Wharton, Harvard reach finals of Bordeaux tasting competition

Activities that just weren’t there when I was in school, as Reported in the DECANTER:

  • by Maggie Rose

Teams from Wharton and Harvard business schools have reached the final round of the 20 sur Vin trivia and tasting competition organised by the Commanderie de Bontemps.


Photo: The Wharton team L-R Megan O’Connor, Margot Stern, Nicolas Bentz, Elizabeth Jetton (captain)

For the first time since the contest’s launch in 2002, American and Asian schools were invited to compete against the traditional entrants from Europe, the United Kingdom and France.

Wharton and Harvard beat teams from Kellogg Business School, Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School in a qualifying round at the French Consulate in New York. The students were quizzed on their knowledge of Bordeaux Left Bank and blind-tasted three flights.

‘It felt like an exam,’ said Wharton student Megan O’Connor, whose team’s preparation included months of intensive tasting, spearheaded by a French fellow member, and a two-day trip to a Paris for practice at a wine fair.

‘Some of it was incredibly difficult. For example, they gave us three Sauternes – two from the same vintage – and asked us to choose the outlier and its vintage. I don’t think anyone got it.’

Trivia questions included “when did Pessac-Leognan become an appellation” and “how many AOCs are there in the Médoc?”

Participants routinely include France’s “grandes écoles”, as well as Oxford and Cambridge. Last year’s winners were the team from l’Université Paris-Dauphine.

Winners of the 2011 finals at Chateau Lafite Rothschild on 17 June will each receive a magnum of Chateau Lafite, and a seat at the Vinexpo dinner.


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