Lastnight we had a blind tasting of 6 red wines. The purpose was to try to identify the four classic red grapes — pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and merlot – by appearance, nose and palate. We also threw in two other favorites – a zinfandel and malbec – to make it more fun and challenging. Altogether 37 Millennials participated in the tasting, and we voted on our favorite at the end before revealing the label and price. The star of the evening was a cabernet sauvignon from a brand new winery in Napa! Read on for more details and the name of the winning wine.
Fortunately for us, all of the wines except the malbec were donated by wineries. The pinot noir from Robert Mondavi Winery (2007 Carneros, $26) was the easiest to identify blind. The color was a light ruby and the nose had perfect typicity of strawberries, earth and sour cherry on the palate. The zinfandel donated by Arminda Winery (Poizin, 2007, $25) was also easy to guess with its bright berry fruit and white pepper finish. More challenging was the big merlot from St. Clement (2005 Napa Valley, $28) with lots of dark fruit, big tannins, herbs and muscle. The syrah from Little Vineyards (2005, Sonoma Valley, $27) was a symphony of black berries and dark chocolate with soft easy drinking tannins. Compared with the Fuerza malbec (2003, Mendoza, $5) from Argentina which also had velvety tannins and lush blackberry fruit – though without the concentration of the syrah – it became more challenging to identify blind.
The cabernet sauvignon from Delgadillo Cellars (2001, Napa Valley, $85 allocated) was easy to identify with its classic dark fruit, cassis and some secondary notes of earth and leather from its 36 months in French oak and 3 years bottle aging. The wine has layers of flavor and complexity with a very elegant long finish and soft tannins. When we took the class vote for first and second choice – before revealing label and price – all six wines received votes as the favorite. However the wine star of the evening with the most votes was the Delgadillo Cabernet Sauvignon.
***** 2001 Delgadillo Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($85)
A dark rich ruby wine with an intense red fruit nose with cassis, earth and leather. Deep layers of complex flavors, soft rounded tannins, and a very long finish. A truly elegant wine that is enjoyable to sip and savor alone, or would pair well with rack of lamb or pork tenderloin. Available by allocation at http://www.dcellars.com/delgadillo/page/who.jsp.
The 40 Millennials in Bus 305W tasted through 6 white wines recently in a blind tasting format. The purpose was to attempt to identify the classic varietals by color, nose, and palate structure. A classic varietal is defined as one which must “have manifested QUALITY over a long period of time, AND have done so in more than one place in the world.” Therefore according to experts such as Jancis Robinson and Karen McNeil, there are 5 classic white grapes: chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, chenin blanc, and semillon. We also added a sixth grape which is quite popular with Millennials – gewürztraminer.
The chardonnay was easy to identify with it buttery apple and vanilla oak notes, and the sauvignon blanc was fairly straightforward because it exhibited some of the classic grass and grapefruit notes, but was missing the tell-tale “cat pee/gooseberry notes” that are often present. The Semillon was quite challenging because it had a rather unusual nose of ripe fig and guava – and for most students, it was their first time to try it. The riesling and chenin blanc were easy to mix-up because they both had lovely floral and peach notes, but the chenin had a touch of lanolin which distinguished it from the more minerally riesling.
The simplest grape varietal to recognize however, was the gewürztraminer that jumped out of the glass with a nose of roses, honeysuckle and apricot. It also turned out to be the favorite with 25 people voting for it as their number one wine star of the evening. The reasons included not only the beautifully perfumed nose, but the residual sugar of around 3.5 – which set it apart from the other drier wines. Food suggestions includes spicy Asian, chicken with cream sauce, Thanksgiving dinner, or as a great picnic wine.
***** Fetzer Vineyards Gewürztraminer 2007 ($7)
With a perfumed nose of roses, honeysuckle and apricots, the wine is just as pleasant to smell as it is to drink. On the palate, sweet notes of honey mingle with apricot and glide across the tongue with a pleasing acid finish. Residual sugar of around 3.5% makes this a semi-sweet, rather than a dry wine. Great by itself as dessert or with spicy Asian cuisine. See www.fetzer.com. We purchased the wine at Trader Jo’s.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and everyone is seeking that perfect bottle of wine for a romantic evening. While still wine can be quite enticing, bubbles are usually the preferred drink for Valentine’s Day.
With this in mind, the SSU Wine Club with 31 millennials met the first week of February to taste 5 sparkling wines. They even tried a sparkling cosmo – made with sparkling wine, vodka and juice. After the vote was taken, a clear favorite emerged — the Reserve Pinot Noir Rose from Domaine Chandon.
***** Domaine Chandon Reserve Pinot Noir Rose ($30). Everyone was impressed with the beautiful pink color with small streaming pearls of bubbles. The flavors of strawberry and yeasty biscuit, with a cleansing acid finish were delightful. Goes well with a box of chocolates!