Vintage Pairs Events

“Vintage Pairs” Blind Tasting

In this blind tasting session, we select five wines, serve them blind and, as a group, work deductively through the tasting process to uncover the wine. The trick here is we actually serve ten wines – two wines with something in common, served in pairs.

1st Pair: 2012 & 2002 Maison Louis Roederer - 'Cristal'

The Russians were a key19th century market for Champagne, and the Tsar Alexander II was a fan of Maison Louis Roederer, therefore the creation of Cristal in 1876 by the maison to satisfy the demand for the emperor. It’s known for its unique bottle shape with a flat-bottom (to prevent hiding a bomb) and transparent lead-crystal glass (to detect poison) at the demand of the emperor. It became one of the most iconic Champagne wines on the planet. The wine is produced uniquely during the best years with grapes coming from Grand Crus plots in the Montagne de Reims, the Marne Valley, and the Côte des Blancs. The blend ratio is slightly different depending on the vintage, but it’s mainly around 40% of Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir which have all attained perfect maturity before harvest. One-third of the wines are aged in oak (with no malolactic fermentation) before the final wine is bottled and aged for 6 years in lees in the maison cellars and left for a further 8 months after dégorgement.

2002 was one of the most outstanding vintages in Champagne. It was disgorged in December 2008 and has 9g/l dosage. It displays notes of fresh cut fuji apple, blossom. It’s round and has fine bubbles, a pleasure on the palate.

2012 is the first vintage of Cristal done with 100% Demeter-certified, biodynamically-farmed fruit. When Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon took over as winemaker at Louis Roederer in 1999, he requested to be in charge of the vineyards too. And with the 2000 vintage he started using biodynamic farming practices in parcels at Louis Roederer. It was disgorged in 2019 and has 7.5 g/l dosage. The wine is dense and crisp with fresh notes of lemon, white flowers, hazelnut, vanilla, a bit of brioche.

2nd Pair: 2019 Chateau Cheval Blanc - “Le Petit Cheval Blanc” & 2019 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia – “Ornellaia Bianco”

Le Petit Cheval Blanc is the white wine made by Château Cheval Blanc in St-Emilion. Not a very common wine to see and it always raises people curiosity to try. The wine debuted commercially with the 2014 vintage, from land that had been part of Château La Tour du Pin. The ultimate goal of the Chateau was to create a wine respecting the six fundamental qualities of Cheval Blanc: freshness, complexity, potential for aging, depth, length and purity.’ They made, but never released vintages 2009-2013. This 2019 was made with a blend of 79% Sauvignon blanc and 21% Sémillon harvested from 13 different

parcels of the property and the wines are aged for 22 months on its lees in new oak. The wine shows chalky minerality and fresh acidity with notes of lemon, peach, green apples, and gooseberry.

Located in the foothills of Bolgheri in Tuscany. Ornellaia was established in 1981 by Marchese Lodovico Antinori, and the current owner is Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi. They practice sustainable viticulture, and the soil makeup of the estate is marine, alluvial and volcanic. The first launch of Ornellaia Bianco was the vintage 2013 and the blend is Sauvignon Blanc-driven. The vintage 2019 is made of 81% Sauvignon Blanc and 19% Viognier from three small vineyards in the property. The wine is aged in lees in 30% new oak for 10 months and concluded in steel vats for 2 more months. Blending is done just before bottling, and the wines stay a further 6 months in cellar before going into market. The wine shows bright acidity with some salinity. It shows notes of lemon zest, white melon, lychee, apricot, green apples, and spice. This Italian white is very Bordeaux style.

3rd Pair: 2001 & 1990 Chateau Leoville Las Cases

Château Léoville-Las Cases dates back to the 17th century, it has been one of the oldest and largest estates in Médoc and was owned by some of the wealthiest and influential noble French families prior its acquisition by the Las Cases family. “Léoville” means Lion Town (on the arch at the main entrance, featured on the wine label), and Las Cases were the heirs to the property until 1900 when the Delon family acquired the estate and it has been in that family ever since.

The main vineyard block (about 55 hectares) for making “The Grand-Vin” is called “Grand Clos” located north of St.-Julien, adjoining Latour and overlooking the Gironde. It is one of the finest in the Médoc, composed of peyrosol gravel over sand and clay subsoils, farmed mostly organically. The slopes and tiny streams provide perfect drainage. The grape varieties planted are Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Merlot (19%), Cabernet Franc (13%), and Petit Verdot (3%). There were major replantings in the 1950’s, the average age of the vines is 30 years. The annual production is 30,000 cases. The grapes are harvested by hand, fermentation occurs in wooden, cement and stainless steel vats. The wine is aged in French oak barriques, around 80% is new oak (exact percentage varies depending on vintage) for an average of 18 months before bottling. The wine is classified a second growth in the Grand Cru classification of 1855 – but as I was saying, it consistently knocks on the door of the first growths.

1990 was a vintage which great wines were produced in a beautiful style. This wine has a round texture with silky tannins. With notes of ripe black fruits, dried herbs, tobacco, pepper, and forest floor. 2001 is also a ready-to-drink vintage with notes of plum, cassis, flowers, cedar, and leather.

4th Pair: 1998 Penfolds - Grange & Maison E. Guigal - Cote Rotie 'La Turque'

‘Grange’ from Penfolds is Australia’s most iconic wine first created in 1951 and it was listed officially as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. The wine is mostly Shiraz, with a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon (in 1998, the ratio was 97% Shiraz and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon) using only the finest grapes from multiple South Australian districts, such as McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks and the wine is then aged for 18 months in 100% new American oak hogshead barrels. With annual production ranging from 7,000 to 9,000 cases, the wines show consistency of quality between vintages, and they are known for their big ability to age long term which overtime will show structure and strong fruit character. Alcohol level for 1998 vintage was 14.5% vol, with notes of raspberry, blackcurrant and blackberry, laced with dark chocolate, licorice and oak. Tannins are riped and velvety, with a long finish.

Maison Etienne Guigal was established in 1946. His son Marcel focused on absolute quality, creating at the top of his Côte-Rôtie domaine three single vineyard examples – ‘La Mouline’ (from 1966<), from the Côte Blonde, the more charming, soft and perfumed of the three (11% Viognier); ‘La Landonne’ (from 1978<) a pure Syrah from Côte Brune, with longevity and backbone; and ‘La Turque’ (from 1985<). These vineyards are casually known as the La Las. Production is tiny, with only around 400 cases of La Turque made annually. For farming for their vineyards, they practice sustainable viticulture and don’t use any chemicals, herbicides or pesticides. They concentrate on caring for their vineyards and some of the vines date back to 1890. they use indigenous yeast for the fermentation, and the wines are aged in barrel for for 42 months. The wine is dense and concentrated, with notes of sweet herbs, plum, cherries, raspberry, blackberry, spice, and smoke.

5th Pair: 2017 Lucunda - Russian River Valley Pinot Noir & Burn Cottage - Pinot Noir

Esther and Derek Chan, the Hong Kong couple behind Lucunda Vineyards, have been drinking fine wine for many years. They love the expression of Pinot Noir in Burgundy but wanted to create a wine with more consistency which they find to be true of American wines. In 2016, the Chans purchased 20 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley. The vineyards contained 16 acres (6.47 hectares) of premium Pinot Noir vines that were about 20 years old. Lucunda is located on Starr Road in Windsor, California in the heart of the Russian River Valley. 2017 is their first vintage. The production is about 3,000 bottles a year, so only ten barrels of wine. They are aged in 50% new French oak is and they do not do fining or filtering before bottling. The wine is approachable at this stage with very soft tannins and shows pleasing notes of sweet-cherry.

Burn Cottage Vineyard Property is a twenty four hectare estate in the foothills of the Pisa range in Central Otago, New Zealand. The vineyard of 20ha was purchased in 2002 and is owned by the Sauvage family based in Chicago, they planted vines on about 10ha. They make wines from vineyard blocks from the property with individual character traits on an estate property. They minimizing sulphur usage and avoiding all additives whenever possible. Each block within the respective vineyards is fermented separately in a combination of open top wooden and stainless steel fermenters. The indigenous ferments are nurtured for 17-22 days and given a combination of gentle pump overs and plunge downs before being pressed off and transferred to French barrels, in which 20-30% of these are new oak for about 11 months before bottling without fining or filtration. The 2017 vintage is the nineth commercially released vintage. The wine shows considerable intensity and length, but it starts off with charming floral notes, hints of thyme and cedar and lashings of black cherries. It's that elusive combination of concentration and complexity, wrapped in a silky coat of ripe tannins, that raises this wine to the next level. It’s within drinking window.

Share this page
all fields are mandatory

View our past Vintage Pairs wine selection

Vintage Wine Bottle size Score
2012 Maison Louis Roederer - Champagne 'Cristal' 750ml WA97+
2002 Maison Louis Roederer - Champagne 'Cristal' 750ml WA96+
2019 Chateau Cheval Blanc - “Le Petit Cheval Blanc” 750ml
2019 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia – “Ornellaia Bianco” 750ml -
2001 Chateau Leoville Las Cases 750ml
1990 Chateau Leoville Las Cases 750ml WA96
1998 Penfolds - Grange 750ml WA99
1998 Maison E. Guigal - Cote Rotie 'La Turque' 750ml WA98
2017 Lucunda - Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 750ml -
2017 Burn Cottage - Burn Cottage Pinot Noir 750ml WA94

Highlighted events