The EWS 2005 Bordeaux tasting and RMP's Newsletter: Are They Consistent?

Sadly, I did not have the pleasure of attending the EWS tasting on 2005 Bordeaux. From everything I have heard, it was exiting and fun to check in on these wines.

Several folks have told me, after reading the results of Parker’s recent e-newsletter, that the ranking and levels of enthusiasm for the wines in the newsletter are at variance from some people’s recollection of his comments that evening. For instance, I was told Le Gay was his favourite wine that night, but he lists it as #3 in his newsletter, and that LMHB was not listed in his top 6 that night, but is listed as 100 points in the newsletter.

Not trying to cause a storm or controversy, but I’m trying to reconcile the two reports–that from folks telling me what they recall happening that night from the newsletter. Are they discrepant or are they consistent?

Could folks who attended speak to this? I’m not looking for speculation or innundo; mostly interested in recounts from folks who were there.

I hadn’t seen this when I posted this, but someone on eRP posted the details:" onclick=";return false;

Anyone? Anyone?

He remembers every wine he’s ever tasted. Just doesn’t remember the score he gave it.

If that’s true, its pretty scary. I’m told someone recorded his comments so it may prove interesting.

Hi Wilfred,

I was there and have posted my own account of the proceedings.

I will have to review my notes more thoroughly but three things immediately leap out at me. First, there are some minor errors in the popular vote totals as Parker reports them (Montrose got two points, not 30; Ducru got 30, not 57 etc). Second, Parker did not announce specific scores for all the individual wines that evening.

Third, I do recall him saying nice things about wines 7 (“lacy, voluptuous, and surprisingly drinkable” I jotted down; turned out to be LMHB) and 8 (which he mistook for Cos–it turned out to be L’Eglise Clinet) but when he announced his top wines of the evening, #7 was not among them. At the end of the tasting, before the wines were revealed, he said “six wines that blew me away tonight: 1, 3, 8, 9, 13, 14” but said that his favorite wines of the evening were 9, 8, and 3 followed closely by 1, 13, and 14.

For those without the crib sheet handy, that is Le Gay, L’Eglise Clinet, and Pape Clement as his top three wines of the night, followed closely by Pavie, Lafite, and Troplong.

[edited to add the names of the wines]

Also, as I mentioned in one of the other threads about this: he claimed he had tried these wines in two years, but he hosted a tasting last year of 2005 Bordeaux. I posted the article in the thread. It is generally pretty hard to trust Parker or his memory these days.

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I think there are significant discrepancies in his stories. The only suggestion that made sense is that his rating is based on “quality” and his ranking is based on “preference”. That’s a little hard to read into his comments and even more difficult to make complete sense of. Otherwise, we are looking at sloppy and unreliable ratings. Hmmmm…

Forgive me, but this to me isn’t a minor thing. He gives preferences in one order at the time, and in publication (email) form, they are in a different order.

We can parse language (“preferences” versus “points” ) but this really is the language of a theologian, not a wine rater. A wine ranking is a wine ranking.

I don’t mean to blow something out of proportion than it isn’t, but does anyone else see a big problem with this? I do. What if he were to do that with his tastings at chateaux, etc.

Not trying to bash, but geez.

Yet a ranking is not a rating, Wilfred.

I’m not sure it has any bearing on the current thread, but it’s important to keep in mind that rankings and point scores are two separate things (with perhaps some limited areas of cross-application).


Doesn’t that defeat the purpose (and controversy) of having a numerical scoring system in the first place? Isn’t 95 greater than 90? How do you argue that 92 is greater than 94?

Now, if you’re talking current drinking vs. potential, then he should just say so and perhaps issue 2 different scores per wine.

Just another odd twist among many over there over the past couple of years.


The internet is a big challenge for everybody. It is really troubling for those with the status of a Robert Parker.

Parker is a good taster. He is not perfect. People give way too much weight to him, his ratings and scorings. If you have a bit of knowledge it is pretty clear that there is little to no difference between a wine with 97/98/99 or 100 points. No human being is able to separate top class Bordeaux, Burgundy etc. on a regular base. Anyone who believe this is the victim of Public Relations.

Parker lives good from his status as the most important wine critic of today. Herin lies the problem. It is impossible for him to proof that he is the absolute superior palate without weak moments. But can we expect that he damages his own reputation, cerdibility, status? No - that would be silly. He has hired a lot of colleguas recently and has to pay them. Furthermore we live in a challenging economic situation. And he lost clients recently - many are here on this board now.

Really - I wouldn´t be Robert Parker. I too guess that his empire is in trouble but I wish him nothing bad anyway. He deserve respect. But on the other hand - some of the trouble he has is self inflicted. But as a christian I say: Who has no fault - throw the first stone.

Bruce, I think I’ve got to go with Chris on this one. The ordinal and cardinal scales need to be consistent. Either the Le Gay is better or not.

There are certainly many instances in which we want something of lower quality. That doesn’t make Caddyshack better than the Godfather, that juicy burger better than a Flannery strip or the lovely Rose on a hot day better than a 91 Dominus.

Nice thoughts, and I agree pretty much agree.

That being said, this is not a problem with his palate or even his scoring of the wines per se. It is a problem with his inconsistent accounting of those scores. At best, it indicates sloppiness and maybe a mix up that should be corrected. At worst, it indicates score manipulation after the labels were revealed. In his defense, I can’t see what the motive would be for score manipulation considering the results. Any point along this spectrum is bad for his credibility - not even as a taster, but as thorough and thoughtful critic.


you are right - he should call things as they were and shouldn´t doctor anything. But maybe it´s just a simple fault without deeper reason. I don´t know. What I will say is: I don´t want to be his judge. At least I like to know what he has to say first.

The days of the mythic “Super-Critic” are over. Some have watched and realized the overblown status for decades and some have learned along the way that RMP is only human. Like it or not, Parker has provided an excellent service to consumers (particularly the average fine wine consumer) for a long time, if not always to the satisfaction of his many detractors.

Jay Selman’s recent thread about consistency is very well founded and I largely agree with Jurgen. Maintaining perfect 100 point tasting and memory consistency is impossible, not to mention doing so while being the center of attention at a large gathering, public speaking while tasting, evaluating small pours after a long day…etc. He deserves considerable respect for his accomplishments and a bit of leeway for his errors amidst the inevitable rising tide of cynicism. If one can’t accept his human limitations (whether or not they’re confessed), perhaps that’s not really RMP’s issue.


On that evening, he offered up his top 6 wines, then gave 100 points 2 weeks later to La Mission Haut Brion, a wine not in the top 6 on that evening.

I am nobody’s judge and far from perfect, but how could anyone offer up a reasonable explanation for this, besides Bob Parker?


Bob has written this

Simple…a fun tasting…I was asked what my favorite wines were…> and I responded in order the wines were tasted> …La Mission was “perfect” for me…but it wasn’t as enjoyable or as hedonistic as the ones I listed…this wasn’t a formal tasting…was trying to have fun like all the others…and sharing my thoughts about the wines I wanted to drink the most on a night in September…as for the Haut Brion…in 10 years that wine will be awesome…the82,85,86,88,89,(not the 90 for some reason),95,96,and 00 have all gone through a similar weird stage…Cheval Blanc is another one that often shows poorly in the first 5-7 years young…one of the reasons to wait at least ten years for a great vintage of Bordeaux

Which goes against what you have written.

In addition, why give a wine 85 points that you know is going to be awesome in 10 years?

Shit, he gave it 98 points last year.

Of course, one irony is that a blind tasting ought to be more formal than the current methodology that he tastes by. He spent 2 hours with 15 wines, probably more time than he ever spends with some of his “real” rated wines.


I agree with the sentiment in your post. My issue has nothing to do with how Bob rated the wines compared to his official TWA published ratings. That’s fine.

My astonishment is that his comments at the event seem to diverge a good deal from the e-newsletter he sent out.

I wouldn’t fault Bob at all for not keeping careful notes of his reaction at the EWS event, per se, except that he wrote up a report on it as a factual recount of the evening. My problem is that the two don’t jive. If he writes up a formal account of his impressions of the event, then it seems it should comport what what he said and people observed at the time.

Not a witch hunt here, by the way, but the discrepancy is somewhat astonishing to me. I guess my point is, if this is so discrepant, what else is discrepant?

Last point–I’m not in any way saying this is deliberate on Bob’s part. But if its just sloppiness, that’s worrisome too.

That’s what gets me, too. Between this and the entire Dr Big J mess, I have decided not to continue my eBob subscription. I am thinking about getting back onboard with Tanzer after being pissed off at all his price increases over the recent past. Tanzer seems to have less ‘baggage’ these days, is it just because he is less public?


My intention was simply to remind Wilfred that ranking and rating are different.
It is a fact that is easily washed over. Wilfred himself, in his comments, seems to conflate the two. Mr. Parker, in the introduction to each and every issue of the WA since God knows when, seems to conflate the two.
Yet they are very different. Ordinal scales, for instance, are very context specific. In any given horse race the 1st, 2nd, 3rd… on through last place finishes are completely dependent upon that context; the track that day, the horses’ conditions, the jockeys’ dispositions, etc, etc, etc. That which was 1st on any given day might only be a hair’s length ahead of last place, and may very well end up last in the next run.
Ratings along a cardinal scale are supposed to be very different. That which was 92 should again be 92, irrespective of external conditions.
That was the reasoning behind my comments to Wilfred re: differences between ranking and rating.

As to “consistency”, I more or less agree with you.
There should be some agreement between the ordinal and cardinal scales. If Wine X rates a 92 and Wine Y rates an 87, then one would think that a preference ranking would have Wine X trumping Wine Y. The only way one could envision this NOT happening would be the case where a rating based on quality were to be levied according to a different set of principles than simple preference ranking. That would mean that “wine quality” and “wine preference” are dis-connected.
I can easily imagine the howls of indignation that would follow such a heretical way of doing things.
Rather than wade into that complicated mess, I’ll simply point out that this is no longer theoretical. Mr. Parker has responded to this issue on the Squires board, and has confirmed that, from his perspective, there are times when wines of lesser quality are better than wines of higher quality (his comment there: “La Mission was 'perfect” 'or me…but it wasn’t as enjoyable or as hedonistic as the ones I listed").
What that really means is open to individual interpretation.

There are certainly many instances in which we > want > something of lower quality. That doesn’t make Caddyshack better than the Godfather, that juicy burger better than a Flannery strip or the lovely Rose on a hot day better than a 91 Dominus.

With this comment you really find yourself in the same situation as Mr. Parker.
And to both of you I am obliged to ask what you mean by the word “better”?
I’m irreparably and pathologically attached to the idea that wine appreciation is contextual. Who the hell wants to drink Dominus on a hot day, in the shade of an oak tree, lolling around on a blanket with a picnic hamper filled with an assortment of pates and cheeses, a crusty bit of baguette, and a cold salad of grilled summer vegetables? Of course a rose will be better, point scores be damned.