Wine I Like It had it’s most recent tasting at Branches Catering in West Long Branch NJ September 39, 2010. This month the ten wines represented several different wine regions rather than just one as we had done in previous months. The wine regions represented: California, Hungry, Chile, South Africa, and Italy.
Wine I Like It is a not for profit blind tasting group designed to help people discover the sorts of wine they like, and at the same time, to help winemakers, distributors and retailers, determine what consumers look for in their wines. It is especially helpful for launching new wine products and or relaunching a once popular brand that has grown a little “tired”. The Wine I like It tasting panel group consists of more than 300 members who come from all walks of life and backgrounds. The ages range from 21 to 70-plus. Some are neophytes in the wine world wanting to learn more, others consider themselves wine experts and then there are the members who just love wine and are looking for something new and different for their wine rack. The group is nearly evenly divided between male and female.
For each tasting panel, members are selected based on the day of the week they stated was the best day of the week for them to come and taste. All of the members for that particular day of the week are invited to attend the tasting, but only the first thirty to reply are accepted for the tasting, the next five are wait listed in case of cancellations, all of the other respondents are given first call for the next blind tasting date.
Each member of the panel is provided with a blank form with space for each of the ten wines being tasted. Here they are asked to record their initial impressions of the wine as to whether they like it or not based on a 0 – 5 scale with 5 being I like it a lot. There is also space for them to write notes, let us know how much they are willing to pay for this wine in a retail shop, and, if they like, guess they type of wine and wine region. The panel members are introduced to one another and then asked to refrain from speaking about wine or their impressions of each wine during the tasting so as not to influence one another.
The 25 tasters began the evening with a light, sparkling Moscato before settling down to begin the sampling.
The top wine this month was Dardano Zara Rosso 2008. Zara is a rich deep nebbiolo bend from the Langhe area of Piemonte in Italy. With 119 out of 145 points it was the clear leader. The comments ranged from “Nice texture, full-bodied, smooth, rich cherry flavors” to “dried meat taste”. “Big and complex” was noted by several of the panelists. One wrote “Crisp flavor, it would be nice with a steak.” Another stated, “Best of the reds!” While others put it simply: “My favorite!”, “Delicious!”, and “Yummy!” This wine normally sells for around $17 and the tasting panel was on track estimating they would pay up to $18 for a bottle.
There was a tie for the number two position, these two wines couldn’t have been more different from one another, yet both wines scored a total of 103 points out of 145. This Bliss Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 from California was one of the two and the other came from an area approximately 7000 miles way in Hungary, In Vino Veritas Tokaji Furmint Félszáraz (Medium-Dry) 2007.
Most of the panel surmised This Bliss was a California appellation Cabernet Sauvignon. One taster simply drew a smiley face for her comments, but most wrote the wine was “Nice aromas, big, jammy, slightly peppery and spicy with a smooth finish” One proclaimed it was amazing and another simply said “Excellent! I want barbecue! This Bliss normally sells for around $12. Here, the panel was generous, they said they would pay $17 for it.
Furmint wasn’t a grape most had tasted before, so many guessed it to be a German dry riesling or a gewürtztraminer from Germany or Austria and were surprised to discover the wine was Hungarian. The comments were unanimous: “Clean, crisp, fruit flavor of pears. Good and sweet”. One said it reminded him of salt water taffy. Another commented that it was “Nice and crisp fruit—good with Indian or Thai food” One declared it the favorite wine of the evening. The panel was on target when it came to price, they said they would pay between $15 and $16 and this wine is normally offered for sale at around $16.
Coming in with the third highest score, but still number four was Stellekaya Boschetto 2004—a red blend from Stellenbosch, South Africa. Boschetto is a blend of 40% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 10% shiraz, and 10% sangiovese. Most of the tasters commented on the smoky aromas and flavors. One taster immediately guessed she was drinking a South African wine and thought it might be a cabernet/merlot blend. References were made to the scent of “forest floor” and “band-aids”. Many agreed it was “layered, earthy, and complex with smooth tannins.” One commented the wine was “Easy to drink and good for a party”, while another stated, “Great flavor, well-rounded. I’m in love!” Here, our tasting panel underestimated the cost of this wine—$17 as opposed to the normal retail price of $31.
Rounding out the top five was Grand Sasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008 from Italy. Nearly all noted the aromas of violets and strawberry were noted. One taster opined that the wine had “lots of fruit on the nose, but drier on the palate than I thought it would be.” One person suggested “Light-bodied red —would be great with fish, pork, or chicken.” Another wrote: “Dry and flavorful—I like it!” The average price was estimated at $15.75—close to the $15 retail price.
While most of the tasters were unsure of the style and type of wines they were drinking, one taster correctly identified seven of the ten wine varietals and four of the wine regions. It was a fun and informative session for all panel members.
The next Wine I Like It Blind Tasting is scheduled for the end of October 2010 and WineILike It is actively seeking to add panel members.
1. Dardano Zara Rosso 2008 Nebbiolo blend
2. This Bliss Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008
2. In Vino Veritas Tokaji Furmint Félszáraz (Medium Dry) 2007
4. Stellekaya Boschetto 2004 40% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Merlot 10% Shiraz / 10% Sangiovese
5. Gran Sasso Montelpulciano DOC, 2009