Andy Perdue isn’t a big fan of Wine Spectator magazine’s 100-point system, but by any ratings, these two bottles of 2005 French wines are perfect. To be sure, he drank them.
PERHAPS NOTHING is more polarizing in the professional wine world than the 100-point system. Not even corks vs. screwcaps.
For more than three decades, the 100-point system has been the gold standard in U.S. wine reviews. It was popularized by wine critic Robert Parker, who founded the Wine Advocate newsletter, and it has helped make Wine Spectator the most important wine publication in the world.
I don’t use the 100-point scale. I have nothing against the system, but it isn’t my style. I am happy, though, that it can reward winemakers for jobs well done and help wine lovers find some of the best wines in world.
Two 100-point wines
These two wines can be found at wine shops specializing in collectible Bordeaux. Prices reflect ranges found from U.S. retailers on wine-searcher.com.
Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2005 Grand Vin, Saint-Julien, $245-$315: This cabernet sauvignon-based blend reveals finesse over power with complex aromas and flavors that range from potting soil and soy sauce to warm Christmas spices and ripe raspberry. This is just beginning to come into its prime.
Chateau Pavie 2005 Grand Cru, Saint-Emilion, $335-$450: With a focus on merlot, this Right Bank blend provides generosity and voluptuousness throughout, including notes of fig, ripe blueberry, plum and horehound. It’s backed by firm tannins reminiscent of a Washington red blend. It has held up beautifully and likely will gain complexity for another decade.
Even if you don’t like the system, aren’t you just the least bit curious what a 100-point wine tastes like? I certainly am. A 100-point wine is, in the mind of the critic who awards it, perfection. It’s a wine that doesn’t get better, that cannot score higher.
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What does perfection taste like?
I’ve tried a handful of 100-point wines. Recently, I had the opportunity to taste two perfect wines from Bordeaux, both from the stellar 2005 vintage.
Coming to own these two reds — Chateau Leoville and Chateau Pavie — was pure accident. Last winter, someone in Walla Walla was putting on a fundraiser to help a family in need. I saw these two wines hadn’t yet been bid on, so I made the minimum bid just to get things started.
Much to my surprise — and initial dismay — I won both bottles. When I got them home, I looked up information on them because I didn’t know a lot about them. That’s when I discovered Wine Spectator gave each of them a perfect 100-point score.
Now what? It’s not like I’m going to just open them on a Thursday night to go with lasagna. So I decided to put on a gathering of close friends, all of whom love wine and support my wine-writing career. Who better to share them with?
The wines? Terrific (see my notes in the sidebar). Enjoying them with friends? I’d rate that 100 points.