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The Judgement Of Hong Kong - France V Portugal Blind Tasting (In Aid Of The Sovereign Art Foundation) 02/06/2011

The Paris Tasting of 1976 (now the subject of the Hollywood film "Bottleshock") will forever be remembered as the event that transformed the wine industry.

At this legendary blind tasting, a panel of top French wine experts shocked the industry by rating unknown California wines more highly than France's best.

On the 24th May 2011, The Sovereign Art Foundation hosted a special blind wine tasting to showcase the best of Portugal against the best of France. A judging panel was set up and chaired by Simon Tam, Hong Kong's foremost wine critic who sat alongside Charles Curtis MW, head of Asia wine sales for Christie's, Nigel Bruce, publisher of several wine books and member of The Hong Kong Wine Society, Filipe Santos, President of the Wine Society in Macau, Paulo Pong from Altaya Wines and Benoit Allauzen, head sommelier from L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, Hong Kong.

Guests purchased tickets to attend the event that evening with the proceeds going to The Sovereign Art Foundation. Each of the 13 wines were scored out of 20- as in the original Paris tasting.

Guest Alfred Ng ranked the wines closest to the judges and won an IWC gold 'Portuguese' watch. Please click the link at to view pictures.

Here is a list of the wines we tasted, all of the 2007 vintage, in the order presented together with the scores given by both the judges and the public.

Wines Judges Score Public Score
1. Beychevelle 105 608
2. Pintas 100.5 663.5
3. Leoville Barton 106 711.5
4. Quinta do Noval 101 673
5. Latour 106.5 715
6. Mouton Rothschild 110 741
7. Chryseia 99.5 646.5
8. Lynch Bages 110 672.5
9. Quinta Vale Dona Maria 106 658.5
10. Quinta da Leda 102 668.5
11. Batuta 98 681
12. La Mission Haut Brion 107 722.5
13. Esporao 97 709.5

This means the judges ranked the wines in the following order:
1. Mouton Rothschild and Lynch Bages
2. La Mission Haut Brion
3. Latour
4. Leoville Barton and Quinta Vale Dona Maria
5. Beychevelle
6. Quinta da Leda
7. Quinta do Noval
8. Pintas
9. Chryseia
10. Batuta
11. Esporao

The public ranked the wines in the following order:
1. Mouton Rothschild
2. La Mission Haut Brion
3. Latour
4. Leoville Barton
5. Esporao
6. Batuta
7. Quinta do Noval
8. Lynch Bages
9. Quinta da Leda
10. Pintas
11. Quinta Vale Dona Maria
12. Chryseia
13. Beychevelle

On analysis this shows a very close result. The judges gave the winning wine an average of 18.33 points but the best Portuguese wine, Quinta Vale D. Maria 2007 Douro Red, which came equal 4th received a very close average of 17.67 points from the judges. Even the lowest ranked wine received an average of 16.17 points from each judge attesting to the quality of all the wines tasted.

The public vote was surprisingly similar to that of the judges. The public chose the same wines as their first four but chose Esporao- the only wine from the Alentejo region of Portugal (all other Portuguese wines in the contest being from the Douro)- as their fifth favourite. The public's least favourite wine, by some margin, was Beychevelle which was much liked by the judges and scored only five points less than the judges' winner. Taking Beychevelle out of the equation all other wines scored by the public received between 741 points (Mouton Rothschild) and 646.5 points (Chryseia). This represents a difference of only 94.5 points in total between the top French wine and the bottom Portuguese wine so less than 2 points per scorer.

The tasting showed that Portuguese red wines can compare favourably to 1st growth French wines. Portuguese wines have fantastic aging potential and show real depth of flavour and character with unique grape varieties.

The event was held in aid of the Sovereign Art Foundation and the money raised will go towards supporting the programmes in Cambodia, India and elsewhere which use art as therapy and rehabilitation for disadvantaged children.

Please look at our website and our explanatory video featuring Martina Navratilova and Hollywood film director Baz Luhrmann at

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