The latest Wine I Like It blind wine tasting was an eye-opener for many of the tasters. None of them were prepared to discover these wines each had an average price point of $12 and were wines most of them knew, had previously tried, or had once considered as a favorite wine. The ten wines hailed from eight different wine regions.
This tasting group seriously set about tasting and providing feedback. Most tried guessing the varietals and a few tried guessing both the varietal and region. One taster correctly identified each varietal and region of all ten wines and named the producer on three. Two correctly identified seven of the ten wines and the remaining tasters each averaged five correct indentifications.
The fifth wine tasted was correctly determined by all to be Chardonnay, with one taster correctly identifying the region. Another interesting note about the tasting: wines number one and two were only one point apart, and wines three, four, and five were each separated by two points. This was the highest rated and closest point grouping to date.
So what were the top five wines from this selection?
Well, number one was the last wine tasted: [yellow tail] Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a multi-regional blend from Coonawarra, Wrattonbully & Padthaway, Australia. Full-bodied, structured, complex, and elegant, it had aromas of ripe, black cherries, blackberries, mint, oak, and velvety smooth tannins.
Overall our tasters commented on the “smoothness and lack of harsh tannins”. Some comments included: “very smooth cab”; “a drinkable red, touch of sweetness at end”; “good flavor, smooth, yet has nice body to it”; “very yum”; “great nose, nice color, nice finish, tastes great!” and “Love it!”
Our tasters were surprised to see that this was [yellow tail] Reserve Cabernet and that it retailed for around $13 not the $18+ they had guessed.
Number two was [yellow tail] Reserve Chardonnay. This wine was correctly identified by everyone and one person correctly identified it as [yellow tail] Chardonnay from Australia. Gasps of “Yellow Tail? You’re kidding!” were heard at the reveal. Tasting it blind, they had been able to concentrate on the full-bodied wine’s melon, peach, tropical fruit rather than brand name. All of the tasters commented on the fresh palate and powerful fruit.
Some of the written comments were: “a little sweet, but good”; “dry, smooth, great dinner wine”; “a hint of oak/butter in the finish”; “It’s oaky—Chardonnay. Not sure where it’s from”; “powerful, tropical fruit”; “oaky”: “ It’s my favorite white so far.”; “ Loving these wines”; “tend not to like Chardonnay, but would drink this again”; “hint of citrus oak flavor comes through” and “nice bouquet and great flavor”.
The tasters said they would pay up to $16.80 for it. The actual price point is around $12. Both top wine’s alcohol level hovered around 13.5%.
Number three was Ramon Bilbao Crianza Tempranillo from Spain. This medium-bodied wine was a bright, deep, cherry-red with intense aromas of ripe black berries, savory hints of balsam and licorice. It was fresh, well-structured and textured with smoky cedar, spice box, leather, violets, and blackberry nuances.
All of the tasters commented on the intriguing earth, smoky aromas and the lenghty, peppery finish. A few noted a bitter edge to the cherry flavors. Overall, the wine was well received and comments included: “Nice nose, deep color, very nice”; “smooth, mellow, love it!”; “ Great flavor and body, dry finish, like this a lot”; “definitely yummy. Strong finish”; “My favorite so far”; “ love the flavor”; “smooth cherries”, and “not sure of what this is, but would drink again.” All wanted to know where this wine could be purchased and the average estimate for this $12 wine was $16.50
The first wine of the evening [yellow tail] Bubbles ranked at number four. The first thing the group noticed was the stopper or “zork”—a reusable sparkling wine stopper that the user presses down firmly to seal, and then pulls the side clasps down until a click is heard—they were intrigued. Made using the Charmat process (Tank Fermentation), Bubbles was delightfully fresh and fruity. Flavors of tropical fruits and a medium sweetness led to a delightful, crisp finish.
Some of the group thought it was a $14 Cava. The sparkling wine lovers thought this was “a delicious, fun sparkler”. One stated it was “too fruity for my taste”, but most agreed that it was a “good, general occasion bubbly”. Other comments included: “good flavor, but a twiggy after taste”; “sparkling wines are my favorite.”; “Refreshing lemon-lime, yummy and light”; “nice amount of bubbles”; “love the apricot and peach flavors’; and the final comment “It’s sparkling, it’s white, what’s not to like?” They especially liked the $9 price tag.
Rounding out the top five was Hob Nob Merlot, a red from France made in a “New World” style. The group picked up on the black-currant, plum, and blackberry aromas and flavors. Most of the group commented that it was “Full-bodied with a nice soft, dry finish”. One commented “This is interesting. I like the smooth, deep flavors would pay $15.” Written comments included: “nice tannic finish and the best so far”; and “tastes like rasins, but I think it’s merlot— nice chocolate undertones.” Most agreed they would buy it again and they would pay around $15.50 for it. They were delighted to discover it was an $11 wine.
This tasting offered several surprises, instead of tasting something new and different, they were reintroduced to some old favorites and great values.
The next wine I Like It tasting will be held at Branches Catering on January 25, 2011.
Most of these wines can be found at local retailers, including: Gerards Wine & Spirits in Point Pleasant, Wine King of Wall, Spirit of 76 in Manasquan and Monmouth Bottle Shop in Oakhurst.