It’s 40 years since Steven Spurrier’s famous Judgement of Paris (also a story in Greek Mythology). This was the tasting that is credited with opening the way for New World wines to stand as peers alongside the old world classics. Since then, this sort of format has been repeated in countries eager to show that their wines belong at the same table as the famous European benchmarks.
I have just written up the second instalment of the Judgement of BC, where wines from Canada’s British Columbia region were pitted against global benchmarks. A report on the first of these can be found here.
How useful are these comparative blind tastings? I think they are incredibly useful, if they are not taken too seriously. It’s not about which wine wins; it’s about seeing where the wines fit in the global landscape. You wouldn’t expect all tasters to agree on the ranking of the wines: wine is just too complex for this. Even highly trained, expert professionals will disagree, although in the Pinot Noir part of the BC tasting we pretty much all agreed that the Meomi wine was the worst of the bunch.
As a professional, I learn a lot about wines from tasting them blind like this. I also learn a lot about my own palate. Sometimes you rate a wine you like quite a bit quite low in the rankings. For example, I like the Tantalus Old Vines Riesling, but rated it in my bottom position when I tasted it blind. I got another chance to taste it blind last week at the Riesling Rendezvous, where I liked it a bit more but I still didn’t love it. It’s a difficult wine when you encounter it blind.
It’s only by being curious, tasting lots, and banking memories of flavours, smells and textures, that we can develop our palates and get more out of the wines we drink. So any serious taster should seize the opportunity to taste blind like this.