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.
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.
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.
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.