For our Wine Syndicate group’s quarterly dinner we challenged ourselves to correlate price with quality. We failed.
Meeting at The Capital Grille, we poured six pairs of wine, completely blind except for knowing the wines’ prices, but not which price went with which wine. The results were eye opening. Here are the six flights, and how things turned out:
1988 Haut Brion Blanc ($490) vs. 2006 Ramey Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay ($50)
The group unanimously preferred the Ramey (ash, oak butter, opulent, 95 pts), and thought it was the better wine! After a couple of hours the Haut Brion became a lot more interesting (waxy, candy, minerals, gigs, nuts, vanilla, honey, 90 pts), but my scoring was unchanged. No one caught the almost 20 year spread between the wines, and everyone thought the Ramey was a white Burgundy.
1973 BV Special Label “Burgundy” ($75) vs. 1983 DRC Echezeaux ($680)
This was the only flight where the group was evenly split as far as popularity. Most identified the true Echezeaux (mint, delicate, 93 pts), and Debbie named the BV Special Label (redwood, sweet, 92 pts). Good job Debbie!
1979 Opus One ($357) vs. 1979 Inglenook Petite Sirah ($30)
The group unanimously preferred the Inglenook (paint thinner, wood, figs, 89 pts). This was the first vintage of Opus (mint, vanilla, pencil shavings, 87 pts), and it was the worst wine of the tasting.
2007 Jean Royer Chateauneuf Prestige ($40) vs. 1989 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle ($230)
The group almost unanimously preferred the Hermitage (meat, smoke, bacon fat, mint, 90 pts) which was correctly identified by Ron. Good job Ron! The Chateauneuf was odd (candy, berries, fruit wrap, jam, smoke, 88 pts).
1986 Chateau Mouton Rothschild ($900) vs. 1991 Dominus ($220)
The group unanimously preferred the Dominus (green pepper, gravel, lead pencil, mint, 97 pts) and thought it was old world and the more expensive wine! The Mouton (coffee, smoke, tar, green peppers, rubber, bacon, smoke, 95 pts) was a Parker 100 point wine that everyone thought was new world! To make matters worse, Ron, Bev, Linda and I had tasted both of these wines at events within the last two months, and none of us identified them or had them associated with the correct continent!
1963 Graham Port ($300) vs. 1992 Guenoc “Port” ($20)
A solid majority identified the real port (soft, delicate, complex, red-wine nose, 92 pts). The Guenoc (woody, 90 pts) was a fine product but was overshadowed by a great vintage of the real thing.
The Bottom Line
Out of six flights, we were unanimously wrong half the time, identifying the cheaper wine as the more expensive! Spend those dollars wisely, folks!