It’s not the sort of invitation I usually accept: “come taste my wine against the recognized category leaders”. But today I did exactly just that. The invitation came from John Carlo Meli of Natural Vines importing agency to taste the ultra-luxury champagne brand he represents called Le Prestance, by Maison Vendôme, against the latest releases of Môet et Chandon’s Dom Pérignon and Roederer’s Crystal in a blind tasting challenge (actually the blind part was my idea). This type of guerilla marketing has been around since the big Paris tasting of 1976 pitting top Bordeaux and Burgundy against the upstarts from California, and probably much longer than that. My issue is that is a rather pointless exercise, at least for the taster. For the marketers, however, it’s golden, since you can’t really loose: coming in second place to the best is still pretty good, and if you win, well, you win.
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To kick off the 2011 Holiday Season, I was invited to small, intimate tasting of three Champagnes at Toca restaurant, located in the Ritz Carlton Hotel. My friend John Carlo Meli who runs Natural Vines wine agency, was showcasing a new Champagne contender to rival the big names of Dom and Cristal. Not that you ever need a purpose to open a bottle of Champagne since it’s fine anytime! The purpose of this tasting was to taste the three Champagnes blindly with Master Sommelier John Szabo. He would ultimately decide how this newbie would place amongst the three contenders. As a blogger, I was fortunate to have also been invited along with the beautiful Angela Aiello from iYellow Wine Club. I’m not used to tasting bubbly at 11:30 am but I could get used to it.