Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne and the University of Oxford beat stiff competition at the regional heats to win a place at the Left Bank Cup Final at Château Lafite-Rothschild this June. See who they will face when they get there...

Nine universities battled it out at the Dorchester Hotel to secure a place at the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup 2016 final at Château Lafite-Rothschild on 17 June.

  • Scroll down to see the list of finalists so far

Old UK adversaries Oxford and Cambridge were joined by last year’s winner, Imperial College London Business School, along with the University of Saint Andrews and University of Edinburgh to pit their Bordeaux knowledge and tasting power against European rivals Copenhagen Business School, always a strong contestant, and HEC Lausanne and Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.

Emmanuel Cruse, the grand maitre of The Commanderie du Bontemps for Médoc, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac, welcomed the students. He was dressed in flowing velvet robes and hat with a white crumpled top – to represent the egg white used in the production process.

General knowledge

The first part of the competition was general knowledge, consisting of 10 questions and a mixture of hard facts and Bordeaux trivia. Questions included:

  • What is the maximum yield allowed inside the Sauternes appellation? 15 hectolitres, 25 hectolitres, or 50 hectolitres (the answer is 25)
  • Which team from a Médoc Château won the Queen’s Cup (one of the leading polo tournament) in 2004? Labegorce, Giscours, or Lanessan (answer Labergorce).

Impressively, Oxford along with HEC Lausanne answered correctly, proving impeccable Bordeaux/polo research. Two points were awarded for each correct answer and at the end of the first round, Copenhagen Business School and Oxford University were tied for first place with 14 points a piece.

Blind tasting

It is, however, always in the blind tasting section where the competition is won of lost, with up to 30 points available.

Two flights of three red wines were poured and the students had to decide on appellations and vintages. Concentration, furrowed brows, looks of intensity between the teams of three, was it Listrac or Haut-Médoc?

With one round to go, there were six teams who could win. Out came the Sauternes and Barsac and, like the Becher’s Brook fence in the Grand National, the wines threw five of the teams off their stride, not even a point on their score card.

Oxford, who were in a commanding lead with 30 points, remained on 30 and Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne proved to be Sauternes’ experts, scoring 8 out of 10 points – bringing them level on 30 with Oxford.

Their tasting prowess meant they took first place and Oxford second, but neither team cared; they were on their way to the cellars of Château Lafite.

At the final, they will meet rivals from France, USA and Asia.

With high fives and phone calls home, the teams joined Emmanuel Cruse and other members of the jury for dinner along with the other competitors. One thing is certain, the Sauternes region will be seeing a lot of university students soon.

Other finalists in the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup 2016

  • Yale Law School, US
  • The Wharton School, US
  • Huaiying Normal University, China (debut in competition)
  • Hong Kong Baptist University

The French qualification round will take place on 11 May.