News: Robert Parker - Bordeaux En Primeur

What will it mean for the industry?

Last Thursday globally renowned critic Robert Parker announced his handover of tasting (& of course scoring..) Bordeaux En Primeur to British Wine Advocate taster, Neal Martin. It was a move that many knew was inevitable, most of all Mr Parker himself who, back in a 2012 Liv-ex interview, revealed this had been his intention since employing Neal.



Parker’s influence on the world of wine is undeniable: the creator of the 100 point rating system who made his name through recognizing the brilliance of 1982 has, ever since, dominated the market of wines he scored. He cites it being the “perfect time for me to hand over” En Primeur, although he will keep tasting from the bottle as “I love the wines”.


Speculation around the timing of this news will, of course, circulate. The hugely inflated En Primeur prices from 2011-2013 that caused prices to fall from barrel (where En Primeur is tasted & sold) to bottle have tarnished the reputation of the system, & indeed Bordeaux as a whole. These over-inflated prices were seen as a result of a combination of Bordelais’ greed & Parker’s scores.


So what will this mean for the industry, & specifically En Primeur? Neal Martin is a well-respected critic & writer, known to be a more conservative scorer & to favour a more delicate wine style to Parker’s big-hitters. This could, as many hope, make for a more sensibly priced system. And perhaps a greater diversity of blends within Bordeaux.



However, with Parker still scoring wines from the bottle, this could pave the way for score-savvy Bordelais’ to preempt how the two will work together & be more selective as to what is tasted en primeur vs the end blended result.


Bordeaux wines have always led the fine wine market, & will continue to do so. Huge pressure is now on the Bordelais for 2014; change being a great leveler, especially for the chateaux who rather played the system both in terms of style & pricing.


Either way, change is afoot in a region that arguably needs it, & having a range of critics, rather than everything hanging off one score can be no bad thing for the industry as a whole. We wish all parties, critics & wine-makers alike, the very best for the 2014 vintage.



The Author

Helen Richards

Hely's love of wine was born from a young age, spending summers exploring the vineyards of France. After studying Modern Languages at Oxford, she worked in publishing and branding before joining the JF Tobias team to help build our blog / written content. She loves wine, writing, yoga and adventure in equal measure and strives to balance all four, although not necessarily all at the same time!