The rival teams gathered at the New Club, Edinburgh for the annual blind wine-tasting. The first flight of six whites proved challenging for the students, largely because four of the wines were unoaked, cool climate and high acid. This required the tasters to be able to pick up the subtle nuances between 1er Cru Chablis and Austrian Gruner Vertliner; these were the wines that really separated the strong tasters from the pack.
A wine that was almost a banker was an Argentine Torrontes, low in acid and incredibly floral with overpowering notes of rose water. The final wine proved to be the toughest to identify; a lusciously sweet Sauternes brimming with Botrytis, honey and lots of residual sugar, with not one student recognising the correct wine nor appellation. A number of students placed this wine as an old oxidised white Rioja, a reflection of the fact that the students did not expect a sweet wine to appear in the flight. One of the judges, Claire Blackler, commented on how tricky the whites were, especially without any obvious oak in the wines, although this did not prove an issue for some of the top scorers.
The red flight was equally tricky; the wines were all of outstanding quality and classic examples of their type. Wines such as Pomerol, Barolo and Marsannay proved to be the easier wines in the flight, with students fumbling on the classic wines of Ribera Del Duero by Peter Sisseck (PSI) which showed great purity and finesse for the region.
The top taster on the day was a second year medical student from St Andrew’s and the judges commented that she had applied an almost clinical approach to tasting; the notes were written extremely concisely and followed the same ordered structure leading to identification of the wines.
Whilst St Andrews had the top taster, it was not quite enough to carry them home. Longstanding judge Will Lyons remarked that it was the closest match in some years, however Edinburgh cinched it once more and will enjoy a trip out to Maison Pol Roger in May for the International match.