Huon Hooke reports on the Five Nations Wine Challenge: Blind tasting really is a great leveler. It throws up results that cannot be predicted. One might expect a Chilean to favour Chilean styles of wine; an Australian to prefer Aussie styles, etcetera, but it ain’t necessarily so.
This is part of the fun of participating in the Five Nations Wine Challenge.
Personally, I often find in this competition that I have rated highest wines that are unfamiliar to me, often wines I’ve never tasted before. Frequently they were produced in South Africa, Chile or Argentina – countries whose wines I seldom get to taste in any great depth. A Chilean cabernet blend and two Chilean syrahs, two lovely South African cabernets, and a several Argentinian malbecs were among my top wines of the entire judging.
Five Nations is a kind of benchmarking involving the five major southern hemisphere wine producing countries. It is a useful and instructive exercise for anyone involved in wine. Simply defined, benchmarking is blind-tasting your own wines against other wines of similar style or price-level. Such an exercise quickly reveals if your own wines are over (or under) priced, whether they are deficient in any way compared to their competitors – or indeed whether the opposite is true and they over-deliver. In Five Nations, you can never predict the outcome!
What a great opportunity this is – not only for we thoroughly spoilt judges, but for anyone who chooses to come along to the public tasting and see for themselves what a high standard there is now among the best wines of these five nations. And how close the competition is.