Since Robert Parker began rating wines in the 1970s, no bottle has ever been awarded - by him or anyone else - more than 100 points. Until now. This week, at a Park Avenue townhouse, revered Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton bestowed a stunning 103 points to a bottle of 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, shattering the previous record for a wine by three entire points.
"So this is great wine," said a clearly perplexed Silverton as she alternated between sips and guzzles of the famed nectar which features a watercolor by late film maker John Huston as its label. "I guess what I have been drinking was good wine. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but what a thrill to drink greatness."
Only hours after the 103 point rating was made public Wednesday afternoon, Pierre Lurton, director of the famed Chateau Cheval Blanc estate in St. Emilion Bordeaux, filed an international lawsuit on behalf of the late Thierry Mononcourt, the storied winemaker of that estate's mythical 1947 vintage.
Lurton would not talk to the press, but the lawsuit, in part, contains the following; "If the 100 point ceiling was to be shattered, surely the '47 Cheval should have been the one to do it. This is, forgive my tongue, but it's some b*llshit."
The "One-Oh-Three", as it has already become known,, was the talk of the wine world.
In Los Angeles, soms gathered to discuss the One-Oh-Three. Some believe it marked the end of civilized wine ratings and blamed it on America's current over-the-top pop culture which demands the outrageous. "The wine world needs words not numbers, but flashy numbers get press and sell," said Lyanka Tropea, Imperial Master Sommelier at Perino's on Wilshire Boulevard. "I suspect, sadly, the 104 rating is not far off. Followed by a 105."
In Karachi, Pakistan, Uzma Bhutto, sommelier at the Bombay Palace in, curiously, Calcutta ( Kolkata), said she was flabbergasted by the unheard of rating. "103? That's insane. I'd really like to know Silverton's [blood alcohol] level when she gave the score."
William Dithers, professor of wine logistics and logic at Grape Street University, said the uproar over the rating was "absurd and imbecilic."
"Look, Robert Parker and his associates at the Wine Advocate have awarded way more than 400 wines a 100-point rating, " said Dithers, author of the book "2 Trillion Galaxies and Counting; The Sky Has No Limits". "Do you mean to tell me they are all equal? Some of those so-called "perfect wines" have to be better than others. Therefore, Silverton's 103 makes, well, perfect sense."
In 2008, Slate magazine published an article by Mike Steinberger titled "The Greatest Wine on the Planet" about the 1947 Cheval. Check it here; http://www.slate.com/articles/life/drink/2008/02/the_greatest_wine_on_the_planet.html