Parker gives first verdict on 2002

  • Thursday 11 September 2003

Robert Parker has told French newspaper Sud Ouest he is 'pleasantly surprised' by much of the 2002 vintage in Bordeaux – though he is in no doubt that the right bank has produced the weakest wines.

The American critic has just completed his tastings in Bordeaux. This is the first time he has tasted the 2002s – he did not make his customary visit in the Spring for personal reasons.

He told Sud Ouest, 'There are some pleasant surprises. The Indian summer saved the vintage, and the Cabernet Sauvignon really benefitted from it.'

In common with most professionals Parker considers Pomerol 'the weakest appellation', and he said many of the St-Emilions are over-extracted and, 'as there was not as much fruit as in 1998 or 2000, some of the wines are rather astringent.'

He went on to praise the Graves, and added, 'The vintage is a real success in the Medoc where there are some great wines. The top growths of Pauillac are splendid – close to the 2000s in quality.' The whites were good, though not exceptional.

UK merchants Fine & Rare Wines Limited said its buyers had the same opinion, and suggested prices would 'shoot up' when Parker published his notes. 'The smart buyers will be choosing their wines carefully and buying now.'

Elsewhere in the interview Parker said the market was difficult for everybody, 'Italians, as well as French and Californians,' with the sole exception of Australian wines, which were still moving.

He warned that with the enormous prices paid by enthusiasts for the 2000 vintage it was going to be difficult to sell subsequent vintages, especially as the percentage of Americans that drank wine was small – and young people aren't drinking it either. 'People should understand that cellars in the United States are full. Enthusiasts paid a colossal price for the 2000.'

Lastly, Parker told the newspaper he intends to carry on as a wine critic for another ten years, concentrating on Bordeaux and the Rhone.

'I've still got the same enthusiasm and the same passion. Bordeaux is a benchmark for all wines.'

Asked what he would choose if it was the last wine he drank, he said, 'People say I like heavily-wooded, alcoholic wines. That's a myth. If I could drink just one more wine it would be the Haut-Brion 1989.'

  • Robert Parker has parted company with his translator of five years, Hanna Agostini, and will not replace her, according to Sud Ouest. Agostini is involved in a court case Parker described as 'labyrinthine' to UK newspaper the Guardian. She is accused of fraudulently using his headed notepaper, and may face charges of forgery, use of forged documents and concealment of a breach of trust. She emphatically denies any wrongdoing. Parker told the Guardian he sees the case as an attempt to embarrass and discredit him.

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