A blind tasting of some of the world’s most revered Cabernet blends from the 2009 vintage in London yesterday saw Château Ducru-Beaucaillou come out in first place.
Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2009 came out top when the scores were added and averaged
Despite the presence of all five Bordeaux first growths in the tasting, the second growth property from Saint-Julien gained the highest average score when the results were added from a group of tasters, who were made up of UK press and included Sarah Ahmed, Gerard Basset MW, Peter Richards MW, Martin Moran MW, Richard Hemming and db’s Patrick Schmitt.
Coming in equal second place, with just one point behind Ducru-Beaucaillou, were Château Latour, Château Léoville-Las Cases, Château Mouton-Rothschild, Ridge Monte Bello, and Wolf Blass Black Label.
The event, which comprised 30 prized Cabernet blends from Bordeaux, California, Tuscany, Chile, Australia and South Africa, was conceived and organised by Chris Hatcher, head winemaker at Wolf Blass, and this year’s IWSC winemaker of the year.
First held last year with the 2008 vintage, Hatcher said that the blind tasting was not designed to be “a competition of Bordeaux versus the rest of the world”, but an attempt to see what the world’s leading regions for Cabernet blends were achieving in terms of quality and style.
Hatcher stressed that it wasn’t a Cabernet tasting, but a Cabernet blends tasting, with four of the wines in the line-up containing a Cabernet proportion of under 60%, although the majority contained over 70% of the grape.
After the tasting, Hatcher, who also tasted the wines blind too, told db that there wasn’t a great difference in score between the top 20 wines in the tasting, and revealed that his two top scoring wines were Château Latour and Ridge Monte Bello.
Wolf Blass Black Label came in second place with a clutch of top Cabernet blends from Bordeaux
While he was relieved his own wine, Wolf Blass Black Label, came in equal second place, he said he would be happy to see it in the top 15 and anywhere in the top eight.
He also said he didn’t want his wine to come in first place because people would doubt the fairness of the tasting.
“Actually, I don’t want us to be number one because then everyone would say we have cooked it,” he said.
Considering more general trends from the tasting, Hatcher said that both First Growth Bordeaux and the top Napa Cabernet blends had performed better this year than in 2012, when the same tasting was conducted with the 2008 vintage.
On the other hand, Italy’s Super Tuscans “didn’t look good this time, but did last time,” recorded Hatcher.
As for Ducru-Beaucaillou’s postion in top spot, Hatcher said that there are “always surprises with second growth Bordeaux, and it proves that you don’t have to be buying the first growths to get damn good wine.”
All of the wines were bought in UK retailers and each bottle was opened at 10am and then double decanted in preparation for tasting, which started at 1pm.
As for the order in which the wines were presented, this was “randomized” according to Hatcher.
The same tasting was conducted earlier this month in Montreal, Canada – a major market for Wolf Blass – where Ducru-Beaucaillou also came in first place, followed by Joseph Phelps’s Insignia, Ornellaia, Château Margaux and then Château Lafite.
The event will be repeated in Melbourne this Monday, and next year, Hatcher told db he’d like to do the event in New York, as well as Singapore, however, he said that it was hard to find enough specialist wine press in Asia for such a tasting.
Db’s highest scoring wines in the tasting, in order, were, in first equal, Château Margaux, Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Leoville-Barton, and in second equal, Dominus Estate, Château Ducru-Beaucaillou and Ridge Monte Bello.
The full results from the tasting can be viewed on the following page.