Monday, August 21, 2006

The Great Chateau Julien “Merlot Challenge” by (PB)

Increasingly wineries; shippers, producers and importers are tapping into the new generation of blog savvy customers. To that end, we at the Wine Cask blog (eighth ranked wine blog of the top 100 for 2006) periodically receive complementary bottles of wine for tasting and review on our blog.

Patterning this challenge after the Pepsi-challenge of the soda world, the folks at Ch. Julien sent us a bottle of their 2003 Merlot and a bottle of their leading competitor Blackstone 2003 Merlot. I assume the price point for each of these Merlots is essentially the same which I would put in the under $10 category.

(NW) and I happened to take the challenge together since he was up for the weekend. Here is the way the challenge was set up. We had 8 glasses set up in front of each of us in three flights.

The first consisted of two glasses marked A and B, the second and third flights consisted of three glasses marked A,B, and C. My wife did the set up and pouring of wine. It was purely blind and (NW) and I could not see what each other was doing. The instruction for the challenge had us taste each flight and simply choose the wine we preferred from each flight.

We took the challenge with perfect consistency as far as knowing which wines were the same wine in each flight and yet (NW) and I each had opposite conclusions as to which one we preferred.

The set up of the challenge was unique and did a good job in validating the consistency–or lack thereof--in the tasters preference and ability to discern each wine’s attributes.

The results? I chose Blackstone’s Merlot each time and also identified the one I preferred with 100% consistency across the challenge. In other words, in the two flights with three glasses of wine, two were Blackstone in one flight and two were Ch. Julien in the other flight.

Interestingly, (NW) preferred the Ch.Julien and chose it with 100% consistency in the various flight. (NW) will be blogging his results as well–be sure to read his notes on the challenge!

Here is what this shows: In the realm of objective tasting, (NW) and I had essentially the same review of the characteristics of each wine. But when it came to which wine we each preferred–the subjective aspect of wine tasting–I chose one, (NW) the other. Meaning, we taste wine the same but have different preferences in what we like. As I have written numerous times in this blog, there are objective elements to what makes a good wine, a “good wine,” but at the end of the day, it all comes down to what YOU like!

What is also interesting is that (NW) and I both said, that while we preferred one wine over the other, neither Merlot was the type we would seek out.

Kudos to the folks at Ch. Julien for their boldness in this type of testing and double kudos for realizing the power and economy of tapping into the world wide blogosphere! Daily we have people from just about every continent around the globe checking out what we have to say about wine. You just can’t afford to get that kind of coverage advertising! In the days to come, I hope to publish the results St. Julien derives from this unique endeavor. Raise a glass!

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