I always endeavour to taste wine with an open mind. “Taste the wine, not the label” is advice I give to every young member of the wine trade I meet, having been told it myself 32 years ago when I started working in this fascinating business. It has served me well. I find gems all over the place and they often have dreary labels or come from unlikely wineries. Of course,
I have to taste thousands of bottles to find wines worthy of comment, but that’s the job and I love the challenge. If you have lazily relied simply on labels alone to guide you, you will undoubtedly have a narrow palate and even narrower chances of success.
Here is a wine that proves one should keep an open mind and also not rely on labels for instruction. The 2002 Noble Blanc de Blancs is available in two labels – the old one and my featured new one, so label-slaves would be confounded in their habits. Those out of love with Lanson (I was in this camp) will fall head over heels in a moment, too.
This is a spectacular chardonnay, shaped by its brilliant vintage, 17 years of age and its amazing, rich, layered palate. This is a tour de force from the home of the “Black Label” and Champagne fiends. Whether you were previously a Lanson fan or not, you must track it down – its performance will shock you.
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).