Magical 20 tasting

Today in Hong Kong, in front of 1,000 tasters and 20,000 glasses of Bordeaux 2009, Robert Parker presented his “Magical 20”. Passionate, warm and engaging, he delivered exactly what the audience had come to see. His message was simple and suitably hyperbolic:

“This is the greatest tasting of young wine ever to take place in Hong Kong.”

“These are the greatest wines from the greatest region on earth.”

"These wines are better than any wines the First Growths produced in the '50s and '60s, and as good as the wines they are producing today."

His evident enthusiasm was largely matched by the sea of tasters lined up in front of him.

The consensus from the hall seemed to be that that Conseillante, Leoville Las Cases, Palmer and Pontet Canet were showing particularly well. And although Parker tried to be equally enthusiastic about each of the 20, his personal preference for Cos d’Estournel and Angelus shone through. Both were described as “thrilling” and “stunning” multiple times – expect big scores for these big wines. Those with a nose for value should also take note of Brane Cantenac, which met with wide acclaim despite its affordability.

Will this tasting move the market? One prominent local merchant said, “2009 en primeur in HK starts tomorrow morning.” Others were unsure as to how widely his message would spread. The event had largely been seen as an opportunity for those estates included in the Magical 20 to gain exposure and sales in Hong Kong and China (hence the attendance of the majority of proprietors at the tasting). But it seems clear that if the market does move, the 2009s as a whole could equally benefit. Parker’s presentation was filled with praise for the vintage, which he clearly views as one of the very best (if not the best) of his lifetime. “These wines are brilliant now, but they will keep on getting better for 70 years or more… it is vintage that marries opulence and approachability with incredible longevity.”

None of the above may come as news to merchants in Europe, but it could well have an impact on the local market. Particularly as it adds to a trend already well established – the broadening of the market away from the First Growths – and the fact the 2009 vintage will soon be physically available. At the very least, it provides some welcome good news for a vintage that has slumbered since release.