Blind Tasting anyone?

So many people are looking to blind taste wines these days.  Blind tasting is IN.  Well, if you want to learn something from blind tasting, then one needs to be sure what you will be tasting has character & typicity. 

Typicity?  What is good wine?  Now these are 2 characteristics one can learn something more about while blind tasting…..rather than which is the biggest, the loudest, the most impactful. 

So……we decided to do a blind tasting of RED wines the other night with some of our VINO regular guests.  All they were told was…..the wines will be classics……..we will choose 4 wines from the following list—Burgundy……Bordeaux….Rhone Valley…..Italian Sangiovese….Italian Nebbiolo….. Australian Shiraz…..Spanish Rioja   ……Argentinean Malbec……Californian Zinfandel, Cabernet or Pinot Noir…… Oregon Pinot Noir….New Zealand Pinot Noir…..  No other clues, except the wines will be typical…..have character….& will be really good.  We will serve them BLIND.  Sounds like fun to me?????   We thought it would be just another opportunity to learn. 

Here are the 4 wines that were tasted.  Included is the thought process used in the exercize.  asa4

2006 Samuel’s Gorge Shiraz “McLaren Vale”

We started of with a 91 point (according to Robert Parker) Australian Shiraz from McLaren Vale.  The wine was very dark with a blackness to the core & some browning on the rim.  There were definite “floaters”, a haziness & a black shoe polish dullness to the color.  When swirling the wine, one could readily see it had viscosity, a dense-ness & lots of glycerine / alcohol.

On the nose…..oak is what blatantly jumped out…..& there definitely was some American oak present too….not just French.  The fruit smelled very ripe.  Some said black cherries, some said currants….one said pepper & dill…..for me it was just ripe, ripe black fruit, with some dill, saddle leather, mahogany, coffee grinds….BUT all secondary to the oak.  

On the palate, the fruit was ultra ripe, (even some sweetness), lavish & forward.  The label noted 14.5 alcohol, but in the taste it seemed higher.  There was roasted chestnut, coffee grind, saddle leather, BUT the oak again was so prevalent.  The acidity seemed medium at best.  The wine really coated the palate with a thickness & opulence.  

So the questions & processing begin…Old World/New World….thick skin grape variety….warm climate…..some age…quality level.  The group settled in on Australian Shiraz, 7 years old.  Kudos, gang!  asa1

2008 Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas “Terres Brulees”

At this stage, it probably wasn’t really fair to follow the Australian Shiraz with this wine.  Tasters were saying they didn’t get anything out of the nose at first.  I guess it would be like attending a rock concert with a wall of blazing amplifiers & then trying to have a very quiet conversation with someone afterwards.  A REAL question of adjusting the volume.

This wine also had a blackness to its core with some browning at the very edge of the rim.  When swirling, the wine had far less viscosity/thickness.

The nose was much fainter, but there was musk, peppercorns, meatiness, roasted herbs, leather & subtlely gamey.

On the palate. it was much lighter in weight, thickness & alcohol.  It had a real stoniness, gaminess & rustic edge, though it did NOT leap out of the glass at all.  One had to really search for it all.

The tasters concluded it was Old World, 5 to 6 years old, medium quality.  asa3

 1995 Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico “Riserva”

The tasters quickly jumped all over this wine.  They loved the perfume & how outgoing it really was.

It definitely had a rust hue to it & the group immediately said either aged Pinot Noir or Sangiovese right off the bat, just based upon sight.

On the nose, everyone agreed it had complexity & the wine had age to it.  One person alrady started talking about top quality, aged, Chianti……which everyone jumped on that bandwagon with their first taste.

They definitely banged the” banker”!!!!!!  Impressive.  asa2

 2006 Cavallotto Barolo “Bricco Boschis”

We deliberately chose the more classically styled Cavallotto Barolo to taste next.  For tasters, this gave them an opportunity to sample a Sangiovese & a Nebbiolo side by side.  It really is a different experience when one is trying these kinds of wines blind.

There, however, was NO way of fooling the tasters.  Right out of the gates, some said–tar & roses, to which another added, earthy & tannins.  The conversation quickly ended with 7 year old Barolo….of high quality…..with everyone looking at me to unveil the wine.  Yes, they were right….& it happened all so quickly.

Thanks to all who participated.

The more important lesson I hoped this tasting showed to participants….is what is good wine…..  It was fun, we’ll do it again soon.

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