Monday, June 22, 2009

Where's Aldo?

One of the highlights of my weekend at the Food & Wine Classic at Aspen was the blind tasting seminar I conducted in conjunction with Aldo Sohm, the deeply knowledgeable and articulate World Champ Sommelier and Wine Director of Le Bernardin in New York (depicted above holding his winner's hardware.)

I had been inspired to put together the tasting after reading a study made by the American Association of Wine Economists that found (after many tastings over quite a bit of time) that only experts actually appreciated expensive wine.

I put together eight wines - all excellent examples- served in pairs. Aldo and I challenged the crowd to name which wines, tasted blind, they thought were cheap and which wines were expensive. "Don't say cheap," Aldo admonished me at one point. "We never say cheap at Le Bernardin." I don't doubt that.

The wines we tasted included a lively 2007 Jadot Macon Villages ($15); a richer and oakier 2006 Jadot Puligny Montrachet ($50); a deliciously bright 2007 Domaine de la Janasse Cotes du Rhone ($15) and the brooding 2006 Domaine de la Janasse Chaupin ($75); the 2006 Feudi di San Gregorio Rubrato ($20) and its Aglianico-based "counterpart" the 2005 Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico ($90) as well as two Cabernets from Santa Rita winery in Chile: the 2006 Casa Real and the 2005 Medalla Real ($15 and $75 respectively). The wines all showed beautifully - in fact, the crowd was often evenly divided over their preferences in each pairing.

The conclusion? Well, it was interesting albeit quite unscientific: the crowd loved all the wines- regardless of price.


  1. This deserves wider coverage and should be very disturbing to producers and retailers alike. Your session substantiated what the wine economists found

  2. However, you didn't report on the outcome of whether the attendees were able to distinguish the inexpensive from the expensive.

  3. Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the thought- there were a few members of the audience who consistently identified the wines correctly but it was interesting how often the cheap wines were (equally) preferred. On the other hand, these were all very good 'cheap' wines - all from first-rate producers. (Aldo would NOT like me saying 'cheap' so many times!)