Decanter columnist Michael Broadbent was pitted against Robert Parker in a head-to-head ratings battle last night at a London tasting of some of Bordeaux’s top chateau.
Organised by Roberson of South Kensington, the tasting consisted of wines including 1985 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, 1989 Chateau d’Issan, 1986 Chateau Beychevelle, 1996 Chateau Leoville-Barton and 2000 Chateau Pavie.
The aim was to see whether the audience, who had paid £100 a ticket, aligned themselves more with Broadbent or Parker. The critics’ ratings for each of the wines remained undisclosed until the end.
Each of the wines had been praised by one critic and marked down by the other. Tasters were asked to vote for their favourite wines at the end of every flight.
The ten wines were judged in pairs, with Broadbent or Parker gaining a point for each of their favoured wines that received the highest number of audience votes.
Broadbent emerged victorious on the night, beating Parker by three points to two after a final recount.
The Broadbent-favoured 1985 Chateau Lafite Rothschild beat Parker-praised 1986 Chateau L’Eglise Clinet by 36 votes to 7, while 1996 Chateau Leoville-Barton, described by Parker as ‘brilliantly made with plenty of muscle and outstanding concentration’, triumphed over Broadbent’s 4 star 1993 Chateau Pichon-Lalande by 33 votes to 10.
Critics present included the Observer’s Tim Atkin, Malcolm Gluck, The Guardian’s Victoria Moore and Neal Martin from erobertparker.com.
The event stirred up a heated debate, though it was recognized that the results were of no statistical value. Atkin said, ‘It was a fascinating exercise, but I wish we’d done it blind. People give high scores to wines they think they should like. They see the name Lafite and are swayed, whereas I think it showed poorly.’
‘I was really impressed with the Pavie (given 100 points by Parker). I thought it was going to be fat, blowsy and over-oaked but it was actually a really smart, well-made wine.’
Martin aligned himself with Parker on the majority of the wines. ‘Though I did side with Michael on the Lafite’, he said.
Written by Lucy Shaw