Three extraordinary wine-tasting feats

There are many stories told of seemingly super-human feats where experts identify blind-tasted wines. No doubt many are apocryphal: truly exceptional tasting events are relatively rare. Here are three memorable, and true, tasting stories.

Tom Carson (Photo: Heathcote Wine Hub website)

Domaine de la Yabby

There have been many impressive performances at the Len Evans Tutorials which would have impressed even the great man himself – whose palate memory was legendary. But Tom Carson’s feat at the second tutorial in 2002 (which he duxed) is probably the stand-out. He correctly identified the six Domaine de la Romanée-Conti grand cru vineyards* blind, a feat that was all the more impressive as every wine was from a different vintage. Carson is the winemaker at Yabby Lake on the Mornington Peninsula and a highly experienced wine show judge and chairman.

*La Tâche, Richebourg, Echézeaux, Grands-Echézeaux, Romanée-St-Vivant and Romanée-Conti itself.

Richard Juhlin (Photo: Via Vinsider website)

Not just froth and bubble

The Swedish wine author and Champagne specialist Richard Juhlin qualifies as a champion identifier of wine. At a competitive blind tasting in 2003, Juhlin recognized 43 out of 50 Champagnes served to him. He identified the brand, producer and vintage for each. This was a rare feat of tasting skill. The second place-getter only managed four. Moreover, Juhlin also managed to identify the vintages of the seven wines he missed.

*Click here to see an article about the tasting

Steven Spurrier (Photo: Circle of Wine Writers website)

One giant spit for mankind

The ‘Judgment of Paris’ occurred in 1976 when English wine retailer Steven Spurrier – frustrated by the Old World’s refusal to acknowledge the quality of New World wines — staged a competitive blind tasting between top Californian wines and their much more famous French counterparts, included Châteaux Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion. The Californians won, shocking the wine establishment. A book has been written and a film made about it. Some claimed the French wines were too young and would smash the Americans in time, so the exercise was repeated 30 years later. Again, California won.

*click here to see Huon’s SMH story ‘The judgement of Paris, reprised’ from 2006

One thought on “Three extraordinary wine-tasting feats”

  1. Huon Hooke
    Huon Hooke says:

    A footnote to the Len Evans Tutorial feat: Simon Curkovic also ‘aced’ the DRC tasting in the 2008 tutorial, although his feat was slightly less challenging as all six wines were from the same vintage, 2005.

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