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Lafite’s price rockets as Parker releases

Chateau Lafite 2008 has shot up in value after last night’s release of Robert Parker’s scores.

The American critic published his verdict, comparing it to both 2005 and 2000, at around 11pm UK time last night.

He writes in the Wine Advocate newsletter, ‘It did not take me long to realize that the 2008 vintage was dramatically better than I had expected…excellent, with a number of superb wines that are close to, if not equal to the prodigious 2005 or 2000 vintages.’

According to Liv-ex, Chateau Lafite – one of his wines of the vintage – was trading at £2000 per case last night, and by this morning was changing hands for £3,500.

‘It’s down now to about £3000,’ Liv-ex’s Jack Hibberd said. ‘But it shows the Parker effect is still strong.’

Parker’s comments are at odds with the UK trade, which has maintained that the wines are better than expected but not overwhelming. Except for a few exceptions, however, merchants are now endorsing Parker.

Justerini & Brooks and Farr Vintners have published the scores with little comment. J&B said, ‘Mr Parker has presided over the 2008s, and he likes them – a lot.’

But Berry Bros called them ‘bewildering’, and Armit warned ‘correct pricing’ would still need to be applied in order to sell the wines.

Simon Staples, Berry’s sales and marketing director, said he was worried the en primeur campaign ‘could be stopped dead’ if the chateaux that received rave reviews from the American critic decided to increase their prices.

‘No-one else believes this vintage is outstanding,’ said Staples. ‘Parker went crazy about 2003, on his own, and he missed 2005 when everyone loved it and now he is screaming about 2008, when we just think it was better than we had hoped for.’

Parker wrote in The Wine Advocate, ‘[The vintage] appears to be a notch below 2005, but it is better than any other vintage of the last decade except 2000,’

Wines of the vintage according to his scores are Chateau Lafite and Petrus, both at 98-100. Pomerol came in for particular praise, and Petrus was described as better than the 2005.

All first growths got over 94 potential points, with the lowest being Mouton at 94-96. Parker also reviewed a much larger number of wines than last year – over 400 reds and around 50 whites, including Sauternes.

‘Twenty-three wines get in excess of 95 points, which is a big endorsement of the vintage,’ said one well-placed Bordeaux negociant. ‘Leoville-Las-Cases got a better score than three of the five first growths (95-97+), and Pontet Canet got a particularly good score at 96-98+.

‘Chateau Haut Bailly got 95-97, and all three are yet to release their price. This may well affect their decision-making.’

James Wormall, director of private sales at Jeroboams told decanter.com, ‘The scores are a double-edged sword. They will help the campaign on wines that are already out – people who thought Palmer was overpriced two days ago, are now wading back it.

‘But I am worried about wines that are not yet released, and the second tranches of the top wines. It remains a drinker’s vintage not a speculator’s vintage, and if the prices are incorrect, the campaign will grind to a halt. We have seen some very sensible pricing so far, and let’s hope it continues.’

Selected Wine Advocate scores for Bordeaux 2008

Ausone 96-100 (‘flirts with perfection’)

Cheval Blanc 95-97 (‘should evolve for three decades or more’)

Cos d’Estournel 94-96+ (‘should gain weight, richness, and a few Parker points by the time it is bottled’)

Le Dome 95-97

La Fleur Petrus 92-94

Fombrauge 90-92

Haut Brion 95-97 (‘seemingly light on the palate, but very intense in flavor’)

Lafite 98-100 (‘one of the most profound young wines I have ever tasted’)

Latour 96-98 (‘Damn me for saying it, but I actually think the 2008 Latour will turn out to be even better than the 2005 or 2000’)

Leoville-Barton 92-94

Margaux 95-97 (‘a superb vintage for Chateau Margaux’)

Montrose 95-97

Mouton 94-96 (‘charmingly forward and fleshy’)

Palmer 95-97

Pape Clement 94-96

Petrus 98-100 (‘destined to be one of the greatest Petrus ever made’)

Smith Haut Lafitte 93-95

Troplong Mondot 95-97

Valandraud 92-94

Liv-ex analysis and graphs

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux, and Oliver Styles

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