I prefer tasting blind. I have been doing so for almost my entire career at Wine Spectator. It helps me focus on the real quality of each wine. It better enables me to concentrate on what's in the glass and not what's on the bottle.
So to take it even further, I decided a few days ago to completely blind taste while on a tasting road trip. I didn't want any exterior factors to influence my tasting experience, even things like architecture or beauty. I had to go to taste at the cellar of the well-known garagiste winemaker Jean-Luc Thunevin (you probably know about his large garage wine Valandraud in St.-Emilion, as well as his swimming pool wine, Carraudes de Valandraud); so I wanted to be as free as possible in my mind to taste his wine in freedom or liberté, as the French would say.
Luckily, a friend of mine had an extra sleeping eyeshade in his suitcase. Otherwise I would have had to use a scarf or a tie or something to blindfold myself for my morning tasting in the beautiful (I mean … uh … plain … uh … nevermind) town of St.-Emilion.
I arrived in the central parking lot and immediately put on my blindfold. I must admit that it was hard to negotiate the roads as I walked through the small town trying to find the offices of Jean-Luc. The large map of the city was absolutely no use!
I felt my way to his offices and then stumbled into his tasting room, without falling in his spacious indoor swimming pool or treacherous stream running under his house. I was led to a tasting table and set about my task of tasting about three dozen new wines. Luckily, my trusty tasting coordinator Rosanne Quagliata was there to aid me.
I must admit that pouring samples was an absolute pain, as well as typing. But I persevered. I somehow got through the samples and typed in my notes. I later looked at what I wrote and I must admit they were not the clearest tasting notes I have taken, but I have edited them. And I am comfortable with them.
I tried to find Jean-Luc to ask him some questions about the wines and it took a while to find him in the cellar. But we spoke for a few minutes and he reminded me that I had tasted red wines, not white. It was a good interview.
Finally, I had to go, so I stumbled back to the parking lot, jumped in my car and sped back to Bordeaux. I don't suggest tasting and driving in France. The gendarme can be extremely unfriendly if you have been tasting wine and wearing a blindfold while driving.
Anyway, it was a good day of blind tasting on the road in France, and if there is anyone else out there who is as much an April Fool as I am today, then I suggest you apply for a position with the European office of the magazine. Happy April Fool's Day, or poisson d'Avril as we say in France!
Charles Leary — North Carolina — April 1, 2010 12:13pm ET
Jim Mcclure — DFW, Texas — April 1, 2010 12:21pm ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — April 1, 2010 1:04pm ET
Carl Gauthier — laval, québec, canada — April 1, 2010 2:35pm ET
Michael Tracy — Corona, CA — April 2, 2010 12:22pm ET
Michael Tracy — Corona, CA — April 2, 2010 10:11pm ET
Sergio Gonzalez — Los Angeles, CA USA — April 10, 2010 5:09pm ET
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