The focus of a blind wine tasting is on the aromas, flavors and
colors. Rather than blindfolding everyone, which gets very messy,
all the bottles are brown bagged, numbered and corks removed before
presenting to the tasting party.
Blind Wine Group hosted a tasting recently of French red wines.
Participants each bring a bottle of wine and appetizers for 12. Or
in this case, hor d’ouvres for 12. The wines are brown bagged by
the host who also buys two of the same wine and puts them into the
line up. The object is to find the duplicate wine in the line
up. We have a vote at the end to determine that and our personal
French red is a broad category. There were 5 regions represented
but Bordeaux was the most popular with 4 out of the 9 wines
presented. Bordeaux is a
very prolific wine region in south-west France. Anyone with an
interest in wine knows this is an influential (think Meritage) and
famous (Margaux, Rothschild) wine region.
love Bordeaux, from the $10 price range to the
glad-I-bought-it-when-it-was-affordable variety. It’s a dry, medium-bodied red that can
be a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite
Verdot and Malbec. Each chateau’s vineyard is planted with the
permitted varietals they’ll use.
Depending on which side of the Gironde your wine is from, it could
be either left bank or right bank. Left bank (Paulliac, Ste
Estephe, St. Julien, Margaux, Medoc) is Cabernet dominate and right
bank (Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Cote de Castillion) is a Merlot
dominated blend. This fact never makes it on the label, that’s one
of those facts you have to memorize.
Cabernet and Merlot vines grow at
different times and rates, which spreads the risk posed by poor
weather conditions at flowering or harvest. In years when the
autumn is wet, the Cabernet Sauvignon harvest suffers from rot and
water-logging, but the earlier-ripening Merlot provides a back-up.
When the spring is wet, the Merlot flowers poorly, leaving the
Cabernet Sauvignon to take up the responsibility of providing a
Thousands of producers ferment a vast quantity of wine each
year. Every producer is
classified as a First Growth, Second Growth, and so on down to
Fifth Growth. If it’s not a classified growth then it would be a
Bordeaux AC which produces about 40% of the red wines of Bordeaux.
Bordeaux prices range from truly affordable to first growth
chateaux that produce some of the world’s most expensive wine.
Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2010 will set you back about $800 – per
bottle. And that is fairly reasonable compared to Chateau Petrus
2010 which sells for around $3,500 per bottle.
Blind Wine Group’s Bordeaux offering were all Bordeaux AC, the
affordable side of the region. Save one, a 1989 Chateau Clerc Milon
from Paulliac, a Fifth Growth and property of Mouton Rothschild.
Clerc Milon comprises 100 acres of vineyards around the village
of Milon in northeastern
Paulliac planted to 60% Cab, 30% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc,
and 2% Petite
was tasted first as is done with all older wines. The nose was
gorgeous with the classic cigar box aroma opening up to leather,
dried herbs, and coffee. A mineral quality added more complexity.
The flavors were tight at first and then opened to wonderful
concentration and balance. The vintage was an excellent one and the
reason why this 24 year old wine aged so gracefully. One famous
wine writer said “the difference between the Clerc Milon and the
Mouton Rothschild is negligible.” Considering the price, that says
Other wines tasted were 2010 Haut-Sorillon Bordeaux Supérieur, a
rich, full bodied wine with dark ruby color. I loved it. It has a
wonderful nose, plummy and woodsy, with a bit of the cigar box.
Although a Bordeaux AC, the vineyards are only 5 km from
Saint-Emilion. This wine received a silver medal from the Los
Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition. $10
2009 Chateau Moulin de Mallet also received a medal, a gold one
from the 2010 Concourse de Boudreaux. Also a Bordeaux AC, it probably comes
from the right bank with its telltale blend of 80% Merlot and 20%
Cab. It had really nice upfront fruit which was surprising for a
wine of this age, beautiful weight to the mouthfeel and a long
silky finish. $11.
2010 Chateau Haut-Mouleyre Bordeaux AC was another silver medal
winner this time from Concourse des Grands Vins de France. With its
signature Bordeaux nose, ruby color and aromas of Provence herbs
and blackberries, this wine is another everyday wine at $7.
The winner with 6 out of ten votes was
the Domaine les Grands Bois 2010 Cote du Rhone Villages with a
dense purple robe, grapey, cassis aromas and grapey flavors that
were rich and powerful. It’s a good thing it turned up last in the
line up or it would have overpowered the other wines. Expect to
spend about $14.
Of the eleven tasters, only two found
the match, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre from the Cotes
du Rousillon. The Tessellae Old Vines 2010 sells for around
the appetizers, the grilled lamb with garlic and basil, the strong
cheeses and, of course the homemade bread were the best
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