This meeting of Overton’s blind tasting group should have been a so-called ‘BBC 2’, that is on a theme, in this case, sparkling wine. But we postponed that for another day and so had a completely random tasting, each person bringing a bottle of their choice. And my, was it difficult … or were we just distracted by the unusually hot weather, good company and the mild effects of alcohol? But in the midst of all the increasingly desperate there was a blind tasting bulls-eye …
The first of the fairly pale white wines was the deepest in colour and had something about it – bottle age? old oak? In fact it the slightly honeyed and yeast notes were the result of keeping the must on the skins for some time. Under those slightly rustic tones there was some peach cordial fruit, decent acidity and length. Cos Péz, Vinos Atlanticos, Bodegas Forjas del Salnés 2010 made from but not tasting particularly like Albarino because of the way it is made.
The consensus here was that this was Riesling – was that the hint of petrol? There was certainly some apple and citrus fruit, but that covers a gamut of white wines. We missed the ‘wax’ note that might have given the clue or perhaps, as a youthful wine, it hadn’t really developed it. What we could agree on was that at a mere £6.95 a bottle this Semillon Blanc, Barossa Valley, Peter Lehmann, 2011 was a fantastic bargain for an everyday quaffing wine. There are wines at this price level which are definitely worth drinking.
Every now and then – in perhaps 1 in a 100 bottles? – someone will say: I have drunk that before (common) … and then name the wine/producer (very rare). Rob, take a bow: after some general discussion of this fragrant wine, light on the palate, with a slight stoniness, he plumped correctly for Francois Cotat’s Sancerre. Wow!! Floral rather than typical grassy or grapefruit for Sauvignon Blanc, elegant, very good: F Cotat, Le Culs de Beujeu, AC Sancerre, 2006. Next time we expect you get the vineyard right. Fancy thinking this was Les Monts Damnés!
It is the warmest summer we have had in England for some years so there had to be some rosé. I nearly brought another, but at least I guessed the provenance but not the producer of this wine correctly. Pale salmon pink (so might be Provencal), weighty on the palate, strawberries and rose petal on the nose, herby, very polished, great with food. And yes it was Bandol, top area for rosé: Mas de la Rouvière, Domaines Bunan, AC Bandol, 2009.
On to the reds. I can confidently say that we could have spent a lifetime guessing the identity and even the age of this wine and we still would have got it wrong. Even the person who shared it with us did not recognise it … sweet, ripe black fruit on nose and palate, lean palate, hints of tobacco and chocolate, not really a hint of its two decades in the bottle: Ridge, Petite Sirah, Sonoma County, 1993. A remarkable testament to that truth that the wine is made by a great property all the normal rules go out the window.
The next two wines, radically different in style, were from the same country if fact the same (large) region and same grape variety. We thought the first might be a right bank claret, Merlot dominant) and that the second might be Spanish for its lifted new oak, perhaps even American oak. Mmm … we weren’t even close. And worse I did not recognise the grape variety which probably has had more words written about it on this website than any other! I did say it was a hot and long evening … The first wine was a somewhat lacklustre Chianti, seven years old now so losing its fruit and yet to gain compensating complexity: Villa Calcinaia, Chianti Classico, 2006. Finally, there was a shiny new oak, mocha and sweet fruit, tar and high tannins of La Fralucca, Ciparisso, Sangiovese, Suvereto, 2008. Accomplished, very new world example of the Tuscan coast. Clearly there is still some work to do on my Sangiovese project!