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Which wine critics move the market?

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Esteemed wine critic Robert Parker is arguably leader in the field, but since his retirement earlier this year the industry has been rife with speculation as to his ‘replacement’. As Liv-ex asks: “Will there be an heir to Parker’s throne, or will a system based on consensus or average scores emerge as the market’s new barometer of wine quality in Bordeaux?”

In considering this question, Liv-ex has measured the correlation between the scores of four top critics – Robert Parker, James Suckling, Neal Martin and Jean-Marc Quarin – on the prices of the last 10 physical vintages of Bordeaux First Growths.

Speaking to the drinks business, Liv-ex analyst Greg Smart explained that the chart above “shows a statistical measure known as ‘R-squared’ or the ‘coefficient of determination’. The left hand axis shows the percentage of total variation in price that can be attributed to variations in individual critic scores.

“It suggests that Parker scores still have more influence on prices than other critics. However, this might change over time following Parker’s retirement. There are a number of caveats including the direction of causation (i.e. scores might also be influenced by prices) and critic scores may be correlated with each other.”

Indeed, Parker continues to hold the greatest sway despite his retirement, but as these findings indicate, other critics – especially Martin and Suckling – are not far behind in the influence stakes.

As Liv-ex notes: “Brand, vintage quality and age are also likely to influence fine wine prices. In addition, there may be issues with the direction of causation in our analysis, with scores perhaps being influenced by prices – blind tastings apart – or being correlated with each other. It will be interesting to observe how the market eventually choses its successor to Parker Points.”

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