Blind tasting Challenge

Organize a group of wine lovers and a few “Right-Bank” St. Emilion blends and I’ll show up with my wine.  I love tasting and learning with other wine lovers, and it’s not bad when Virage comes out the favorite!

My customers are awesome! The “experts” warned me that sales would be grueling work.  Perhaps since I really have no idea how wine salespeople normally go about it–guess what?  Sales work is FUN.  I spent some time as a wine educator’s assistant, so I just focus on tasting and learning–people who enjoy my wine tend to buy it, but everyone has a great time.

What got me started with private events was an incredible blind tasting organized by my SoCal customer and “wine beserker” Paul.  He invited me to his house (how nice is that!) to join his tasting group, and they set a Right-Bank theme to celebrate our release!  My good friend Chris and I drove on over, no idea what to expect…  While Paul’s wife (who is allergic to wine!) organized a gorgeous dinner, and blind-wrapped the bottles, nine of us tasted and voted for our top three in a single blind contest of two CA cabernet franc blends and four $40-$70 St. Emilions contributed by Paul’s tasting group…

Once again, the “pros” told me, “don’t participate in blind tastings unless you pre-taste the wines.”  Honestly, I don’t have the budget to buy all those wines!

The group was convinced that “Wine #5” was the Troplong Mondot (A grand Cru vineyard in St. Emilion where Aaron Pott once worked)–it was balanced and smooth with a lovely long finish.  That was the hands-down favorite.  Nobody, including me, thought I’d feel bad when a wine of that pedigree came out on top.

A little knowledge can be dangerous –we knew there were two CA wines and indeed two of the wines seemed “bigger” than the rest–hinting at a sunny place of origin.  Interesting, as it turned out, that #3, assumed to be from Napa Valley was actually the T-M.

To our great delight (especially mine) Paul removed the foil mask on each bottle, and voila, “Virage Napa Valley” was wine#5!!  Here is the lineup and vote tally from Paul:


Wine #1 – 1998 Chateau Grand Mayne, St. Emilion, 13% alc. – 17 points (2 first place votes, 2 second place votes, 1 third place vote)

Wine #2 – 2004 Clos Fourtet, St. Emilion, 13.5% alc. – 17 points (2 first place votes, 2 second place votes, 1 third place vote)

Wine #3 – 2001 Chateau Troplong Mondot, St. Emilion, 13.5% alc. – 0 points

Wine #4 – 2004 William Harrison Cabernet Franc, Oakville, 14.5% alc. – 0 points

Wine #5 – 2007 Virage Napa Valley, 14.4% alc. – 22 points (4 first place votes, 2 third place votes)

Wine #6 – 1998 Chateau Beauregard, Pomerol, 13% alc. – 16 points (4 second place votes, 4 third place votes)

It’s worth noting that the aromas swirling from the glass on Wine #2 induced a blissful state of appreciation.  Someone said to many nodding heads, “I could just sit and smell Wine #2 all day.”  A truly engaging bouquet, but the palate and finish didn’t keep up.

Next trip to Los Angeles, two weeks later, Paul suggested dinner at his favorite local restaurant.  He arranged a private dining room, and little did I know we would again be challenged and voting.  Silly me thinking we might just enjoy a nice dinner!  This time he raised the bar, and the Bordeaux contenders were in the $70-$90 range.

To me there was a thread of Right-Bank character consistent in all these wines, and I’m delighted the Virage holds its own so nicely in elegant european company.

So, where’s the next tasting?  I’ve got wine set aside…


About Emily Richer

Investment banker turned right banker.
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1 Response to Blind tasting Challenge

  1. Greg says:

    Love it! Virage beating the pants off of more expensive, more storied competition. I did notice that Virage is the youngest wine in the bunch. I tend to prefer wines younger anyway, and perhaps I’m not the only one. (I like the freshness in younger wines, and so far it seems loss of freshness is not easily compensated by other gains.) So pay waaaaaaay less, and drink Virage a bit younger!

    Interesting Wm. Harrison worked its way into the lineup as I just tried their younger drinking ’07 Simpatico recently. It’s 2/3 Cab S, 1/3 Cab F and built more for drinking early than a typical Cab. It’s no Virage in structure, but is quite nice all the same. Cheers!

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