was the Petit Mouton – what is going on there?”. “The Forts de Latour is better than Mouton”. “Ausone missed it this year – it’s another 1982, which disappoints more than the score would suggest”. “Cheval is a tough call for me – I want to think it’s great and I’m sure it will get a huge score but it just isn’t”. “Why would I buy any of the First Growths when I can buy 1986 Leoville Las Cases or comparable wines for less that are just as good or better – and they are a known commodity after ageing”. “2005 Cos d’ Estournel is better than 2005 Lafite and the vineyards are so close they almost touch each other”. “When will someone speak up that a portion of Lafite’s vineyards are in St. Estephe? It drinks more like a St. Estephe anyway”. “The big surprise for me? The 2004s”. “In my opinion, if you have 2003 Lafite you better sell now – it’s probably only going to get a 96-98 from Parker and people will be up in arms as opposed to Latour’s certain 100pts and Margaux’s almost certain 98-100pts. I mean, isn’t the 2001 or 2002 Lafite a 95 or 96 Parker wine as well with a cost of $150+/- at retail? With the same score the value on the 2003 will plummit.”. “Don’t let the critics fool you, Margaux is a distant 4th this year in the First Growth race. The order is certainly Lafite, Haut Brion, Latour, Margaux and then Mouton”. “Don’t let the critics fool you, Lafite is a distant 4th this year. The order is certainly Margaux, Latour, Lafite and then Mouton”.
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Otto » Fri Apr 14, 2006 5:58 pm

In the modern world of Bordeaux where the American public ignores vintages that are merely “very good” and runs to purchase anything at any price from a “great” vintage, it seems to be a moot point.


Has it gone that bad? I thought that people didn't anymore buy good vintages, only very good ones. And now I hear that very good ones aren't good enough? Well, that's good for me as I don't like great ones (i.e. 2000, 1990) but love very good ones (1988, 2001). It will be cheaper for me :)

Except that it seems that I won't be buying any Bordeaux from now on if even the staunch traditionalist Léoville-Barton has gone over to the dark side. Sniff. Farewell Bordeaux. Claret will still remain my first love in wine but as it isn't made anymore I just have to move on.
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Paul Winalski » Sat Apr 15, 2006 12:54 am

Otto Nieminen wrote:[Has it gone that bad? I thought that people didn't anymore buy good vintages, only very good ones. And now I hear that very good ones aren't good enough?


At the price levels they're asking these days for Bordeaux, it had better be damn good before I'll shell out that sort of dough for it.

So they're cranking up the 1982 hype machine for another generation, eh?

Jeez, Louise! There's a Bordeaux customer born every minute.

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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby AlexR » Sat Apr 15, 2006 6:17 am

Statements like this make me want to croak and die:

The 2005 Bordeaux vintage will be the most sought after in history

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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Jenise » Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:30 pm

AlexR wrote:Statements like this make me want to croak and die:

The 2005 Bordeaux vintage will be the most sought after in history

Best regards,
Alex R.


I know, that's where Niki's retailerness surpasses his objectivity--and he's never been one to shy away from hyperbole. But take comfort in the fact that the 'group' he queried thought the Pavie the most overrated.
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:50 pm

I don't know the garagiste tasters' palate, so hard to judge from this report.Certainly others disagree re certain wines, with Neal Martin having Ausone as a contender for wine of the vintage, and Jane McQuitty at the Times having Ducru alongside Pavie as candidate for overmanipluated disappointment of the vintage.

I'm more interested in Jancis's take, as I have found her views on Bordeaux to often mirror mine:
http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/winenews060415

I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't be able to afford many of my old standbys (like Barton, though if Garagiste tasters are at all accurate that's no loss) anymore, at least in hyped vintages. But I'm heartened that folks whose tastes I respect (pros like Michael Pronay and my friend Mark Golodetz, as well as amateurs like Jim Dove) who tasted last week seem to think there will lots of really good 2005 Bordeaux from the cru bourgeois, 5th growths, St. Emilion regular Grande Cru Classes, etc. And my plans already included filling in on 2004s as I have an opportunity to taste them (I only bought Barton and Pavie-Mac on futures).

Not be be contentious, but it seems to be that no one that I know with many years experience of tasting Bordeaux at release seem to have the same concerns about the death of Bordeaux that many newer folks seem to have. Some members of my tasting group have been buying Bordeaux since the 70s, and they don't worry about that. My interest in Bordeaux started around 1991, and so the earliest wines I tasted in their relative youth were the the '89s & '90s (plus a few '88s, the '86s were tight as a professional snare at that time). Young Bordeaux tends to taste of oak. Now, that can be overdone (I'm no fan of the 1998 or 2000 Pavie, though I don't run screaming from the room, but I made my judgement after tasting them), but being horrified by any hint of oak just isn't conducive to tasting young Bordeaux. I'm sure wines that I love in their maturity ('83 & '85 Cheval Blanc, '83 Poyferre, '85 & '88 Haut-Brion, '86 Gruaud) showed some new oak -and ripe fruit- in their youth.

While I agree that declarations of vintage of the century for wines that are still in barrel might be premature, it's no more valid to dismiss wines that one hasn't tasted.




http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/winenews060415
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:02 pm

By the way, the previous comments weren't meant as a criticism of younger tasters here, just food for thought. And believe me there are wines that I feel have moved too far in the modern international style- not just Perse's right bank properties, but wines like Smith Haut Lafite, which has seemed too oaky for me last few vintages. And Poyferre, a wine with great sentimental history with me, has gone a bit over the line (though in some vintages, like the '99, I think that helped). If anyone needs proof of my like for traditional wines I'll show them my Soutards. :wink:
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby James Roscoe » Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:07 pm

Why are we getting all hyped up on the 2005 vintage? Just because it's in the press? I'm still getting over the 2000 hype which hit me as I was getting into this whole wine thing. Now I have to decide about 2005? My store still has plenty of 2001s and 2002s, thank you very much. The 2003s are a little too big for me, but I suspect I'll survive until the 2004s come around. I guess I don't have the cash to throw at futures so maybe that's why I don't get it. Have fun worrying about this stuff. Let me know what's good so that in two or three years I'll spend my $25 wisely. I guess the day of a good $12 Bordeaux is over.
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby JimDove » Sat Apr 15, 2006 6:24 pm

I found the email very interesting, especially the quotes. Here are some thoughts from my trip:

* Generations from now, 2005 will be in the pantheon of the greatest vintages. I may not have the experience tasting barrel samples to make such a statement -- but I drink enough bottled bordeaux to have an opinion.
* I do agree about Ausone. I think the 2003 is better (I tasted them side-by-side).
* The comment about Leoville Barton being Aussie like is ridiculous and probably a typo or error -- I think they meant Leoville Poyferre. Leoville Barton had finished picking before they even started at LP -- and it shows. It is fresh (perhaps at the expense of some flesh on the palate) and very wound up -- but, there's not the slightest thing Aussie about it.
* Unfortunately, I didn't taste Pavie -- so, I have no opinion on that one.
* I don't think there's a human being on the planet earth who knows for sure what the wine of the vintage will be fifty years from now. My guess is that each decade for the next fifty years will have its 2005 stars.
* I continue to be amazed by how much some liked Forts and disliked Mouton. My samples were different -- which, after this experience, does not surprise me a lot.

Cheers,
Jim
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Claude Kolm » Sat Apr 15, 2006 8:44 pm

Unless things have changed since my my most recent (and possibly last) visit to Bordeaux in 2001, many properties have not made definitive assemblages as of late March, and so what the press and others taste is at best an approximation of the final blend, at worst (and I have experience with this) a fraudulent attempt to garner positive criticism.
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Lou Kessler » Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:30 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:
Otto Nieminen wrote:[Has it gone that bad? I thought that people didn't anymore buy good vintages, only very good ones. And now I hear that very good ones aren't good enough?


At the price levels they're asking these days for Bordeaux, it had better be damn good before I'll shell out that sort of dough for it.

So they're cranking up the 1982 hype machine for another generation, eh?

Jeez, Louise! There's a Bordeaux customer born every minute.

-Paul W.


The 82 vintage was on release very inexpensive. I still have a little over two mixed cases left in my cellar. They were a great bargain compared to todays prices. P.S. They have all been fine wines. :P
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby JimDove » Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:36 pm

"at worst (and I have experience with this) a fraudulent attempt to garner positive criticism."


Claude,

Do you suspect that this is generally the case?

Thanks,
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Claude Kolm » Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:56 pm

Not generally, but in certain cases, yes. There's a lot of money riding on the March tastings, after all. When I used to visit Bordeaux, at a certain point (1989? I'm too lazy to go back and look), I took to visiting in late May instead of March, and I can't begin to tell you the number of estates that congratualted me, saying that I was getting a much better idea of the wines than those that had visited two months earlier. This continued throughout my period of visiting in late May until I finally dropped Bordeaux for a combination of reasons after 2001.
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby JimDove » Sat Apr 15, 2006 10:25 pm

"Not generally, but in certain cases, yes. There's a lot of money riding on the March tastings, after all. When I used to visit Bordeaux, at a certain point (1989? I'm too lazy to go back and look), I took to visiting in late May instead of March, and I can't begin to tell you the number of estates that congratualted me, saying that I was getting a much better idea of the wines than those that had visited two months earlier. This continued throughout my period of visiting in late May until I finally dropped Bordeaux for a combination of reasons after 2001."


I'm sure, in certain cases, that does happen. And, I would imagine that every day one gets closer to bottle, the more representitive the wine will be. But, I seriously doubt so many obviously terrific wines are going to taste less obviously terrific in May than they do today. Of course, that's not what you're saying. The 2005 vintage is going to be fantastic for Bordeaux. I'm just hoping I can afford some of my favorites...

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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Claude Kolm » Sat Apr 15, 2006 11:03 pm

Jim -- Let me give you an example. Except for Sauternes, Pessac-Léognan/Graves and St-Emilion, I generally visited and tasted at the château. However, for the the three afore-mentioned appellations, there were so many wines to taste that I assented to group tastings rather than individual visits for most of the wines. At such tastings, several of the producers turn up, and I feel it is my duty to give them my honest opinion of the wines. On more than one occasion, I have told them that I thought that the wine was too oaky and they respondedt thay the wine they presented was what they thought they American public wanted, and not what would go in the bottle.

Additionally, I have been told by numerous producers thrat late March is too early to reach the definitive blend.
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Paul Winalski » Sat Apr 15, 2006 11:46 pm

Claude Kolm wrote:I have told them that I thought that the wine was too oaky and they respondedt thay the wine they presented was what they thought they American public wanted, and not what would go in the bottle.

Additionally, I have been told by numerous producers thrat late March is too early to reach the definitive blend.


The French producers are no fools. They'll play the game. They get visits from customers from the States who tell them how much they appreciate the old style of wine and deplore over-oaked fruit bombs. They also know that unless they get good reviews from the critics who barrel-taste the wines looking for over-oaked fruit bombs, the importers won't buy their wines and put them in the market. So they fake up an over-oaked fruit bomb sample for the tastings, get the rave reviews, then produce they wine the way they want it.

It's too bad that this silly and expensive game has to be played at all.

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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Paul Winalski » Sat Apr 15, 2006 11:48 pm

The one encouraging note I saw in all this discussion is that it will be a great vintage for the lesser growths and unclassified wines. Affordable good Bordeaux I'm all in favor of.

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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby JimDove » Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:39 am

Paul Winalski wrote:
Claude Kolm wrote:I have told them that I thought that the wine was too oaky and they respondedt thay the wine they presented was what they thought they American public wanted, and not what would go in the bottle.

Additionally, I have been told by numerous producers thrat late March is too early to reach the definitive blend.


The French producers are no fools. They'll play the game. They get visits from customers from the States who tell them how much they appreciate the old style of wine and deplore over-oaked fruit bombs. They also know that unless they get good reviews from the critics who barrel-taste the wines looking for over-oaked fruit bombs, the importers won't buy their wines and put them in the market. So they fake up an over-oaked fruit bomb sample for the tastings, get the rave reviews, then produce they wine the way they want it.

It's too bad that this silly and expensive game has to be played at all.

-Paul W.



So, what you're suggesting is that Robert Parker got different samples than Jean-Marc Quarin and I got? Because, the samples I tasted were not as a rule 'over-oaked fruit bombs'. As a matter of fact, I struggle to think of more than a few wines I would criticize for being over oaked at this early stage. The wines are deeply fruited and with 'classic' structure -- they're not over-ripe as a rule.

I don't think I'm high on the list of Parker lemmings -- but, I've got to say that some of the theories seem to really be getting out there a bit.

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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Paul Winalski » Sun Apr 16, 2006 1:26 pm

JimDove wrote:So, what you're suggesting is that Robert Parker got different samples than Jean-Marc Quarin and I got?


It's very possible that has happened. It certainly happened in Burgundy. It's one of the reasons why RMP had to hire Rovani to do his tasting for him there.

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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Claude Kolm » Sun Apr 16, 2006 3:49 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:The one encouraging note I saw in all this discussion is that it will be a great vintage for the lesser growths and unclassified wines. Affordable good Bordeaux I'm all in favor of.

-Paul W.


Yes, I think the real story in Bordeaux these days is the small, unclassified châteaux that are producing lovely wines for $10-25/bottle on US shelves. They may not be wines for aging 20-30 years, but they provide plenty of pleasure and classic claret experience. The only problem is finding importers and retailers who are not so dependent on market-makers that they are willing to go off the beaten path and offer these wines. But they do exist, and I strongly encourage seeking them out.
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Re: 2005 Bordeauxs

Postby Claude Kolm » Sun Apr 16, 2006 3:53 pm

JimDove wrote:So, what you're suggesting is that Robert Parker got different samples than Jean-Marc Quarin and I got? Because, the samples I tasted were not as a rule 'over-oaked fruit bombs'. As a matter of fact, I struggle to think of more than a few wines I would criticize for being over oaked at this early stage. The wines are deeply fruited and with 'classic' structure -- they're not over-ripe as a rule.

I don't think I'm high on the list of Parker lemmings -- but, I've got to say that some of the theories seem to really be getting out there a bit.

Jim


Jim -- It's been five years since I've been to Bordeaux, so I cannot comment with current experience on what is going on these days. In the past, when I did go to Bordeaux, I was shown at certain châteaux where I knew the winemaker well, the wine that would be shown to Parker and hte wine that would go into the bottle. Certainly, this was not across the board, but it did happen.
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