Friday, March 22, 2013

Shocking results and how we should never judge a wine by its name

Some of the drinkers last night...

Moral of the story from last night's Bordeaux 2009 wine tasting at the Sofitel: you can't really tell a wine by it's brand.

There we were in a private room of the Sofitel.

We were about 40 people in all: 36 men and 4 women. It was the meeting of the men's chapter of an international wine and food society, so the 4 women present -- including myself -- were just guests of members.

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At hand was a very serious wine tasting activity: we had 10 good Bordeaux wines from the excellent 2009 vintage to taste, rank and possibly identify over a period of 90 minutes.

We had tasting notes before us, though, so we did know what the ten wines were. We also knew more or less which of these were the top-ranked wines.


Most of us did our homework before arriving, so we knew that Robert Parker had rated two of the wines especially highly:  the Château Lynch-Bages Cinquième Cru Classé (Pauillac) and the Château Giscours Troisièmes Cru Classé (Margaux). 

Of course, we were all looking forward to these two wines in particular, and it was a rather fun guessing game to try and see which of our ten glasses would yield these two prized wines.


In the room last night were some of the best noses and most serious wine drinkers in the country. Not everyone fit into this category, but perhaps half the room did.

To make things simpler, we were all asked to choose our top three wines -- and it was understood, I guess, that the top three wines would also be the most highly-rated wines of the lot.


Interestingly, there wasn't much dissension when the voting finally took place at the end of the tasting.

Almost no one chose the #1 tasting wine as among the top 3, and many people picked #6, #9 and #10 for their top 3 -- myself included.

There was also general consensus in the room that the first flight of wines -- we were served five glasses at a time, in two flights to total 10 glasses -- was of a lesser grade than the second flight of wines.

The view of the wine-tasting and dinner
from the mirrored ceiling.
I took this photo from my seat.

As the guy seated next to me said last night, before the results were announced: "The first flight was rubbish. The second flight had the good wines."

In other words, we all thought that most of the really good wines were in the second batch.


When we had all voted for our choices, we adjourned for snacks while the society officers tallied up the votes. As they finished up, some of them were already muttering something about shocking results.

But when the results were actually announced, it would be an understatement to say that the shock was 10 times greater.

The much-touted #1 wine in the lot, the Chateau Lynch-Bages Cinquieme Cru Classe (Pauillac), came in last. No one voted for it at all.


What a fun and interesting evening.

And just goes to show what branding and packaging can do, even in a never-endingly eventful Travelife.

The wines included in the blind-tasting last night:

Château d'Agassac Cru Bourgeois Supérieur Haut-Médoc 
Château Bernadotte Cru Bourgeois Supérieur Haut-Médoc 
Château Monbrison Cru Bourgeois Supérieur Margaux 
Château Siran Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel Margaux 
Château Croizet-Bages Cinquième Cru Classé Pauillac 
Château Lynch-Bages Cinquième Cru Classé Pauillac 
Château Talbot Quatrièmes Cru Classé Saint-Julien 
Château Giscours Troisièmes Cru Classé Margaux 
Château La Lagune Troisièmes Cru Classé Haut-Médoc 
Château Léoville Barton Deuxièmes Cru Classé Saint-Julien


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