France Again Wins World Blind Wine Tasting Challenge in 2020; Did US, Russia Field Teams After All?

image from La Revue‘s Facebook page of the preliminary rankings

According to the World Blind Wine Tasting Championship organizers La Revue du Vin de France,  the team from France once again placed first in this year’s competition which took place yesterday, 10/10/2020 at Château Smith Haut-Lafitte in Bordeaux, France.

With a formidable lead after the first round of eight wines with 142 points, France held on to place first for the second year in a row, and China stayed in second place after the second round.

At bedtime (just after midnight on Sun.  Oct. 11, 2020), I don’t know the ranking for the the remaining spots, but someone said they thought Sweden came in third. (I will update this when I get the results or perhaps someone will post in the comments.) 

“The brilliant winners, the psychoanalyst Éric Bordas, the air traffic controllers Emmanuel Olive and Christophe Boyet and the trader François Breteau, regional of the stage as well as their coach Vincent Mercier, retired school teacher, follow one another since the French had been sacred in 2019, at the Château de Chambord,” writes Par Pauline Vey in La Revue. “This victory illustrates the progress of French tasters, long struggling during international tastings of foreign wines.”

You can imagine my surprise to see that teams from both Russia and the USA showed up on the list of final teams when in my most recent reporting, I said neither country would field a team. For Team USA this is their highest placement since they earned third in 2016. When I learn who was on the team, I will add their names. 

This year, organizers planned for the competition to have two stages as I explained here. Tasters sampled eight wines, and the top ten teams moved on to the next stage with four more wines.

While last year 30 teams competed, in 2020, there were only 18, so eight teams were eliminated. Looking at the list of the teams who advanced, I was surprised to see that teams from both Russia and the USA showed up on the list of final teams when in my most recent reporting, I said neither country would field a team. It’s my understanding that organizers were able to find four Americans already in France who could compete for Team USA. Perhaps Russia did the same.

So what did they taste? All 18 teams sampled the first eight wines (English follows):

Les vins dégustés

Vin N°1 :
Cépage principal : Chardonnay
Pays : France
Appellation : Champagne
Producteur : Ayala
Millésime : 2013

Vin N°2 :
Cépage principal : Chasselas
Pays : Suisse
Appellation : Vetroz
Producteur : Cave des tilleuls
Millésime : 2015

Vin N°3 :
Cépage principal : Chardonnay
Pays : France
Appellation : Meursault
Producteur : Buisson Charles
Millésime : 2012

Vin N°4 :
Cépage principal : Corvina 70%, Rondinella 17%, Molinara 3%
Pays : Italie
Appellation : Amarone della Valpolicella
Producteur : La Dama
Millésime : 2015

Vin N°5 :
Cépage principal : Cabernet sauvignon 50%, syrah 50%
Pays : Australie
Appellation :
Producteur : Penfolds
Millésime : 2018

Vin N°6 :
Cépage principal : Grenache
Pays : France
Appellation : Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Producteur : La Janasse Chaupin
Millésime : 2000

Vin N°7 :
Cépage principal : Tempranillo 95%, grenache 5%
Pays : Espagne
Appellation : Ribera del Duero
Producteur : Picaro del Aguila
Millésime : 2017

Vin N°8 :
Cépage principal : Riesling
Pays : Allemagne
Appellation : Moselle
Producteur : Van Volxem
Millésime : 2018

Then after a break, the top 10 teams tasted these four wines:

Vin N°9 :
Cépage principal : Chardonnay
Pays : Nouvelle Zélande
Appellation : Martinborough
Producteur : Ata Rangi
Millésime : 2016

Vin N°10 :
Cépage principal : Pinot noir
Pays : États-Unis
Appellation : Santa Cruz Mountains
Producteur : Lilo Vineyard
Millésime : 2014

Vin N°11 :
Cépage principal : Merlot 70%, cabernet franc 30%
Pays : France
Appellation : Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
Producteur : Valandraud
Millésime : 2011

Vin N°12 :
Cépage principal : Scheurebe
Pays : Autriche
Appellation : Burgenland
Producteur : NekowitschMillésime : 1998

The wines in the competition seemed easier this year to me than last (see the list from 2019 here) with a few surprises like wine 2 and 12 for me, and that they tasted three Chardonnay, one from Champagne, one from Meursault, and a third from New Zealand. Even if I was sure the third wine was Chardonnay, I would have doubted myself knowing we’d already identified two other wines as being made from that grape. 

I think competitors this year also found it easier–last year France won with 112 points and China came in second with 103 points.

So how do you think you would have done blind tasting these 12 wines to detemine the grape, their country of origin, their region, the producer, and the vintage?

Here they are in English according to Google Translate:

The wines tasted

Wine N ° 1:
Main grape: Chardonnay
Country: France
Appellation: Champagne
Producer: Ayala
Vintage: 2013

Wine N ° 2:
Main grape variety: Chasselas
Swiss country
Designation: Vetroz
Producer: Cave des tilleuls
Vintage: 2015

Wine N ° 3:
Main grape: Chardonnay
Country: France
Appellation: Meursault
Producer: Buisson Charles
Vintage: 2012

Wine N ° 4:
Main grape: Corvina 70%, Rondinella 17%, Molinara 3%
Country: Italy
Designation: Amarone della Valpolicella
Producer: La Dama
Vintage: 2015

Wine N ° 5:
Main grape: Cabernet sauvignon 50%, syrah 50%
Country: Australia
Name:
Producer: Penfolds
Vintage: 2018

Wine N ° 6:
Main grape: Grenache
Country: France
Appellation: Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Producer: La Janasse Chaupin
Vintage: 2000

Wine N ° 7:
Main grape: Tempranillo 95%, Grenache 5%
Country: Spain
Designation: Ribera del Duero
Producer: Picaro del Aguila
Vintage: 2017

Wine N ° 8:
Main grape: Riesling
Country: germany
Designation: Moselle
Producer: Van Volxem
Vintage: 2018

Wine N ° 9:
Main grape: Chardonnay
Country: New Zealand
Designation: Martinborough
Producer: Ata Rangi
Vintage: 2016

Wine N ° 10:
Main grape: Pinot noir
Country: United States
Designation: Santa Cruz Mountains
Producer: Lilo Vineyard
Vintage: 2014

Wine N ° 11:
Main grape: Merlot 70%, cabernet franc 30%
Country: France
Appellation: Saint-Émilion Grand Cru
Producer: Valandraud
Vintage: 2011

Wine N ° 12:
Main grape: Scheurebe
Country: Austria
Designation: Burgenland
Producer: Nekowitsch Vintage: 1998
 

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