– Blackwood Lane Wine Challenge Evenings –
Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Wine but Were Too Afraid to Ask
March was a busy month at Blackwood Lane as Carlos Lee hosted two of his famous Wine Challenge evenings. On March 3rd, challengers went up against the world-class 2009 Alliànce, and on the 17th, Blackwood’s 2013 Cabernet Franc was up to bat! The gauntlet had been thrown!
British actor and author, Stephen Fry, once mused that “wine can be a better teacher than ink, and banter is often better than books.” It’s a statement that perfectly encapsulates Blackwood Lane’s Wine Challenges. Indeed, one can talk long and loudly about wine, wax poetic about a certain varietal’s bouquet or describe – in detail – a vintage’s notes and nose, but in the final analysis, one has to actually drink the wine to fully appreciate its complexity and subtle flavours and aromas.
A Sensational Sensory Celebration
Just like a 5-star restaurant experience, great wine is best imbibed when shared in the company of friends. The Wine Challenge evenings at Blackwood Lane are a sumptuous synesthesia of world-class wine, hors d'oeuvres, good-humoured banter and lots of laughter!
Learn from a Master
While a big part of the challenge is the mirth and merriment of sampling great wine, it’s also a chance to learn more about wine and the winemaking process from Blackwood Lane owner, Carlos Lee. It’s not often that one has the opportunity to sit at a table with one of Canada’s premier winemakers and sample his product against other wines!
Don’t Bring a Knife to a Sword Fight
Because Carlos’ wines are world-class and regularly score 97 and 98 points, he encourages those who partake in the challenges to bring their wine “A-game.” This means bring your best bottle! If you’re not sure what wine to bring, it’s always a great idea to ask the staff at your local wine store which vintage and winery they think is best, or the most popular. For example, at our most recent wine challenge, one guest mentioned that the 2015 bottle of Cabernet Franc they brought had just won a wine challenge at the store where he purchased it. While it was quaffable, it was no match for Blackwood Lane's 2013 vintage.
Confidence and Humility
Carlos is confident in his wines (with good reason), and will happily go up against wines from $30 to $3000! However, he maintains the humility of a true artist explaining, “if my wine wins, that’s great, but if it doesn’t, it’s an opportunity for me to learn!”
A Seat at the Table
One doesn’t have to be a wine expert to join the challenges. The focus is on learning about wine in a friendly, non-judgemental and encouraging environment. In short, there is no pretension here – just a fun-filled and educational evening. Come one, come all!
The Challenge Process
Carlos has devised a foolproof way to conduct his challenges:
- First, the challenger’s wine is poured into a nondescript glass.
- Then Blackwood Lane’s wine is poured into a second glass engraved with their logo (to avoid confusion).
- Carlos then invites his guests to sample the challenger’s wine first and volunteer their comments and impressions.
- Next, he invites them to sample his wine and then go back to the challenger’s wine again. This allows guests to ascertain the distinctions, similarities, and differences between the two.
This process is truly the best way to learn and appreciate the subtle (and sometimes obvious) variations between the wines. Guests get excited when they can truly taste and smell what Carlos is describing, and notice these distinctions for themselves.
A Progression of Contraries
Carlos explains that one of the major benefits of the wine challenges is that it provides guests with the opportunity to learn and appreciate the wine through contrast. You can’t really know what’s better if you don’t have anything with which to compare and contrast it.
Toyota’s and Bentley’s
If you’ve only driven a Toyota, you may think it’s a fine car, but once you test drive a Bentley, you’ll soon appreciate the quality of the luxury car. Subsequently, you’ll begin to notice the shortcomings of the Toyota. Let’s face it, once you’ve driven the Bentley, you’ll probably never want to go back to driving the Corolla!
No Going Back
For most wine challenge guests, this is their experience. They’ll bring in a wine that they like, or even love, but after contrasting it with Blackwood Lane’s wine, many relegate their once cherished vintage to the kitchen for cooking use only. Carlos explains this phenomenon:
“The [challenger’s] wines are quaffable, but then you try my wine that contains no chemicals and your body becomes more discerning. You can then taste the bitterness and the chemicals. Your body learns the taste of pure wine and it’s hard to go back.”
Blackwood Lane’s Wine Challenge evenings are very popular and sell out quickly! It is recommended that you purchase your tickets well in advance! Carlos and the Blackwood Lane family look forward to seeing you (and your wine) soon!