Parker downgrades 2008

Following the en primeur tastings two years ago, the general feeling amongst the trade and the critics was that the 2008 vintage was solid, if unspectacular. Against this backdrop then, it's no surprise that the release of Parker's generous '08 scores met with a sizeable dose of cynicism. A couple of years on and it seems that Parker's enthusaism for the vintage has dwindled significantly. As we reported this morning, his in-bottle scores (published yesterday) see numerous wines downgraded or rated at the lower-end of their initial barrel-score spreads. Margaux is among those to lose its footing and falls from 95-97 points to 94, whilst Latour moves down from 96-98 to 95+. Others of this ilk include Pichon Lalande (down from 94-96 to 92); Cheval Blanc (95-97 to 93); Leoville Las Cases (95-97+ to 93+); and Cos d'Estournel (94-96+ to 92+). There is very little movement in the opposite direction, though Conseillante moves up from 92-94+ to 95.

Having previously ranked above 2006 and 2003 and only slightly lower than 2005, 2008's demotion means that it now ranks below all three vintages. In fact, if we look at the brands that make up the Liv-ex Fine Wine Investables Index and then compare en primeur scores (based on the mid-point of the barrel-score spread) to final in-bottle scores for each wine, it is clear that the wines have been downgraded by an average of more than one point. If we compare en primeur and final scores for the same brands* but for all physical vintages from 2000 onwards, we are able to track Parker's changing opinion of each vintage. This throws up some interesting results. Whilst the 2000 vintage has received the most notable overall upgrade (an average increase of 1.57 points), the 2008 vintage has seen the most remarkable negative score changes, with ratings decreasing by an average of 1.18 points.

The table below shows the average score change of each vintage. Given Parker's new take on the '08s, is the rapid price movement the vintage has seen over the past few months sustainable?

Parker opinion change by vintage 
Scores from

*Three component brands have been excluded from this calculation as certain wines have not yet received final in-bottle scores.

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