On Wednesday the 28th Phil, President of In Vino Veritas, invited over a few friends from IVV and their alumni group Millésimes, for a private blind tasting. On the agenda the main objective was practice and preparation for the upcoming 2009 blind tasting competitions. There are many student competitions throughout France I am sure, but In Vino Veritas at Sciences Po participated in two last year. The first is organized by Pol Roger, which hosts the semi-finals in February in Paris and the finals in June, matching up the best teams from the French cities of Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Lille, alongside Oxford and Cambridge. The second competition is Vin/20, which holds its semi-finals in April and the finals in June in Bordeaux. This competition is organized by the Commanderie du Bon Temps du Médoc, des Graves, de Sauternes et de Barsac and is hosted by the Baron himself (Éric de Rothschild) at Châtaeu Lafite Rothschild. The competition is strictly focused on blind tasting Left Bank Bordeaux, with participants asked to identify the commune and the vintage. Cambridge won the grand prize last year. In fact both Cambridge and Oxford are known for having very strong teams and are given a free ride to the finals every year. However, the schools in France must first to go through a preliminary qualifying round in order to be invited to the finals in Bordeaux. Additionally, adding a third competition to the mix, this year In Vino Veritas is organizing it’s own Sciences Po International Tasting (SPIT). Gotta love the name! The details are pending but the competition will be hosted by Bollinger in Aÿ on April 25th and schools from around France and abroad will be invited. Ya’ll might be interested to know that in addition to food, housing, and transportation being covered for all participants for all three competitions, the prizes given out are pretty remarkable, including wine trips, cases of Grand Cru old vintage wine, and rare double magnum bottles, including 1985 Lafite for example.
Let me make a quick call out to Phil for any corrections on the details behind these competitions, because this is the real deal and can get pretty intense, although a hell of a lot of fun as well. And certainly In Vino Veritas is in it to win this year. So the best of luck to Phil and the team at IVV! Unfortunately I will be out of the country during this year’s first competition; however, I look forward to maybe having the opportunity to participate in 2010.
So back to our blind tasting practice round at Phil’s place. There were about 7 of us and each person brought a specially selected bottle meant to be representative of a particular region. There was no method to the madness, other than the general requisite that all bottles had to be from France. Again our goal was to identify region, varietals, and vintage. So we were off, tasting a flight of 9 bottles, 5 whites and 4 reds, tasting notes listed below.
2005 Domaine de la Pinte, Arbois-Pupillin “Viandries”
Appellation: Arbois, Jura
Tasting Notes: Aromas of almond and banana. A balanced acidity in the mouth with flavors of nuts, almonds, orange and hazlenut.
2007 René Carroi
Appellation: Sancerre, Loire
Varietal: sauvignon blanc
Tasting Notes: Minerality, floral notes and apple on the nose. A nice acidity in the mouth with flavors of lemon, orange and general citrus throughout.
2005 Eurl Thierry Puzelat
Appellation: Touraine, Loire
Varietal: sauvignon blanc
Tasting Notes: Mild oxidation on the nose with aromas of almond, pineapple and fleshy white tropical fruit, followed by subtle fig and dates. A light wine with flavors of orange, apple, white peach and dates.
2005 Domaine du Closel, Château des Vaults “Clos du Papillon”
Appellation: Savennières, Loire
Varietal: chenin blanc
Tasting Notes: Citrus and very subtle creaminess on the nose. A blanced wine with flavors of peach, apple, orange and orange zest and very faint cream.
WS 94 (vintage 2004): Big wine, but with excellent definition and purity, this sports ginger powder, unsalted butter, white peach, honeysuckle and persimmon notes. Nice bracing finish has a hint of bitter almond. Drink now through 2012. 300 cases imported. –JM
2004 Domaine Ostertag Muenchberg
Appellation: Alsace Grand Cru
Varietal: pinot gris
Tasting Notes: Pineapple and floral aromas. Light and citric in the mouth with an orange finish.
2001 Château Cap de Mourlin Grand Cru
Appellation: Saint-Emlion, Bordeaux
Blend: 65% merlot, 25% cabernet franc, 10% cabernet sauvignon
Tasting Notes: Aromas of vegetable, rocks, earth, blackberries and plums. Strong tannins but with a balanced acidity and flavors of blackberries and blueberries.
2006 P. Corbineau “La Croiy Foucher”
Appellation: Touraine, Loire
Varietal: cabernet franc
Tasting Notes: Green pepper, olive, and pronounced cherry aromas. Well balanced with flavors of cherry, and blueberry.
2004 Château des Tours Reserve
Appellation: Côtes-du-Rhone, Rhone
Blend: 65%, 20% syrah, 15% cinsault
Tasting Notes: Floral, blueberry and Coca-Cola aromas. Flavors of blueberry, plums and milk chocolate, followed by meaty flavors and texture.
WS 86: A spicy style, with coffee and mocha notes leading the way for fig and blackberry fruit, followed by a soft, fleshy finish. Drink now. 4,165 cases made. –JM
2006 Yannick Amirault “Les Quartiers”
Appellation: Bourgueil, Loire
Varietal: cabernet franc
Tasting Notes: Aromas of violets, olives and cloves. In the mouth there is dark chocolate, cherry, blueberry and leather.
WS 92: A dark, grippy red from France’s Loire Valley, with charcoal, mesquite, roasted fig, dark olive and mineral notes coursing through while a backdrop of plum sauce and toast waits in reserve. The structured, mouthfilling finish drips with fruit and mouthwatering olive notes. Best from 2009 through 2017. 821 cases made. –JM
NV Alvear Pedro Ximenez “1927 solera”
Appellation: Jerez, Spain
Varietal: pedro ximenez
Tasting Notes: A nutty nose with intensely syrupy sweet flavors and almonds on the palate.
Pairing: Pour this over vanilla ice cream and you won’t regret it!
Note: This glass wasn’t part of the blind tasting practice but rather was just a nice casual closure to the night, while talking with Phil about education and healthcare in Canada (he’s from Quebec).
WS 92: Menthol and prune aromas and flavors highlight this intense, sweet dessert wine. It exhibits plenty of brightness and complexity, ending with butterscotch and bitter chocolate notes. Nicely put together. Drink now. 300 cases imported. –BS
Well after 2 months of what has been the most organizationally and emotionally crazy roller coaster that I can remember, FINALLY the end objective has been met. So what the hell am I talking about? I’m going to South Korea and Japan for 10 days! Miki San will be hosting me and a few friends in Tokyo and Gom will be hosting us in Seoul. I won’t go into all of the drama and what would have made for an amazingly successful reality TV show, but let’s just say we’ve been through absolute ecstacy and jubliation and absolute devastation and tears from one moment to the next, throughout the whole trip planning process, which was made so difficult since we were presented with the challenge of planning such a trip in tandem with a 2-week study trip to China (Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an) that will immediately follow. Wow that was a long sentence! Unfortunately we had to deal with one of the worst travel agencies I’ve come across in my life as well as many last second straight-out-of-left field decisions and changes from our program’s administration.
Anyways, the point is, we’re going! Departing on Finnair tomorrow the 30th. And although this will be a whirlwind tour, I certainly plan to post about regional wine while I’m adventuring through East Asia. I’ll be back in Paris on the 22nd of February.