Thursday, January 18, 2007

Blind Tasting: Bordeaux Varietals, Part I

One of my wine and food resolutions for 2007 is to do more blind tasting. I love the idea of tasting blind, letting your senses, and only your senses take control (isn't that some 1980's pop song?). Professional wine ratings, pre-conceived notions, and all other biases should go right out the window.

I would love to participate in a blind tasting of the sort that Eric Asimov's gang do for the NY Times Wines of the Times column. These folks have the resources on hand to do blind tastings in a scientific way. They try to control the variations in the wines, so that to the extent possible, they reflect variations in the skill and style of the producer, the quality of the grapes, the terroir, or the vintage. Recent NY Times blind tastings include, for example, 2003 St Emilions : 25 wines, all 2003, all from the St Emilion appellation, all at $100 or less. Or slightly less scientific because of the inclusion of several vintages, Washington State Merlots: 25 Merlots, all Washington State.

I cannot do that kind of tasting - falta dinero, as they say in Espanol. But I can try to approximate the scientific nature of those tastings while hosting an event that will be educational and fun, and that asks participants to get involved in selecting the wines we will taste.Our goal for this first blind tasting is to compare young wines from various regions, all made from Bordeaux grapes. Not scientific, by any means - there might be 5 or 6 vintages, wines made mostly from Merlot and others made mostly from Cabernet Franc, and others that are blends. But this is our first blind tasting and it has to be fun and easy for people to participate. I didn't want to get too strict the first time. You know, the first one is free, get 'em hooked, and then I can say things like "bring the biodynamic 2001 Saumur Champigny of your choice."

One good thing is that all participants have lots of experience drinking wine. I suspect that they will bring interesting wine to the tasting. They also have a good sense (so they think) of their preferences. It will be interesting to see how my rogue wine from Oregon and my quiet beauty from Long Island measure up. I actually have not delved very deep at all into Bordeaux varietals, so this is also an excuse for me to get an unbiased sense of how to further explore, should I choose to.

Here is the set-up:
Blind Tasting of Bordeaux Varietal Wines

Everyone is bringing one wine A) that is made predominantly from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Cabernet Franc, or a blend of the three; and B) that is not older than the 2000 vintage; and C) who's identity will be kept secret until after the blind part of the tasting is finished.

I hope that participants will bring a variety of wines - Bordeaux of course, but also Long Island, California, who knows what else. We will remove the capsules and the corks an hour before tasting, put the wines in paper bags, and taste through them, each participant selecting their three favorite wines, in order. A 1st place vote is worth 5 points, a 2nd place vote is worth 3 points, and a 3rd place vote is worth 1 point.

I am entering three wines, and one of them is a beauty from Long Island's North Fork that I really believe will finish in the top 3...tune in next time for the results of the tasting.

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