Without any cue how difficult do you answer correctly on blind tasting? Oh dear, it is supper difficult for sure. For WSET Diploma unit3 tasting exam their question is categorised like wines are from cool climate, same grape variety from different regions or different grape varieties from same region…However even though I can not answer wrongly….
My friends and I joined in Hong Kong International Top Tasters (HITT) Blind Tasting competition 2016 which answer grape variety, origin, vintage, price and aromas of 12wines within 1hour as team. There is no cue at all, wines are from all over the world. We expected classic regions and grape varieties due to last year’s wine list. How was it this year? Well, there were quite classic and basic regions and grape varieties again, although we could not answer correctly all. Here is 12 wines to be served.
1. 2015 Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc, Ken Forrester Vineyards, from Stellenbosch in South Africa
2. 2014 Mâcon-Azé, Domaine de La Garenne, from Mâconnais in Burgundy, France
3. 2011 Pinot Gris Calcaire, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, from Turckheim in Haut-Rhin, Alsace
4. 2013 Merlot, Chateau Ste Michelle from Columbia Valley in Washington, USA
5. 2012 Marlborough Pinot Noir, Churton, from Marlborough in New Zealand
6. 2005 Gran Reserva 904, La Rioja Alta, from Rioja Alta in Rioja, Spain
7. 2009 Herencia Carmenère, Santa Carolina, from Peumo and Los Lingues in Chile
8. 2012 Old Vine Grenache, Yangarra Estate Vineyard, from McLaren Vale in South Australia
9. 2010 Château Pedesclaux, Cru Classé, from Pauillac in Bordeaux, France
10. 2013 Cayas, Syrah du Valais AOC “Réserve”, Jean-René Germanier from Valais, Switzerland
11. 2014 Gran Reserva Malbec, Finca el Origen from Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina
12. 2007 Barbaresco DOCG Pajoré, Rizzi from Barbaresco in Piemonte, Italy
Well, we answered only a few wines perfectly like #3 Pinot Gris, #12 Barbaresco! We had good knowledge for old world classic regions. On the other hand I realised I myself was not enough to detect new world wines like carmenere, grenache and malbec. For price of #7 carmenere and #8 grenache, the first was $598 and the later was $500. I did not taste premium line of those varieties, which was definitely lack of training. Also I could find Syrah from old world where is moderate to cool climate because its body was not powerful enough and restrained style, but in my mind Switzerland was totally disappeared. All wines showed typicity like grape variety, region well, but like swiss syrah it is not well known area and difficult to find it in Hong Kong, which definitely it is considered as good wine production area. We had to know and answer such kind of products. After finished diploma exam, I did not continue to study seriously and admitted to drink my favourite wines most of time. Oh dear, I have to taste all wines widely from all over the world.
As conclusion, with or without cue how can you improve your blind tasting skill? The answer is to train for tasting and study theory. “Theory”. It is very important! Once finished diploma exam, honestly I did not care theory well, but I realised theory could help a lot on tasting situation. This is basically same as any wine study including WSET or further exam like Master of wine. People who want to step forward, they tent to do more advance but struggle…If you are in this situation, recall principal golden rule, ” back to foundation and build strongly”. It is important to build in both tasting and theory! Well, now I start all over again….