Christmas Blind tasting competition

The dreaded blind tasting competition. Served single blind (we knew the wines being featured, but not the order of pouring) the task was to put a country of origin, grape variety and a price on each wine. I got 6 out of 10. The winner got 8. My excuses for not doing better? Well, none really. I had actually identified two wines correctly and then swapped them round in an indecisive panic as we submitted our answers. The red Burgundy was an incredibly deep, purplish, extracted colour and was giving few clues to its origin. The other two I got wrong were hugely embarrassing – thinking a white Burgundy was an Aussie riesling. Yikes! Blind tasting as a means of evaluating wines objectively is an excellent exercise. As a competition it is great fun, but a bit of a hit-or-miss parlour trick. It should be seen for what it is: a bit of light-hearted amusement.

Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame” 1989, £65.00
Pale golden yellow. Very biscuity nose – like brioche. Tightly structured, light body and fine mousse. Slightly green with herbaceous notes. Lemony fruit and crisp, green apple acidity. Might well need some more bottle age I think. I have never tasted this wine before and found it surprisingly light and crisp for such a Grande Marque.
Not served blind

Geoff Weaver (Australia) Riesling 1996, £7.99
Fairly deep, golden yellow colour. Has some boiled sweet character on the nose and delicate, floral notes. Not obviously oaked. Very savoury on the palate with crisp lemony acidity masking buttery, elegant, high quality fruit. Nice steely finish. My guess: Pouilly-Fuissé.

Vavasour (New Zealand) Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 1996, £13.49
Pale straw colour. Lovely nose with a sweetish, acetate component and quite green and cabbagey too. Dry and grassy on the palate too with lots of lime and grapefruit flavours and acidity. Creamy texture too – quite mouth-filling. This is lovely New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

Talley (California) Chardonnay 1995, £14.99
Incredibly deep yellow colour. Very big and Burgundian with stinky cabbage notes before rich, tropical fruit and creamy oak. Lovely chewy texture with more unctuous, tropical fruit and excellent lemony acidity. Lovely finish. A fine chardonnay. Fruit character says New World, so must be the Talley.

Château de Fuissé Pouilly Fuissé Vieilles Vignes 1996, £17.49
Very pale colour, tinged green. Not giving much on the nose. Flowers? Sweetness in background. So little fruit on the palate which is swamped with a bucketload of broad, generous acidity. Very confusing. I guess by a process of elimination this is the riesling?

Andreo Oberto Barbera d’Alba “Giada” 1995, £13.99
Intense purple/black colour. Very deep and youthful. Intense nose with bramble fruit, spice and little bit of shoe polish. A cedary note too. Sour cherry fruit and I’m sure there’s more to this, but really it’s all acidity at the moment that dominates the finish. I think this is the Barbera. Not enough fruit but could develop well.

Domaine Bertagna Vougeot 1er Cru “Clos de la Perrière” 1995, £21.99
Slightly lighter, slightly more red in the colour. Big, savoury claret like nose. Violets and a hint of confectionery. Mouth coating tannins. Very tangy with cherry fruit to the fore. Quite acidic at the moment and needs food. Might be the Burgundy or the other Italian? Guess: Coltassala

Castello di Volpaia Coltassala 1993, £15.49
Deep ruby red tinged with brick. Slightly high, confected note on the nose. Nice sweet, cherry fruit and enough tannin and acid to balance. Decent length. Another food wine. Guess: Vougeot

Château Leoville-Barton 1989, £34.99
Deep, solid red, just fringed with orange. Classic claret nose of cassis and cedary wood. Medium bodied. Still young. A little bit austere at this stage with maybe not enough fruit showing through, though a lovely vanilla roundness and great length. This is a nicely structured wine. Well balanced, will improve and keep for many years. Claret.

Jim Barry “The Armagh” Shiraz 1994, £29.99
Intense, deep, purple shiraz. Big, hedonistic, blackberry and blueberry fruit on the nose. Strikes the palate with loads of tannin but equal amounts of deep, dusty blue/black fruit. Full bodied and with great length. Coats the mouth. Excellent, serious stuff.

Quinta do Passadouro Port 1992, £19.99
Dark and even youthful colour. Alcohol and a slightly sherried quality to the nose. Brown sugar too. Sweet and intense on the palate this is a nice, soft Port with plenty of chunky fruit and good balance.

Peter Lehmann Fortified Shiraz Bin AD2016 1995, £11.99 (37.5cl)
This tasting came on the back of a “lost weekend” of conspicuous consumption. By this stage the competition was over and my notes on this wine are sketchy. Very un-Port like nose – more like Poteen. Huge and alcoholic but filled with sweet fruit. Maybe a little one dimensional?
Not served blind

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