In April, we held the third of what we
expect will be an
ongoing series of wine tastings. We started with a small group of just six couples
interested in wine but with varying levels of wine knowledge -- it was more
important that we would have fun that really be able to identify the wines. The group was
formed with the following guidelines:
We will have a blind tasting and casual dinner roughly every
other month so that we rotate through the entire group once a year. The host couple
may, at their discretion, invite more people to join the fun. The evening's host selects the theme for the evening such as:
"Napa Cabernet under $50", "Single vineyard Pinot Noir from Oregon", "'Second
wines' of Bordeaux", "Australian Shiraz over $30", or whatever. Each couple
brings one bottle that fits the theme. The labels are hidden with paper
bags so that this becomes a blind tasting. Everyone tastes each wine before
dinner and selects their top three wines so we can have a consensus favorite. At dinner, we can finish the tasting wines or raid the host's cellar assuming,
of course, that the host consents. And we should
have fun doing this.
Two books that we've used to guide
our efforts are:
In our third gathering, we forced ourselves to
consider the mysteries of mature cabernet sauvignon wines from California; the
rules were that the wine must be from the 1990 vintage or older. The wines were opened roughly thirty
minutes before tasting and were not decanted. The wines were tasted blind. We
gave each member of the party a simple
scorecard so that they could
make notes on what they thought of each wine. We also asked everyone to list
their #1 favorite, their #2 favorite, and their #3 favorite. The table below
lists the wines in order of the consensus favorites. This was a fairly
consistent tasting as two clear
favorites were clearly separated from the rest.
Full red color. Very fruity with hints of
cloves, and lots of tannins. Great balance of fruit and depth -- smooth and
"This wine make me want to play the piano
and recite a poem to my wife - candlelight, whipped cream, chocolate and
Still fruity with dried cherries and
nuttiness. Maybe hints of rose petals. Very long, elegant finish with
Nice red color. Cherries, bold and spicy. A
full bodied wine with nice balance of tannins.
Heitz Cellars, Martha's Vineyard
An older wine and a bit dried out although
hints of pepper and cloves were noted. Gets better and less subtle as it
warms up from cellar temperature.
Mellow and a little musty but still a little
fruit and hints of licorice. A bit light on the finish.
A little medicinal with a musty nose - a bit
mousey or horsey. Some notes of coffee and blackberry.
Hints of chocolate and flowers on the nose.
Nice combination of of fruit and body. A little woody and tannic. Very long
The consensus ranking was determined by
3 points for each #1 listing, 2 points for #2, and 1 point for #3. Any ties are
broken by the number of #1 votes, etc.
The most-liked mature wine of the tasting was a 1987 cabernet
sauvignon from Oakford winery. However, the favorite wine of
the tasting was a 1998 Duckhorn which was tasted as the last of the seven wines.
This was a "ringer" to test whether the group could
identify a new wine compared to wines that were at least twelve years old. The
group did successfully identify the 1998 Duckhorn as the youngest wine -- five
of our nine guessing members named it as the youngest. The other four all
guessed the 1989 Duckhorn. Maybe there's something about the style of wine that
keeps it young -- or maybe we stored the 1998 Duckhorn in a way that kept it
This led us to consider the hypothesis that a younger wine
may have an intensity and sharpness in tannins that the older wines can't match.
The older wines were
clearly more mature and well-rounded -- mellower in their own way. Regardless, all of the wines were good and, in any
normal circumstance, any of us would have been happy to have drunk these with
Speaking of dinner, following the tasting, we
pulled the cork on
a lovely magnum of Mt. Eden cabernet sauvignon to go with our dinner menu:
Appetizers: Lox and kippered salmon on toast
Salad printaniere with golden beets
Grillades de boeuf with béarnaise sauce
Fresh vegetables with portabello and shiitake mushrooms
Tarte tatin with rosemary caramel sauce and caramel gelato
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Serving and preserve your wine, from the most elegant decanters
to chillers, coasters, drip savers and more. When we want wine by the glass
(when we don't think we'll finish a bottle), we use the
which automatically fills the bottle with nitrogen to preserve the wine.