The guessing game

Blind tasting line-up – with a few interlopers (shop samples)


Ah, the monthly challenge of blind tasting … can you tell your Chardonnay from your Chenin, your Syrah from your Sangiovese? This month there were a couple of easy numbers, some real surprises and some that were completely off the wall. It all makes for a great evening!


Sancerre 2009, Cuvée G.C.  Jean-Max Roger

Phew, an easy start. All eleven of us (I am pleased to report) recognised the old world Sauvignon Blanc and so headed for the Loire.  The grapes in this wine are mostly from the Le Grand Chemarin vineyard in the village of Bué, with stony, clay-limestone based soils.  Moderate gooseberry notes, a good mineral streak, very long … from one of the premier ACs, Sancerre, in a warm year, so lots of body and ripe fruit.  Very good. 

IMG_7410 Not so simple.  Allende 2006, Rioja blanco. Lovely colour, dense mid yellow with gold hints.  Most of us thought this was old world – but had forgotten about white Rioja, here 50/50 Malvalsia and Viura grapes.  Very rich, tasted as if it were almost off dry, hugely oaked, fruit somewhere in there.  Good length. 
Meursault Premier Cru Les Charmes, Vincent Bouzereau, 2002, which had us all foxed.  A great year, a great producer, very assertive nose, some toffee apple in there, but amazingly fresh on the palate without being obviously acidic.  Perhaps not typical Meursault but impressive. No one I think spotted the Chardonnay from this classic region and village.  IMG_7423
IMG_7425 After we had learned what this was I asked after the vintage – which is written in huge letters on the label!  So blind tasting can be blind in more than one sense.  Argilo, Vouvray Sec, Bourillon-Dorléans, 1999.  Very attractive flowers and apple on the nose, lots of development, very good acidity (which was the clue that this is Chenin Blanc), rich and delicious.  Although technically dry, some residual sweetness.
IMG_7426 IMG_7431
First of an (unplanned pair of wines) made with Pinot Noir. Savigny-les-Beaune Premier Cru, Cuvée A. Girard, Hospices de Beaune 2004. Quite a deep colour for Pinot, not very obviously Pinot nose but that’s what the consensus was (rightly), fine velvety texture.  Some thought it was New World, but in fact it was red Burgundy.  The second Pinot, promoted in the batting order for the sake of comparison, everyone thought was New World and indeed most thought New Zealand, correctly: Felton Road Pinot Noir 2004.  Rich, deep and fresh, a completely different style from the red Burgundy.  IMG_7429
IMG_7454-1 Most thought wine this was Italian – because I had brought it – a drawback of a tasting which was not truly blind.  The further thoughts were either to place it in the North (Piedmont) or the South, which just left the Tuscany of the famous areas.  Cloves and sour cherries and dark plum fruit, in fact Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Boscarelli, 2002 (bottle on the right of the picture on the right). 90% Sangiovese, with some help from Mammolo, Canaiolo and Colorino, a  blend of traditional Tuscan grape varieties, aged in old and large barrels. Very classic.  
On the left in the picture above was a complete mystery, after an initial punt on a very warm part of Beaujolais was ruled out.  Spicy, dense fruit, good palate, some complexity but rather short, what could it be?  Most were in the New World, which was a reasonable deduction.  Azamor Petit Verdot, Alentejano, Portugal – an unusual example of the minor blending grape from Bordeaux being given a star role.  IMG_7434

I have only a very weak memory of this wine. But that could be due to palate or just social fatigue – it was wine number nine, or rather number twelve as there were three other shop samples not written up here.  We got the continent right, but no one had the correct grape variety: lots of mint and menthol on the nose, dense red and some black fruit, impressive, say my notes.  In fact it is Ridge 1996, Lytton Springs, California, 78% Zindfandel, then Carignan and Petit Syrah. 

OK – this was a lot easier, especially in contrast to Portuguese Petit Verdot!  Most plumbed straightaway from Shiraz and for the Barossa and were right, more or less. Typical densely packed black fruit, pepper, some richness, good refreshing finish.  ?migré, The Colonial Estate, Barossa Valley, 2003, Australia, is a blend of predominantly Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre. One final red to go!  IMG_7437
IMG_7440 And the last red was a complete mystery!  Initially this wine was not very expressive and then gradually red fruit and some oak began to appear, but what was really noticeable was the high tannin levels.  We thought it was in the Old World, correctly and were offered Italy as a clue – so that’s just down to 500 or so common varieties then.  Let’s cut to the quick: Toar 2005, Masi, Veneto, Italy. It is mainly Corvina (as in Valpolicella) but is cut with Oseleta, which I am happy to admit I have never heard of before. It produces tiny berries for wines of great concentration and must be massively tannic to beef up the normally tame Corvina to this extent. The name Toar refers to the volcanic soil of the region. 
The first sweet wine proved to be a star and therefore merits two pictures, one for the  bottle and one for the splendid colour, in real life a mid salmon pink turn towards orange.  ‘Bright copper’ says another commentator.  Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray, Le Marigny, Sélection de Grains Nobles, 1990 was rich, luscious and balanced, our friend Chenin Blanc again – see the dry Vouvray above.   You can see the texture in the impressive ‘tears’ on the glass, but it is so brilliantly set off by continuing acidity which keeps this 21 year old in healthy mid-life.  A treasure probably best shared with a group of friends! IMG_7450IMG_7446
IMG_7456-1 And finally – a technically sweet red wine which people tried to place in Italy and finally got to the South of France.  Cirera, Domaine Madeloc, Pierre Gaillard, Banyuls 2005, was not that sweet in fact and slightly spirity, as benefits a Vin Doux Naturels.  Made from Black Grenache, it is surprisingly tannic.  Overall it is certainly robust and no push over. Not sure it would do well with chocolate as per the classic match. 
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