Blind-tasting challenge #2

Here are my tasting notes for a second blind-tasted wine. This time a white, selected, opened, chilled and hidden by a trusty assistant (she had a couple glasses too).

Appearance :

Clarity : clear

Intensity : medium

Colour : lemon

Other Observations : with legs

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Nose :

Condition : clean

Intensity: medium +

Aroma Characteristics : citrus (lemon), white flowers, oak notes (smoke),

Development : Developing

Palate :

Sweetness : dry

Acidity : medium +

Alcohol : medium

Body : medium +

Flavour intensity : medium +

Flavour characteristic : citrus (lemon), oak (smoke, toast), green fruit (green apple)

Finish : medium –

Conclusions :

Quality level : good

Level of readiness : can drink now, potential for ageing

Identity : Chardonnay, oaked, from a moderate to warm climate. I ventured a guess of Australia. I thought about California but I was missing the usual peanut notes.

Price category : mid-priced

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The wine : Au Contraire, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, 2013

Once again, I didn’t disgrace myself too badly. I did misfire on the region : Sonoma California instead of Australia, but I got the variety, the climate and the wine making technique. Encouraging. Also this is a good value wine for $20 or less, very well integrated oak, nice roundness. Have a trusty assistant get you a bottle.

Blind tasting challenge #1

As part of my WSET training, I force myself to blind taste wines and go through the description process that I have to apply. This could potentially be embarrassing, but it could be fun too. I grab a bottle off my wine rack (among a dozen options), then I put it in my trusty blind tasting sock, open it and then well, the magic happens. Well the magic is basically me going through my checklist of characteristics of the wine, it’s not very exciting as a spectator sport even though it’s like the Superbowl in my mouth. At the end I will venture a guess as of the nature of the wine and a judgement on its quality Simple in principle, complicated in practice.

The trusty wine sock

The trusty wine sock

Appearance :

Clarity : Clear

Intensity : pale

Colour : Ruby

Other Observations : with legs

I need better lighting for these pictures...

I need better lighting for these pictures…

Nose :

Condition : Clean

Intensity: medium +

Aroma Characteristics : red fruits : red cherries, raspberries, strawberries, fruit jam, stewed fruit, plum

Development : Developing

Palate :

Sweetness : dry

Acidity : high

Tannin : medium –

Alcohol : medium

Body : medium –

Flavour intensity : medium +

Flavour characteristic : red cherry, plum, prune, stewed fruit, redcurrant

Finish : medium –

Conclusions :

Quality level : acceptable

Level of readiness : can drink now, potential for ageing (but not much, maybe a couple years)

Identity : New World Pinot Noir, warm climate

Price category : mid-priced

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The wine : Mohua Pinot Noir 2012 from Central Otago, New Zealand

I got the New World and the variety and Central Otago is considered a warm region so, I didn’t do too bad. The winery’s tasting notes mention liquorice and cranberry, which I didn’t get at all… This did not end up too badly. I’m sure the next one will see me comically fail. Trust the process they say.

 

Fooled by a Sicilian, COS Nero di Lupo

COS Nero di Lupo IGT Sicilia 2010

Region: Sicily, Italy

Grape: 100% Nero d’Avola

Price: around $29

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The second Sicilian wine of the weekend was served blind by a friend over diner and of course I fumbled the tasting pretty bad! I didn’t even come close on the variety or the region. Turns out the wine came from COS in Sicily, the winery that did the Pithos Bianco that I liked so much. They’re based in Vittoria, (Southeastern Sicily) like Occhinpinti. It’s a relatively recent winery that uses biodynamic methods, no chemicals, only natural yeasts and small amounts of SO2. The name of the wine, Nero di Lupo means Black of the Wolf, I’m not sure it sends the right message, wolves are scary, but let’s not dwell on semantics.

Eye: light to medium ruby

Nose: Clean, medium intensity, red and black fruits along with something deeper, more elusive that reminded me of Burgundy reds (clearly I was wrong).

Palate: dry, medium to high acidity, light to medium body, medium tannins.

That’s a smooth wine. The Nero d’Avolas I had before were a little on the rougher sides with intense tannins and a darker, more powerful feel. This wine is one smooth Nero d’Avola. Aromas of red fruits are present but the wine is also well structured and really, I couldn’t get past the smoothness. I actually thought it might be a Pinot Noir from Burgundy which was of course way off but it gives you a rough idea of how much I was impressed. It reminded me of a late summer afternoon on a Syracuse terrace watching the quiet sea lapping around Ortiggia.

Food pairings: I had it with spicy Italian sausage and pasta in tomato sauce. I think it’s a great pasta wine and it would work with any Sicilian or Southern Italian dish.

Overall opinion: I learned two things by drinking this wine; first, I need to step up my tasting game. Second, I definitely like the COS winery, I’ll try to get my hands on a bottle of their Cerasuolo di Vittoria (the one Sicilian DOCG) for instance that was reviewed by the Wine Wankers a while ago.They described it as “strangely interesting”’ it sounds about on par for the course for COS wines.