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Is Bordeaux 2011 Really Better Than 2008? – Analysis on Parker’s Scores

One of the big questions that has arisen from the contentious 2011 vintage seems to be ‘Is it better than the 2008?’ There is a lot of spin being talked at the moment and this is quite understandable as chateaux, negotiants and merchants all have a difficult vintage to sell. Spin may be understandable, but it is misleading in my book and damages Bordeaux in the long run. As a merchant I believe very strongly that I need to be straight with my customers. At the end of the day credibility and honesty are worth more than hype. I am very well aware that my bluntness may not go down well with chateaux owners and wine producers – they, too, read this blog. However I am amongst the first to trumpet their successes and spend a lot of time and effort in promoting them – I do genuinely love Bordeaux wine.

Parker’s scores are out and deserve some serious attention. John, a customer and a friend, sent me a great piece of analysis comparing the back vintages of Parker scores with those of 2011. I would say, with a wink, the he is obviously like me – a sad chap who sits and ponders about Bordeaux on rainy Saturday afternoons. His analysis says everything: the 2011 is NOT better than the 2008.

Looking at Parker’s scores the 2011 vintage is more similar to the 2007 (which only confirms my thoughts during the En Primeur tastings) and from John’s analysis seems now evidently akin to the 2002 vintage. At the time of reporting the 2011 vintage is well below the likes of 2008, 2006, 2003 and 2001 – and of course the great vintages of 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010. John’s analysis looked at all the Bordeaux vintages since 2000 to show how many wines have been given 94 points or better by Parker in each vintage. The vintages are placed in order of superiority using this rational. You can read his analysis for yourself below:

2009 98

2005 78

2000 56

2010 53

2008 43

2006 30

2003 29

2001 19

2011 7 are 94 or more at present. 42 have 94 in their range. Likely to get around 15 in total

2004 10

2002 7

2007 5

John says: ‘I think that this is a very interesting result and once again indicated that 2008 is not a bad vintage at all even after the re-rating down by Parker. It still stands well clear of 2001, 2003 and 2006.’

Given the spin and the unrealistic pricing policy of the 2011s Bordeaux wine lovers need to consider buying the wines very carefully. There are wines from less prestigious chateaux that have achieved high scores, cost less and are arguably a much better buy.

For example the 2011 La Fleur Morange (which could soon see Grand Cru status) – a favourite of both mine and John’s – came in joint 21st highest mark out of over 350 Bordeaux reds tasted by Parker if you take 94+ points are higher than 94. As you can see La Fleur Morange beat such wines as Cos d’Estournal, Leoville Poyferre, Montrose, Calon Segur, Lynch Bages, Petrus and even Lafite. When all these prices come out La Fleur Morange is going to be a bargain – especially when you consider the Lafite is now selling circa £458 a bottle and La Fleur Morange should be around £45. What’s more the Second Wine, Mathilde, was scored at 90-92 – the same score as Cos d’Estournel and Forts de Latour. Mathilde is usually released at about £15 a bottle – Cos has been released and is currently in excess of £100 a bottle. Need I say more?

See John’s analysis below:

Ausone (96-100)

Vieux Chateau Certan (94-96)

Gracia (94-96)

Cheval Blanc (94-96)

Le Pin (94-96)

Le Dome (94-96)

Chateau Margaux (94-96+)

La Mission Haut Brion (93-95)

Ducru Beaucaillou (93-95)

Pontet-Canet (93-95)

Mouton-Rothschild (93-96)

Latour (93-95)

Les Asteries (93-95)

Pavie (93-95)

Leoville-Las Cases (93-95+)

La Violette (93-95)

L’Eglise Clinet (92-95)

Haut Brion (92-95)

Angelus (92-95)

Vieux Chateau Mazerat (92-95)

La Fleur Morange (92-94+)

Bellevue Mondotte (92-94+)

Peby Faugeres (92-94+)

Palmer (92-94+)

So, if you are considering purchasing some of the 2011s, buy sensibly, do your homework and spend your money wisely. Alternatively look at past vintages where there are some great wines to be had!

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