the famous blind tasting – did it really happen? 19 januari 2013
Richard Juhlin is by many considered the world´s no 1 champagne expert. There are many reasons for this ranking, for example his ability ta verbalize what he discovers in a wine, or his enormous feat in catalogizing all his evaluations (which in fact constitue the basis of this club and this website) – but the quintessence of the myth behind the man can perhaps best be summarized by telling the story about The Famous Tasting…
Ever since that day in Paris 2003, the story about Richard Juhlin´s incredible blind tasting of 50 different champagnes has been told around the dinner tables, where champagne lovers and the bubbly initiated has debated the plausability of this legendary feat.. The story itself has almost become just that, a legend, and strangely enough it has not always been taken for a factual description of an actual event. Well, maybe it is not so strange, since what happened that early September evening is nothing short of a surreal accomplishment that may never be repeated. So, did it really happen?
Of course it did! Richard Juhlin shocked the entire wine tasting world, and catapulted himself into a dimension of his own. For perspective you could compare Mr Juhlin´s result in this blind testing to an athletic accomplishment, and realize that it was not just a world record – it was a universal, galaxial, four dimensional record that left the competition in an odd state of humiliation and awe. These are the facts:
The French magazine Spectacle du Monde arranged, for several consecutive years, an extensive annual champagne tasting for a special issue with focus on champagne. There had been several attempts to lure Mr Juhlin to attend the tasting, due to his acclaimed expertise and skill, and finally, in 2003, he was able to attend. This year the tasting panel was blindly evaluate 50 champagnes, and also try to pinpoint the brand, the producer, the year… The tasting was very professional and the panel, consisting of a highly qualified international sommeliers and wine experts, enjoyed ample time to evaluate each champagne in perfect glasses with quick refills and temperature modulation. Mr Juhlin, given such prerequisites, activated his photographic sense of fragrance and immediately begun to recognize some of the contents. Eventually the puzzle started to take shape, and Mr Juhlin grew more and more comfortable that his evaluations and guesses were as educated as could be. When the tasting was completed, all participants had to relate their answers, and the turn came to Mr Juhlin. Going through the champagnes one by one, reasoning aloud on a few difficult particulars, Mr Juhlin accurately stated the brand, producer, and year…of 43 out of the 50 champagnes! The runner up, a former sommelier world champion, managed to correctly identify FOUR champagnes… Moreover Mr Juhlin had managed to identify the year of each of the seven champagnes that had escaped him. Needless to say the gathered audience as well as the other experts gasped for air in complete shock and disbelief, and voilà, a legend was born!
The story could have ended here, but there is a postludium that deserves to be mentioned. Mr Juhlin, very well aware of the difficulty in repeating such a feat, didn´t attend the tasting the next two years. He then showed at the same forum, but sat in on a tasting of standard champagnes, where blind indentification is virtually impossble due to the non-constand blends available. Everything was mainstream and relaxed until the two days of tastings came to an end, and the organizers couldn´t help but challenging Mr Juhlin again. The format this time was a duel, against another (sommelier) world champion, and the task at hand was to identify as many as possible among 20 rosé champagnes. Again, a blind tasting, but not completely referenceless, since both champions were told that the champagnes were among the rarest and the best of their kind. The other contestant found and identified 3 champagnes, while Mr Juhlin nailed all twenty!!
Since then, Mr Juhlin feels he no longer has anything to prove in this particular genre….