I have mixed feelings on blind tastings. On one hand, I find that most tasters, will inevitably select their favorite of the line-up….& it usually is the biggest, blackest, loudest, more dramatic. While that is okay for most, I ask myself, what am I learning?
We, therefore, created these blind tasting opportunities at our VINO restaurant, so we all can walk away experiencing & learning other facets of wine enjoyment.
First & foremost, I am hoping we can take advantage of the tasting’s blind-ness (NO label recognition) & explore whether we think each wine is good or not. I really don’t think we as an industry spend enough time understanding what good wine is. In the old days, one apprenticed with a Master Sommelier….for years. By working side by side & learning through their nuturing , one would more thoroughly learn all of the nuances of the craft, including understanding what a good wine is (AND also learning how to pair wines with foods, which is another topic we can discuss later). We somehow have lost that along the way.
I have seen tastings where everyone brings a hodge podge of wines, some good, & some not so good. I wonder why I would want to spend time on being able to identify a shitty wine? So, the first premise I think we should address, is what is a good wine.
If you are a wine buyer, isn’t one of your jobs to spend your monies wisely? Why invest your money in shitty or mediocre wine? Your job is to sift through the many wines & find those which deliver for the dollar, in the various appropriate price ranges/styles, that fit in with your restaurant’s schtick AND with your menu.
Blind tastings can therefore help you hone in on those skills. Identifying a wine blind is a different skill.
I, therefore, wanted to select some wines which were good & typical to use for the blind tasting. (just my opinion mind you). Then participants will at least have some benchmarks to measure & compare other wines by.
The second premise I was hoping to establish, was, IF we are learning to taste for professional purposes, whether I like the wine or not personally isn’t of primary importance.
I am may not like fish, but shouldn’t I be able to tell my customer the difference between mahimahi & tuna? And, I may not like to drink, but professionally, shouldn’t I be able to tell the customer the difference between a mai tai & a pina colada?
Furthermore…….why do I have to choose? Can I not appreciate my son for who he is & my daughter for who she is? Similarly, asssuming the wines are all good, can I not appreciate each ‘good” wine & try & to understand what it is trying to say?
Those were some of the goals we set out to showcase in this particular blind tasting, for whatever it’s worth.
This really is enjoying a Chianti at an ideal time of its life. For those asking or looking for what a good Chianti is….well, here it is. The 1997 is 90% Sangiovese & 10% :”other” grape varieties (Cabernet, Merlot & Canaiolo most notably) & is crafted by superstar enologist Franco Bernabei. I wouldn’t say this wine is grand, but it is pretty good & really is typical enough of an example.
As the gang noticed, it is red, with a slight brown-ness & orange to the rim, a noticeable murkiness & dullness to the sheen. Words like “aged” & light color pigmentation started popping up. The nose did show dried cherries, sandalwood, earth, floral, cigar box, autumn leaves, tea, as the group really was zeroing in pretty impressively. On the palate, it was dry, light to medium to medium in body, medium high acidity, medium tannins, with a medium long finish. The group also confirmed all of the nuances they smelled in the taste. The wine’s core still had vigor & a firm structure. The final 2 choices were both Italian red wine, & the majority said Tuscan Sangiovese.
2001 Charles Joguet Chinon “Clos du Chene Vert”
I wouldn’t say this wine is typical Loire Valley Cabernet Franc. It wasn’t that long ago, when, other those from Joguet, it really was hard to find, at least here in Hawaii, a RED Loire Valley wine, much less a good one.
Yes…..this one is Cru…..one of the true regional standouts……with lots going on….& not some quaffer.
With the first whiff, someone blurted out “jalapeno“….& others soon followed with a whole slew of green things. Yes, there is a green thing going on in this wine. “red fruit”, earth/game/rusticity. Someone also noted “of high quality…9/10“. Good acidity, medium bodied, long finish. Remarkably, one of the tasters bravely said Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, which caused everyone else to dive their nose back in their glass. More & more people started to nod their head in agreement. Yes.
2011 Fillaboa Albarino
Aromatic grape varieties seem to be growing in popularity & from my perspective rightfully so. Well grown & made ones can create magic with a wide array of foods. Spanish Albarino is one of those worth looking for. Maybe I am just plain picky, but finding a good one really is harder than one would think.
On the nose, the gang just started throwing out all kinds of exotic fruit smells. Some added minerality. Not one said anything about oak, malolactic or alcohol, which was a good sign. Dry, light to medium bodied, crisp, riveting acidity. Clean, fresh, alive.
2010 Champalou Vouvray
I was amazed at how one taster shouted out minerality first. I asked what kind? Limestone was the response.
Another taster was so surprised at how intense this wine tasted despite the fact it looked like it had only a little bit more color to it than water in her eyes.
Mint, floral, peach skin, pear, apple, lemongrass. Off dry, light to medium in body, medium high acidity, long finish. Most said Loire Valley. The most experienced said Vouvray & they finally convinced the others.
I simply adore this wine! It is so sheer, minerally, ethereal & effortlessly light on the palate. I have yet to find anything even remotely close to this in style, quality & finesse! Tasters….for me, this is a true benchmark!!!!!!
2009 Kunstler Riesling Trocken “Domdechaney”
I was astounded that the first word burted how on this wine was petrol. What happened to color, clarity & rim variation? At least they were headed down the right path.
The next word was mega-intense. What happened to smells/perfume?
The next word was WOW!
When one really thinks about it…..that really sums up this wine. And so, we end a blind tasting, not with adjectives or following a tasting grid…..just pure enjoyment of a sensational wine….with friends. Is there anything more special than that?