Hermit Woods Wine Stands Up To Five World-Class Grape Wines

Posted 01/22/24

On Sunday, January 14th, Hermit Woods Winery conducted a blind tasting of six wines, putting their 2019 Hermitage up against five world-class grape wines from France, Spain, and Italy. Much to Hermit Woods’s delight, Hermitage held its own. 

They dubbed this night the “Judgment of New Hampshire” about 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. Twenty-eight guests attended and were given a thirty-minute class in wine appreciation and scoring and then provided with the American Wine Society 20-point scorecard 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 scorecards. Scorecards were gathered, and the results were tallied (See the official results below).

Hermitage placed fifth, a few points behind a Chianti from Italy (348), with a total score of (340). The winner was a Spanish Garnacha (386), followed closely by a Repasso from Italy (378). The two French wines, Saint-Emilion (357), placed fourth, and Vacqueyras (339), had the lowest score of the evening. 

In addition to scoring the wines, guests were asked to label each wine as to whether it was French, Spanish, Italian, or New Hampshire, and only fourteen people correctly identified Hermitage as made in New Hampshire. 

Bob Manley, one of the founding partners at Hermit Woods, had this to say: “We were, of course, very excited about the results of our tasting; fruit wine very often do not get the same respect as classic grape wines, and the results indicate that a well-crafted fruit wine can hold its own.” He went on to say “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. A similar event was held in 2017 and 2016, achieving similar results. The 2016 event was conducted informally with six trained wine professionals in Virginia. 

Hermit Woods hopes to hold someday a similar event, including wine professionals from across New England, 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.