Blind tasting in Burgundy

In July I found myself in the glass fronted tasting room of the Winery Colbert owned by the historic Maison Albert Bichot. It’s my first trip to Burgundy and thankfully I’m with experts. Six of my travelling companions are studying to be Masters of Wine and the other Richard Hemming MW has already passed. Our guide, Richard Bampfield MW is pouring five unknown wines for each of us. We know they are five whites from the same vintage. The challenge is to order them in terms of quality and reason what they are.

Blind tasting is either an art or a parlour trick, depending on who you ask. For Bichot, the risk is that we can’t see the difference, undermining the diversity of Burgundy’s terroir or a wine’s ability to show it. For experts, the risk is being exposed as amateurs or fools. I sense I am slightly more relaxed than they are, I already know I’m an amateur.

We sip, spit and scribble. A good taster’s first instinct is probably right, but my second instinct is self-doubt. To my right Richard Hemming MW has already finished, written two articles for Purple Pages and composed a little ditty on clonal selection.

Thankfully, the wines show themselves and our assessments are pretty good. A Domaine du Pavillon Meursault 2014 shows hallmark great charm and opulence. A little known appellation, St Romain, produces a real surprise with great length and freshness. I can’t place what turns out to be a Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches 2014 still hiding in itself,  but the real experts argue for its potential.

I would later spend some time with Richard Hemming trying to come up with some Burgundy puns. The idea hasn’t Corton. Honestly, that’s the best we came up with.


Update: We are bringing the blind burgundy experience to you on the 19th of September in Dublin’s Drury Buildings. Strictly limited to 30 places. Contact for more details and to book your spot.