Teams from Oxford University and Copenhagen Business School have gone through to this year's Left Bank Bordeaux Cup final after a tense European qualifying round in London.
Chateau Lafite, where this year’s final will be held in June
Oxford’s three-man team won the qualifier outright and Copenhagen finished runners-up following a 90-minute dissection of students’ knowledge of Bordeaux’s left bank, conducted in the bowels of the Connaught hotel in London’s Mayfair district on Saturday evening.
Those two teams will again meet in June in the cellars of Chateau Lafite Rothschild for the global final of the competition, which is organised by the Commanderie du Bontemps for Medoc, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac and counts Decanter as a sponsor.
Cambridge, who won the competition last year, failed to qualify this time around. Three other universities, including St Andrews, based just north of Edinburgh in Scotland, Madrid IE Business School and Lausanne took part. There were three women among the 18 team members.
It was an nervy start for all. On the first question of the multiple choice round, nobody identifed the name of Mouton Rothschild’s white wine, Aile d’Argent, from a three-strong line-up.
‘Now we begin the competition again,’ quipped the grand master of the Commanderie, Emmanuel Cruse, presiding over the proceedings in cabernet-coloured robes, a velvet-brimmed hat and gold chain.
Multiple choice questions varied from the number of classed growths in Pauillac (18) to the smallest appellation among Moulis, St Julien and Listrac. The answer is Moulis. Contestants were also asked which of Queen Elizabeth II’s children is a member of the Commanderie. Prince Andrew is the correct answer.
There was little to choose between the scores at half-time, piling on the pressure for the blind tasting round. Playing for double points, teams were asked a series of questions about three separate flights of wine, two red and one white.
Questions varied from identifying the correct vintage year to deciphering which wine was from a a particular appellation.
Nearly all of the teams appeared surprised to be confronted with dry whites instead of Sauternes on the final flight.
Eventual victory for Oxford had the added sweetener of revenge after the university was beaten by rival Cambridge in the annual varsity match between the two earlier this year.
Cruse praised the standard of knowledge among the teams as the event drew to a close. ‘This competition is becoming more and more important,’ he said.
Written by Chris Mercer