In November of 2002, we held our fifth tasting
in an ongoing series of wine tasting parties. We started with a small group of six
couples interested in wine but with varying levels of wine knowledge. 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 fifth tasting, we tasted red wines
from the South American continent. The bottles were opened roughly thirty
minutes before tasting and were not decanted. The wines were tasted blind, in
brown paper bags. We modified our
scorecard and tasting
sheet from the ones that we have used in previous tastings to become
somewhat more organized in the way that we evaluated and ranked the wines. (The
scorecard we used was modified from
some examples that
I found on the web.) The tasting
sheet retained a section for notes
that would help our tasters identify the wines. The table below lists the wines
in order of the consensus favorites.
Port-like, very concentrated with good balance; some
notes of blackberries.
Bodega San Pedro de Yacochuya
Very dark purple, almost black in color. Full-flavored
with notes of plums.
Dark purple in color with cherry, plum, and freisia
flavors. Maybe a little musty but good balance.
Earthy but with good balance.
Fruity, strong flavor with some notes of berry and
Fruity but weak with nothing to recommend it. Smelled
Smokey with olives and peppers. Tasted flat. "Is this
Herbaceous with green olives. Like "lighter fluid".
Scoring methodology: Each bottle of wine
was given 50 points for simply being in a bottle (ie, commercially available and
not in a box) and then the score was multiplied by 2.5. This results in a 100
point scale. The
average score included all the results from all of the tasting sheets that had
at least four rows filled in. As this was the first time that we used this kind
of scoresheet, some of the scores differed greatly. So, the final score
shown above deleted the two worst scores from the average.
This was a tough group of wines to evaluate; one suspects that
there isn't much choice in South American reds and no one has cellared these
wines in our group. Interestingly, the two favorites ended in a virtual dead
heat and they were both 1999 Malbecs from Argentina -- the Ben Marco and the
Yacochuya. The consensus nod went to the Ben Marco for favorite wine based on
the overall buzz from the group. As one person wrote after tasting the Ben
Marco: "Thank god for this wine tonight." Some of the other wines did not fare
Following the tasting, we sat down to dinner with the
remaining wine from the tasting. Our menu for this evening was:
Chilled asparagus soup garnished with avocado and tomatoes
Sliced macrina breads with butter
Chicken breast filled with chevre and porcini mushrooms
with ancho chile cream sauce
Toasted greens with shaved Manchego cheese and caramelized
hazelnuts with a sherry-shallot vinaigrette
Panna cotta with berry sauce
Next tasting - Red Wines of Washington State!
Check back in early April 2003 for the tasting notes.
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