It was great to get back on the blind tasting saddle again! My study group was pretty quiet for a few months, but fortunately, a couple of folks sent out feelers just before Christmas expressing an interest in practicing again. On Monday night we had a few wine newbies and I learned a great deal from their tasting notes.
Our first tasting meeting took place last night at Local Root, where we also enjoyed some delicious locally sourced food thanks to our gracious host Issac. Definitely recommended if you’re visiting the River North neighborhood.
The first wine was my contribution; the final guess was a SB from the Loire Valley, but another participant pegged it as New Zealand. One of us said it was “too balanced to be from NZ.” There was pretty solid agreement on most of the grid characteristics (Clear, Day Bright, Pale, Star, Greenish Hue, On the Nose: Lime, kiwi, white flowers, pineapple – PLEASE write me if you think this is TMI!) We all felt more minerality on the palate compared to the nose, and we were pretty split as to any oak treatment.
And the next wine up was (surprise!)
Now how weird was that? We all noted more of that familiar NZ jalepeno on the 2012!
The wine I tried to identify was a very delicate white, with a combination of citrus and stone fruit. I was all over the (Old) World in terms of ID-ing the grape; the lack of obvious oak and veggie (green beans, celery, radishes on the palate) took me without much confidence to Chenin Blanc from the Loire, but I could also argue for Riesling or Albarino. Looking back, acid would have probably been higher if the wine were an Old World example of either of these grapes.
Really? Well, at least I was correct about the very light touch of oak.
Our first red was one I am pretty sure I have tasted before, maybe not this vintage. Our taster noticed the orange rim (should have been a major clue), a nose of cherries, mushrooms, cooked apple and some jamminess, which honestly confused me. There was a certain barnyard quality on the palate, along with medium + tannins. Another taster mentioned a “fast falloff.” Very confusing! I was suspecting a Grenache blend; was sure it was Old World, at least:
Next up was another Italian wine, I picked up on some bitterness almost immediately on the palate; our taster thought this one has a little age, American oak on the nose, and a nose a blue and black fruit with a touch of cinnamon. Acid and alcohol were judged medium with more coffee and dark chocolate on the palate. I thought Pinot Noir was a pretty logical conclusion but that bitterness put me Italy and was convinced it was some kind of Super Tuscan.
And we were all over the variety map on the last wine. We all figured it was USA but split between Washington and California. Our notes included full body, black fruit, fried herbs, sage, potting soil, and a jammy, tart feel. Definitely some American oak. Merlot from Washington seemed very possible as did Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fortunately we all received partial credit on the grape! The base was Cabernet Sauvignon but as you can see in this review (sorry, forgot to get a picture of this one), there’s a little bit of several grapes here!
(This review was for the 2009, but we tasted the 2011. I suspect the blend is pretty similar). 13.6%
I hope these notes are helpful to you. If you try any of these wines and have different notes, please share in the comments!