Speaking at WineFuture in Hong Kong, where he conducted a tasting entitled “The Magical 20″, he spoke of the “brilliance” of Bordeaux and the “opulence” and “finesse” of the best wines from this harvest.
Parker tasted the wines with an audience of 1,000 press, buyers and wine collectors from around the world, requiring 1,400 bottles to be poured into 20,000 glasses, using 45 sommeliers.
As the tasting drew to a close he declared that the 2009 vintage was even better than he had initially thought after sampling during en primeurs.
“When I first tasted [the 2009s], if you look at what I wrote, I said it was high in alcohol, very concentrated, and with sweet tannins, and all those characteristics were demonstrated at this tasting today.
“But what impressed me more than at the barrel tastings is the elegance of the wines and the finesse of the tannins – and the tannins were sweeter and better integrated than I remember them being in barrel” he said.
During the tasting he compared 2009 to the Bordeaux vintages of ‘21, ‘29, ‘47, ‘49, ’59, ‘82, ‘90, as well as, “to a certain extent”, 2003.
He explained that these years all produced wines that are “opulent, exuberant and impressive, even in youth”.
Continuing, he noted that they all had a combination of youthful approachability and the ability to age, meaning, “the window of drinking is very long.”
Speaking of the “Magical 20”, listed below, he said, “Every one of these wines will be alive in 30 years time and will probably be more pleasurable and complex in 75-100 years.”
He also gave a detailed explanation of what he looks for in a great wine, stressing, “The purity of flavours should be there, and not aromas like a petrochemical plant or ‘off’ and vegetal characters.”
“We have not seen in these wines even a trace of vegetal characters, the green beans and asparagus – the flaws in a wine – and that’s why it is such a wonderful vintage,” he continued of the 2009s.
He then stated, “We’ve seen 20 wines that behaved brilliantly… and showed the brilliance of Bordeaux.
“This is one of the greatest vintages of my lifetime.”
Parker even joked during the tasting, “I’m probably going to swallow a bit of each of these wines because they are too good to spit completely.”
Speaking of his career more generally, he compared every new vintage in Bordeaux to “going back to school,” adding, “and that has sustained me, energised me.”
Meanwhile, referring to the châteaux and the improvements in quality over the 33 years he been visiting the region he said, “What they’ve done is an incredibly motivating force”.
The “Magical 20″ were all châteaux Parker selected because he believes they are producing wines of “first growth quality”, although he added, “It could have been the magical 40 or 50 given the qualitative revolution that has taken place in Bordeaux in the last decade.”
The wines shown are below, in the order they were poured, and Parker explained: “I have arranged the wines to try to go from more light and delicate styles to richer and more powerful styles and then at the end, the most exuberant, flamboyant and opulent… and hopefully I’ve done that.”
1. Haut Bailly
4. Malescot St. Exupéry
6. Smith Haut Lafitte,
7. Pape Clement
8. La Fleur-Petrus
9. La Conseillante
11. Le Gay
12. Léoville Las Cases
13. Léoville Poyferré
14. Pichon Lalande
16. Pichon Baron
17. Pontet Canet
18. Cos D’Estournel
19. Clos Fourtet
8th November, 2011 by Patrick Schmitt