This past Saturday, 16 May, marked a milestone for In Vino Veritas. We earned first place at the Défi de Bacchus national wine tasting competition in Lyon. The venue was the majestic and historical Cours des Loges in Vieux Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I represented the Sciences Po team at the competition, along with Philippe-Alexandre Bernatchez (IVV President), Mathilde Renoir (Phil’s girlfriend), and Mathieu Guibard (IVV executive member). Things started off a little shaky, as our intended fifth member had to drop out at the last moment, since his girlfriend (now ex) pulled the classic long distance telephone breakup call from Mexico. Lesson learned—don’t allow your girlfriend to participate in a foreign exchange program in Mexico. However the attempted shake up of our team was unsuccessful and we quickly regrouped, one man down. Sorry but I can’t help but embellish a bit.
So back to the competition. Défi de Bacchus is in its eighth year, first organized in 2002 by Sup’ de Coteaux, the wine club at EM Lyon Business School. Sup’ de Coteaux is one of the oldest student wine clubs in France, dating back to 1987, managing an annual budget of 30,000 euros. I must say, my hats off to this year’s president Arnaud Duret and his 20 active members for putting together an excellent, competitive and also very convivial event.
This year’s Patron of Honor was Antoine Pétrus, Sommelier at Les Ambassadeurs restaurant at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris. Antoine’s accomplishments include—Silver Medal, 2008 Best Sommelier in France; 2008 Sommelier of the Year; 2007 Ruinart Trophy, Best Young Sommelier in France; and Co-Author of Le Vin Décrypté. Everyone was quite impressed with Antoine’s breadth of knowledge and very interactive and non-pretentious approach to wine.
The program included a first round of blind tastings (3 whites and 3 reds from any region in the world, with a clear emphasis on France, however one surprise was dropped in), followed by a cocktail, an extravagant 4-course French dinner, and ending with the grande finale blind tasting of 2 wines, between the top three teams. Competing in the overall competition were ten five-member university teams and ten five-member corporate teams. The format was quite intense and fast paced. Each team was given 7 minutes per wine. A formal written analysis had to be completed, guided by two pages of roughly 20 questions, relating to visual, olfactory, and palate characteristics. Additionally a complete Sommelier pairing and serving suggestion had to be submitted. And finally each group had to guess the varietal, region, appellation, vintage and producer.
By the time round one was over, we were emotionally exhausted, but I think we were quite confident in our performance as a team. However, certainly we had no clue as to how we would fair, compared to the other 19 teams. When the three finalists were announced and we were among the list, I think we were ready to go. However, I don’t think anyone expected us to nail down the varietal, region, appellation, vintage and producer of the final red. Antoine Petrus was in shock. It just so happened that Phil and Mathieu had tasted the exact wine 2 weeks prior at a tasting in Paris.
So a little bit of luck, a lot of tasting and a lot of hard work, and voilà, Sciences Po In Vino Veritas took the Gold!
Here’s a gastronomic and bibulous breakdown of the event …
2007 Domaine Ott, “Cuvée Clos Mireille Blanc de Blancs”, Côtes de Provence ($46 @ Winezap.com)
2007 Maison Ramos Pinto, “Duas Quintas Douro Blanc”, Verdelho
2005 Domaine Michel Redde, “Cuvée Majorum”, Pouilly-Fumé (31€ @ Snooth.com)
2005 Domaine des Clos, “Les Avaux”, Beaune Premier Cru
2003 Chateau Peyrabon, “Cru Bourgeois”, Haut-Medoc (12€ @ Snooth.com)
2007 Maison Chapoutier, “Chateau des Estubiers”, Coteaux du Tricastin
Maison Louis Roederer, “Brut Premier”, Champagne ($47 / WS 88)
Foie gras poelé, miette de canard truffé (seared foie gras with black truffles)
Wine: 2006 Domaine Rémy Gresser, “Wiebelsberg”, Riesling Grand Cru
Pigeonneau farci à la truffe noir (black truffle stuffed pigeon)
Wine: 2000 Maison Chapoutier, “Les Granits”, Saint Joseph ($89 / WS 89)
Assiette de fromage affinés (French cheese platter)
Wine: 2008 Domaine Vincent Pinard, “Cuvée Florès”, Sancerre
Moelleux aux citron confits, glace au pain d’épices (sugar glazed citrus fruit with ice cream and pastry)
Wine: 2005 Domaine des Baumard, “Carte d’Or”, Coteaux du Layon ($22 / WS 92)
2007 Maison Chapoutier, Saint Péray (10€ @ Snooth.com)
2001 Chateau Phélan Ségur, “Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel”, Saint-Estèphe (50€ @ Snooth.com)
1st Place Prizes:
1998 Chateau d’Yquem ($250 / WS 89)
One case, 2004 Chateau Lagrange, Saint-Julien Grand Cru Classé ($21 / WS 89)
2005 Paul Jaboulet Aîné, “Les Jalets”, Crozes-Hermitage ($23 / WS 88)
2005 Chateau Mont-Redon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($44 / WS 87)