The Great Wine Berserkers Bordeaux Tasting Challenge

I would like to ask Todd to keep this in Wine Talk for the week for visibility and then move it to Offline Planner

Based on a few threads here on Wineberserkers, and on Mark Squires’ Bulletin Board, several folks have questioned, made comments and made accusations against palates and people that have a great love of all things Bordeaux. I would like to issue a challenge, if you will, to see how some of these people can perform in a most difficult situation…one that has everyone on the same playing field of tasting blindly. Specifically, I would like to invite Jeff Leve to come to Dallas and taste blind with nine other Bordeaux lovers. Below, I will outline what kind of tasting challenge I have in mind. I already ran this by Mr. Manlin, and he thought it a smashing idea (trying to be British like his homey Winston C.).

The Wines:

  1. All will be Bordeaux Rouge
  2. All will be from vintages 1982 to 2003, inclusive. No “off” vintages will be poured.
  3. All will be have a published rating by Robert M. Parker, Jr. in The Wine Advocate as well as at least one other professional critic
  4. All will be rated growths and will not include Bordeaux Superior, Cru Bourgeois, etc.
  5. ABSOLUTELY NO RINGERS will be included in this tasting. No California Cabernet, Sassicaia, Don Melchor, Penfolds Bin 707, etc.
  6. All wines will be sourced from OUTSIDE the tasting panel. This means that nobody sitting down at the table will be privy to anything other than the rules above. I will work on exactly how to do this, but my hope is to have WB members step up and offer wines from their cellars that we can get for this tasting…and of course they will be compensated by the group tasting. More information to follow on this.

    The Tasting:
  7. Ten people that have a demonstrated love and command of Bordeaux will attend
  8. Tasting will be in Dallas, TX as it is basically in the center of CONUS
  9. All wines will be served blind to the tasters with the only knowledge that they fit the criteria above
  10. All wines will be poured for all tasters into the exact same stemware
  11. Wines will be served in three flights of four wines which will be decided upon by random drawing
  12. Wines will be inspected for cork taint by a professional in the wine service industry at time of bottle opening. NO CORKED wines will be served to the tasting panel.
  13. Wines will be place in paper bags, capsules removed and number at random and then re-bagged at random to ensure that nobody knows any wine identity at time of service.
  14. The tasting panel will be asked to assign both quantitative and qualitative ratings, as well pick Right Bank vs. Left Bank, Vintage and Varietal Composition of the wine.
  15. All scoring sheets will be signed by the tasters and collected for assessment. A summary of the tasting notes, scores and other metrics will be posted on WB for all to see.
  16. After the tasting is concluded, the group will discuss the wines individually as they are revealed.
  17. Sparkling and still water will be served as well as neutral crackers and or breads.

After all is said and done, we will have a nice dinner consisting of Flannery products and wines that the group chooses to bring. I am looking to do this in a house of a local wino so that we can control the environment and not run into any corkage issues or time constraints. So, that is it…the big challenge that everyone is waiting for. I know that several people have expressed interest, and I am ready and willing to take charge and make this happen. Of course, the above rules will be a work in progress and we can collectively agree on the final wording.

Interested Parties:
Scott Manlin
Wilfred van Gorp
Serge Birbrair
Chris Kurzner
Dan Posner
Noel Ermitaño
Richard O’Neill

Count me in if you need another taster or to offer a wine and enjoy a dinner afterwards.

Will put you down. I am also reaching out directly to Richie Rich and Collins as I know and trust their respective BDX palates.

See the revised post if you need to insert someone else in the tasting seat.

Chris, we will see how the list of requestors turns out. I don’t want to have this be an all Dallas faction, but rather a broad representation of the country. You are most definitely welcome to taste or contribute a blinded wine and then attend dinner.

Serge, I am making every attempt to get Jeff to come to Dallas for this. I will do my absolute best to ensure that he is truly and honestly welcomed.

As for RMP, not a chance. That isn’t a bash, just the truth.

So, are you down for it knowing the rules?

Is there a date?

Dan, no date as of yet. Will have to work hard on this obviously. I would project in the Fall.

Serge, read the rules carefully. None of the tasting panel will provide a single wine. True blind tasting.

Look interesting, and fair. Much like a GJE tasting, where technically one doesn’t have to name the wine blind, but still write notes about it, have the notes collected (so no changes can be made once the wine is revealed), then reveal the wine.

I like it!!

Serge, I have ZERO worries on sourcing ten wines that match the stated criteria from the WB community.

All they have to be is red, BDX, 1982 to 2003 and rated by RMP. They could be First Growth '82s all the way down to Fifth Growth '95s.

I would like to clarify a point, and I will change it above…I would like to source good to exceptional vintages as a few in there produced no really good wines, and in all fairness, I don’t want to serve and inherently bad wine.

I am interested, if you will allow me.

Can you place nicely with others?

Since I’m way too inexperienced for this, can I just come watch?

We will have to see what the logistics and venue allows.

If this will take place in the fall, there is a very good chance I can make it. I would like to join this event if that is possible. We often do this type of tasting and I am quite familiar and comfortable with the rules.

I must caution, however, that although I see a very good chance I can make this, due to my profession, there is always a possibility that I may have to back out suddenly. If you are willing to accept me as a participant despite that, I would be most appreciative - but if not, I’ll be happy to read the outcome anyway.



Noel, I’ll put you down for sure.

If you cannot make it, I am certain we can get a replacement rather quickly.

Sounds fun now!

I might have to head out there and watch if Noel’s coming from way out yonder! I’m sure there will be supporting festivities surrounding the ‘main event’…

I am thinking meet & greet at the local BYOB pizza joint at the very least…and of course, the requisite trip to the gun range.

Thank you, Bill. I very much look forward to this.

I assumed you’d attend in any event, Todd. What? The WB founder not be present in a WB tasting such as this? ¡No puede ser!

Wine then shooting? Never did that before. Is that allowed even in Texas?

Kidding aside, I’ve been to a few shooting ranges, but the last time was several years ago. I’m comfortable with an old 1911 Gold Cup, but not really anything else.