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After the Flood

POSTED ON 07/08/2015

Thanks to an unfortunate flood in my cellar caused by water seeping in from a neighbouring property, the damage to the labels and wooden cases of the 2005 clarets I bought en primeur meant that they would be reduced by some 25% in value if I were to sell them. I received unofficial advice to that effect from no less an authority than Bonhams, the auctioneers.
The accident therefore propelled me to reject any notion of investment and to focus on drinking. So I opened my first bottle of the 2005 Château Calon-Ségur and a magnum of the Lynch-Bages. My verdict was that while both wines were as delicious as expected, neither were quite ready yet for drinking, although the Lynch Bages, considering it was in magnum, was surprisingly approachable.

After the FloodAfter the Flood

I was all the more sorry then that I missed the 10 Years On tasting of the 2005 red Bordeaux that took place at Bordeaux Index earlier this year. Agreeing that 10 years is still ‘relatively young’ and that ‘ ‘many Classed Growths remain relatively closed to smell, and tough to taste’, the writer and educator Michael Schuster called 2005 ‘a remarkably fine and attractive vintage…[with] a rich charge of fruit and a delightful, appetisingly fresh acidity’.

The conservative Schuster’s highest scores were for the four Médoc first growths: Latour (99), Lafite, Mouton-Rothschild and Margaux (all 98) plus Ausone (98). So I was intrigued to see that in his 2005s retrospective Robert Parker, the influential American critic, revised the original rating in which he gave only two clarets, Ausone and L’Eglise Clinet, 100 points, handing 100 point scores to another 10 châteaux.

The revision to 12 wines with perfect 100-point scores, the second highest ever after 2009 (19), shows that Parker is more enthusiastic about the 2005s than originally. Nonetheless 10 of the 12 are Right Bank reds and he mysteriously fails to give perfect scores to the four Médoc first growths, giving Margaux 98+, Latour and Mouton 97 and Lafite a derisory downgrade to 95. Some critics think he’s got it wrong, and I’m one of them.

The Wine Gang

7 August 2015

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