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1947 Petrus - Another totally 'out-of-whack' rating from so called experts!!

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Henry Tang, an ex-Hong Kong government official, currently a candidate for Hong Kong's top job, is also an avid wine collector. A few years back, during an interview by Hong Kong TV at his home, the camera crew zoomed in on his collection of 1947 Petrus in his wine cellar!
I know it is a great wine, but out of curiosity, I did a Google search to check its current price and rating.
I was once again stunned to find the huge difference in rating between Parker and Wine Spectator!! 100 pts vs 89 pts!!!! This is the second time I noticed such a huge difference in rating between those two authoritative sources. The first time was the 1988 Mouton Rothschild. That time it was WS that gave it 100 pts whilst Parker only gave it 89 pts!!
Whats going on?!! You are talking perfection vs just good!!! Can't they tell the difference???!!!

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  1. Charles,

    Very interesting topic. Is there a timing difference between the comments I wonder, as well as the usual issues of bottle variation, etc.? It may also be that the google favourites such as Wine Searcher or Vinopedia are inconsistent in updating the scores when the wines are revisited further down the track?

    I recently tasted a 1990 Rousseau Chambertin, which WS rated as only 92 points in 1992. We then followed it up with Rousseau's 1990 Ruchottes-Chambertin, incidentally a WS 96-pointer in 1992, but nowhere near the same class as the Chambertin today. I suspect that a WS tasting today would produce a vastly different result, perhaps not too far from your 89 v 100 dilemma.

    1. A 65 year old Petrus might be drinkable and it might not. That's a little old for a claret and minute differences in storage and corking could have a huge impact.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kagemusha49

        I understand what you are saying. But for a collector who would like to obtain the bottle through auction say? The bidding strategy for a 100pts bottle will surely be different if that bottle was only 89pts!!

        1. re: Charles Yu

          Um - anyone buying this wine to "collect" it is basically not buying it to drink it. As far as drinkability goes this wine is on the downhill path. So reviews don't really matter as long as folks keep collecting it and are willing to pay for wine that is past its best.

          1. re: Charles Yu

            If I am not mistaken, there were claims about counterfeit 1947 wines for many labels including Petrus. Who knows, Suckling from WS might have a tasted an authentic bottle and Parker, a fake. I recall Parker's review of this and other 1947s where he wrote on an on about how fresh the wines were...Hmmm...

        2. Given the manner in which many "experts" taste wine (one or two samples, a minute or less per wine) and the degree to which personal taste plays a role in assessing a wine (Parker is a great example - elegant finesse wines are "watery" and "thin" to that man), plus bottle variation especially in older wines I am not surprised there are big discrepancies between wine scores in general.

          I agree with the OP that this particular one is somewhat unusual though - no difference in personal taste / preference should produce such a massive discrepancy between scores awarded by genuine experts (no matter how much a wine satisfies or doesn't satisfy your preference, the difference implies a serious gap between the experts in terms of their assessment of whether the wine was well-made etc, in other words more objective criteria).

          On the other hand we are looking at a 1947 Bordeaux - who knows if the bottles from which the critics tasted yielded quite different wines (storage etc). Also, were the ratings based on tastings carried out at roughly the same time? Still, agree that it's probably a bit odd.

          As a general point, other than in the context of pure investment (where ratings may matter as they can impact on prices), I don't understand people's obsession with wine ratings, especially the nonsensical 100 point scale. It's a very sad state of affairs when people buy a wine because it has reached the magical number of 90 in some expert's view while they do not buy the 89-rated wine because it is not rated 90 or more. How can anyone claim with a straight face that they are able to objectively judge the difference between 89 and 90 points, in particular when the wines have different characteristics?! Even if the score is composed of a number of distinct criteria to each of which a certain number of points is allocated, it still is a ridiculous system.

          I am not sure why Parker and his scale have become so successful. It certainly wasn't down to his amazing palate. A man who understands red Bordeaux and red Rhone but not much else (and most definitely not Burgundy) is able to single-handedly influence the prices of many wines. Incredible. And his cult-like following by Napa Cab-guzzling acolytes scares me. If we need wine critics, give me Jancis any time.