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On Tasting
The Differences of Opinion Continue: Mount Mary Quintets vs. Robert M. Parker Jr. Part 2
Monday, 5th December, 2005  - David Farmer

Robert M. Parker Jnr

The recent attack on the Mount Mary Quintets by Robert M. Parker Jr. in his Wine Advocate (see our story Sharp Differences of Opinion Over Mount Mary) set us off looking for other reviews of this wine. Parker concluded that "it is difficult to understand what merit these wines possess" and reckoned that only one vintage he tasted deserved more than 80 points.

An old Winestate review we looked at begged to differ, giving the Quintets 1990 five stars. With no other archived reviews on the Winestate website we moved our search to Winewise and found nothing. Jeremy Oliver, who publishes the Australian Wine Annual, gave us the first comprehensive scores of many vintages. Because we did not sign up for the latest notes from his website we have culled scores from older Wine Annuals, mostly the 2003 and 2004 publications. These give the scores as follows: 1986 scored 18.8/20; 1988 scored 19.2/20; 1994 scored 19/20; 2000 scored 19.4/20; and the 2001 scored 19.2/20. Anyway that is enough to show us that Jeremy Oliver is a big fan of the Mount Mary Quintets and on the Parker scale of measuring wines out of 100 these wines come in at 94 to 97.

We then explored a U.K site run by Tom Cannavan, wine-pages.com, who thought the 2001 vintage showed ‘tremendously impressive first glimpses’ while the 1986, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994 were all called ‘very good indeed’.

We cannot weigh into this debate with personal knowledge as it is over a decade since a Quintet was consumed although back then it left a favourable impression. Stronger memories exist of two visits to Mount Mary that were made to find out what was going on and leaving each time in a most relaxed mood. We have always found the good Dr. John Middleton a most agreeable host.

A few weeks ago James Halliday, a noted wine author and Australian and International judge of wine, addressed the Wine Press Club of N.S.W. with the topic, ‘Thank You Mr. Evans and Sorry Mr. Parker’. In this address is the following passage, ‘I also clearly wish he [Parker] had blind tasted the 1990 and 1996 Quintets at the Len Evans Tutorials [held in November, 2005] (in the company of great Bordeaux blends from around the world) which were consistently rated near the top by the 16 tutors and scholars (without any discussion).’

It is apparent that many critics, plus, as our first article discussed, the buyers and sellers through the Australian wine auction system, disagree with the view expressed by Parker. Normally you could leave differences of opinion like this by concluding that nothing can be resolved and the tasters ‘agree to disagree’. What makes this squabble so interesting is the large profile of the personalities involved and this makes it worth digging deeper to see why they disagree so markedly. This debate will continue.

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