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This year, for the first time, the International Blind Wine Tasting match, which has traditionally been between the winners of the Oxford vs Cambridge Match and the reciprocal French match, expanded to invite the winning team of the Edinburgh vs St Andrews Match.

And so it was that the Oxford and Edinburgh winning teams travelled to Epernay to meet their French opponents, Normale Superieure. Hubert de Billy welcomed all of the teams and explained the specificities of the International match; unlike the matches held in the UK, the wines selected for this competition are exclusively French in origin, however, they can be blends, rather than predominant grape varieties.

The white wines proved to be an easier flight than the Reds, including ‘bankers’ such as a wonderfully herbaceous Sancerre and a limey Riesling from Alsace. However the Reds were found to be more challenging, particularly with the inclusion of not one, but two Pinot Noirs, one from Burgundy and another from the Loire.

Overall the standard was very high, with only 15 points separating the top two teams. When all the scores were counted and verified, it was clear that the top taster had truly excelled, and with a remarkable 167.5 points, 30 more than the 2nd best taster, Adrien of Normale Superieure was the worthy winner of a Magnum of Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2002. Unsurprisingly, with such a clear advantage, Normale Superieure came out on top, 15 points ahead of Oxford and with Edinburgh not far behind.

Following the match all teams enjoyed a delicious lunch accompanied by Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs 2004, Brut Vintage 2004 and Rose 2006.

We look forward to the rematch next year and the national competitions in advance.