A top Bordeaux négociant has revealed plans to produce a world first: a limited edition of cases of wine signed by American critic Robert Parker and labeled "100/100."
According to the regional newspaper Sud Ouest, Bernard Pujol, head of Bordeaux Wine Selection (BVS), will present the wines at Vinexpo, which is due to open in Bordeaux later this month.
The specially designed boxes, made from lime-washed wood, will contain five wines from the 2009 vintage. They will come from Clos Fourtet (Saint-Émilion), Smith Haut Lafitte (Graves), Leoville Poyferré (Saint-Julien), Cos d'Estournel (Saint- Estèphe), and Pape Clément (Graves) – the only white wine in the lineup.
Inscriptions on the top of the cases and repeated inside will read: "100 points," "Bordeaux 2009," and "Robert Parker Selection." They will also carry Parker's signature.
Representatives of the five estates represented in the "Robert Parker Selection" – Bernard Magrez (Pape Clément), Matthieu Cuvelier (Clos Fourtet), Florence Cathiard (Smith Haut Lafitte), Didier Cuvelier (Leoville Poyferré), and Aymeric de Gironde (Cos d'Estournel) – gathered for the unveiling of the first case and posed for photographs.
Six hundred of the boxes will be sold, with a retail price in France of around 2,000 euros ($2,627). Prices may be higher abroad once taxes have been added.
Pujol told Sud Ouest that the idea for the limited edition came to him last year. "In 2009, a year of superb quality, Robert Parker gave 18 Bordeaux properties 100/100. The best of the best. Why not bring some of them together in a special case? Well, here it is!"
According to Pujol, the deal was struck with the new owners of The Wine Advocate, based in Singapore, and directly with Parker himself. Pujol declined to reveal any details, saying only: "I didn't sign a single check, there was no commercial transaction, but I do have an arrangement with them."
In Pujol's view, the deal with the Advocate would not have been possible before the change of ownership.
The Sud Ouest report speculates on whether, after the sale of the Advocate, Parker might lose control of the use of his name for commercial purposes. It quotes a Gironde broker as saying: "I bet that within a year or two the Asians will be doing exactly as they please."
The BVS "Robert Parker Selection" includes a USB stick containing a short film in which the wine critic explains how he arrives at 100/100 scores. Each buyer will also receive a one-year subscription to the Advocate.
NB: This article has been updated since it was first published to include more details of the Sud Ouest story.