So the Secret Wine Deathmatch Apocalypse is over and the winner is...
Costière de Nîmes was the crafty appellation behind the the PR extravaganza and shame on hoards of wine-bloggers for not seeing it sooner. Not really. With all our votes plainly available on the above-linked site, I think it's fair to say we all tasted rather well. There was certainly consistency among most of the responses and with a couple of exceptions (couldn't see either Australia or Cahors, really) I think there's a good, blind argument for the lot. I'll confess that of every appellation that was voted for, Costière de Nîmes is the one I'm least familiar with. I wouldn't have guessed it in a million years.
The actual wines are here.
I feel quite pleased that I spotted the Syrah in 390 and the Chateauneuf-y-ness of 714 (though the latter's youth, being only a 2008, suggests it's not long for this world or my bottle was perhaps a touch oxidised due to recorking for anonymity's sake). I'm astonished that 079 is mostly Syrah. There was very little varietal typicity coming out, suggesting the terroir favours the 20% Grenache in the cuvée. I'm glad 390 is the most expensive (€13) as it was also my favourite. I also recognise its label, so it may be available in the UK. If I wasn't writing this in the wee hours, I'd check.
I still think this whole thing was pretty cool. I'm not entirely sure how it helps the appellation, but that's not my job. You could argue that instead of showing how ace Costière de Nîmes is, it just showed how it tasted a lot like a lot of other Southern French appellations, but I feel that would be a touch cynical. I think it would have been better if it didn't have to go to a second round of votes, as dragging it out somewhat cooled my enthusiasm, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. Not much you could do about that, I suppose; we should have tasted better.
It surprised me that it provoked questions of integrity on one of Jamie Goode's comment strings. I decided not to respond there, as it's not my place, but here I'll call it as I see it. I don't feel it compromises any manner of journalistic integrity to participate in this as a wine blogger. Yes, it was run by a PR company in hopes of regional promotion, but the way it was run favoured the writer. We got three wines to taste that we were under no obligation to like, or even judge qualitatively. We weren't burdened with brand or supplier affection (which we shouldn't be anyway), as the wines were all blind. And it was fun for us. Suggesting we were manipulated is idiotic. They sent us wine, we tasted it, and then we got it wrong. And I'd be shocked and astonished if any of the bloggers involved suddenly started waving a Costière de Nîmes banner and swearing by their bottles. Because that's just fucking ridiculous. I don't even think the appellation is the big winner here. I'm not sure who is.
As such, I think it's the concept that wins. And probably Clair de Lune, as they made a packet, no doubt. But I'd take part in a Secret Wine again. At the drop of a hat. It was cool to be a part of and fun to taste.
PS - Congrats to the winners. I'm only a little jealous.