Wine Spectator Refuses to Compromise Blind-Tasting Standard for Bordeaux First-Growths

Reviews of recent releases from the first-growth châteaus of Bordeaux—Lafite Rothschild, Margaux, Haut-Brion, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild—have been conspicuously absent from the pages of Wine Spectator. In a free-ranging discussion between legendary Bordeaux and Napa winemaker Christian Moueix and Wine Spectator editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken, the reasons are laid clear.

During a recent lengthy interview by Shanken for the Nov. 15 issue, Moueix brings up the state of Bordeaux and makes an appeal for continued support for the region from Wine Spectator. But Moueix is also well aware that since 2020 the first-growth châteaus, traditionally regarded as among the best of Bordeaux, have declined to submit their wines to the publication for blind tasting, a standard the magazine holds all wines to in order to avoid bias.

Shanken sums up the impasse: “They used to send us their wines, but now they want us to go to the château to taste their wines, and we tell them we can’t do that because we wouldn’t be tasting blind.”

After reiterating that Bordeaux is important to Wine Spectator readers, Shanken opens the door for reconciliation, saying that “Wine Spectator would love to taste the first-growths of Bordeaux.” However, the magazine’s position is clear and unchanged: “After over 40 years, we’re not going to start to taste wines non-blind. It’s just not going to happen.” More from their unscripted exchange on the topic can be viewed here:

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An In-Depth Video Interview

Moueix’s sit-down with Shanken is the latest in a series of exclusive interviews the publisher has held with wine luminaries he’s known for decades. In recent profiles, he’s spoken with California’s Chuck Wagner of Caymus and Italy’s Angelo Gaja.

The two also discuss Moueix’s family heritage and early years in Bordeaux, where, at the age of just 24, Moueix took the helm of Pétrus. After 38 years of Moueix working and building, his father ultimately gave the iconic estate to Christian’s older brother—a move that startled the wine world, but not Moueix, as he explains. His path forward was to build up the family’s Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix négociant company and its collection of wineries.

Shanken asks Moueix about the rocky start of Dominus, his Napa Valley wine, which debuted with the 1983 vintage. Moueix concedes that he made some mistakes and was embarrassed by his early efforts. Fortunately, the endeavor blossomed. Dominus 2018 was named the Wine Spectator Wine of the Year for 2021.

The two also delve into the price of Bordeaux, Moueix’s favorite wines and his family succession plan. The typically private Moueix seemed pleased with the chance to share his story. “Some of these questions I’ve never answered before,” he says.

“I think people are afraid to ask you,” replies Shanken.

Look for the full text of their interview in the Nov. 15 issue of Wine Spectator and the full video interview at www.winespectator.com/video this fall.