MEREDITH — Hermit Woods Winery conducted a blind tasting of six wines on Oct. 26, putting their 2015 Hermitage up against five world class grape wines from France, Spain, Australia and California. Much to Hermit Woods' delight, Hermitage won the night. They dubbed this night the “Judgment of New Hampshire” in reference to the seminal moment in 1976 known as the “Judgement of Paris” when California wines were judged in a blind tasting to be superior to French wines.
Fifteen guests attended and were given a 30-minute class in wine appreciation and scoring, and then provided with the American Wine Society 20-point score card and guidelines. Each wine was served in a numbered carafe and served one at a time. Guests were given five to ten minutes to evaluate each wine and score them on the provided score cards. Score cards were gathered and the results tallied.
The 2015 Hermitage was definitely a favorite, with eight of the 15 guests scoring the 2015 Hermitage the highest of out the six wines. And using the American Wine Society methodology, the 2015 Hermitage tied for second place with an overall score of 203 out of 300 versus a score of 213 for the 2014 Michael David Syrah from California. Lastly, when asked to identify the wine that was not made from grapes, only eight out of 15 guests correctly identified Hermitage.
Bob Manley, one of the founding partners at Hermit Woods, said, “We were, of course, very excited about the results of our tasting; fruit wine very often does not get the same respect as classic grape wines, and the results clearly indicate that a well crafted fruit wine can hold its own. Of course we also recognize that this event was done in fun and was not conducted by trained wine judges. Nonetheless, the results speak volumes.”
Hermit Woods did not go into this event completely blind. In 2016, a similar event was conducted in an informal manner with six trained wine professionals in Virginia, with similar results.
Hermit Woods hopes to someday hold a similar event on a much grander scale in New York or Boston, with trained wine professionals in a public forum, settling once and for all that a non-grape fruit wine crafted in New Hampshire can hold up to the classic grape wines of the world.
Hermit Woods Winery was included in the 2017 Food & Wine guide as one of the 500 best wineries in America, and their Petite Blue was selected by Ray Isle, Wine Editor for Food and Wine,as his favorite craft beverage in New Hampshire.
Eli Badger judges a glass of Hermit Woods wine at the Judgement of NH event, as Ken Hardcastle, Hermit Woods founder and wine maker, stands in the background. Dave Newton another event attendee is seated at right. (Courtesy photo)