Decanter’s first tasting of the newly-bottled 2005 Medocs produced a record-breaking 25 awards - only two of them First Growths.
Of the 25 five-star awards only Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild represent the very top rank. Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan) was not tasted.
Other winners in the five-star category spanned the 1855 classification, including Calon Segur (3rd growth), Duhart-Milon (4th) and Haut-Bages-Liberal (5th).
Chateaux Latour and Lafite-Rothschild were awarded 4- and 3-stars (Highly Recommended and Recommended) respectively.
All wines were tasted blind, by a panel including consultant editor Steven Spurrier, the Wine Society’s Sebastian Payne MW, Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners, Richard Bampfield MW, Hugo Rose MW and other elite tasters.
Fifth growth Chateau Pedesclaux gets five stars, as do such eminent properties as Brane-Cantenac, Pichon Longueville and Rauzan-Segla.
Following a leak of the tasting results, Pedesclaux has been the subject of fevered speculation on both internet message boards and merchants’ order lists. The wine was one of three (along with Mouton and Pichon) to garner an automatic 5-star award (averaging a score of over 18.5/20 from all tasters) without the need for re-tasting.
There is almost £1000 difference in the price tags between the top ranking wines. Pedesclaux is retailing for £20-30 per bottle, for example – while Chateau Margaux weighs in at up to £903.
When the wines were revealed the panel expressed amazement that so many lowly 4th and 5th growths could have trumped their more illustrious counterparts.
The main reason, Payne said, was the overall excellence of the vintage, with beautifully balanced wines at every level. ‘It really is exceptional – and very exciting.’
As well as this, the panel stressed that the wines develop at a different rate. Browett said, ‘If you’re honest, Forts de Latour, when it is young, is better than Latour. Wines that have an early drinking date show better than wines that are there for the long term.’
Decanter editor Guy Woodward added: ‘We always knew this was an exceptional vintage, but the top wines are priced beyond the means of most of us. With over a dozen 5-star wines available at under £40 a bottle, there are actually some stunning bargains for savvy wine lovers.’
The full results of the 2005 Medoc crus classes tasting will appear in Decanter’s July issue, on sale June 4.
Written by Adam Lechmere