Blind Rhone Varietals from Around the World

Salty's Pub, Clifton Park, NY
Tasted Thursday, May 26, 2011 by kenv with 424 views

Introduction

My regular Albany-area group met to to blind taste 18 Rhone varietal wines from around the world. Cousin Matthew brought all the wines (except the first one), generously pulling a broad range of his favorites from around the world.

The group knew only that the wines were Rhone varietal wines (though some still guessed Cabernet for one flight). I knew the general theme of each flight and some of the wines, but generally not the order, and in most cases, I had no idea which wine I was drinking. So, roughly single blind for me, and double blind for the group. With so many wines, we decided to vote for Wine of the Flight (WOTF) for each flight, then reveal, rather than an overall WOTN.

The whites (Flight 1) were all opened and recorked at 4:30. The reds were all double-decanted between 7am and 8am. The tasting began about 7:30 and ended about 10:30.

Flight 1 - Flight 0: Leftover from Last Tasting. (1 Note)

  • 1982 Château Lynch-Bages 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    [DD at 3pm.] Way out of place at this tasting. A guy in our group had brought the 1982 Grand Puy Lacoste to a Lynch Bages vertical by mistake. He felt compelled to bring it this time to make up for his horrible crime (though the 82 GPL had been my WOTN last time ;). Anyway, this is a terrific bottle of Bordeaux which has drunk well its whole life and I'm sure will continue to for at least another decade. Still tannic, but the tannins are so sweet. Just a gorgeous wine, but an odd way to start a Rhone tasting.

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Flight 2 - Flight 1: Whites (3 Notes)

All opened and recorked at 4:30. Tasted around 7:30. Perhaps the most surprising flight to me because I really enjoyed each of these.

Flight 3 - Flight 2: Grenache (3 Notes)

Flight 4 - Flight 3: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre Blends (3 Notes)

  • 2000 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Chaupin 93 Points

    France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

    100% Grenache. Black pepper and black fruit in the nose. Sweet red fruit on the palate, but a lot of tannin in the finish and some of it is green. May be terrific in a few more years or maybe not. 93? points. 1 vote for WOTF.

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  • 2001 d'Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings 94 Points

    Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale

    70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre. Gorgeous red fruit nose. Really exquisite in the mouth. Must be at its peak. Loads of pleasure here. 11 votes for WOTF, but I liked the Pandora even more.

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  • 2002 Alban Vineyards Pandora 96 Points

    USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley

    80% Grenache, 20% Syrah. Stunning nose. Thick and delicious with loads of harmonious tannin. A very big wine. A total joy to drink. 2 votes for WOTF, including mine.

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Flight 5 - Flight 4: Syrah 1 (5 Notes)

  • 1996 d'Arenberg Shiraz The Dead Arm 95 Points

    Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale

    Nose of black cherries, mint, and spice. Rich black fruit. Long sweet fruit finish. Just a fabulous wine. Expansive and delicious. I could drink it all night! 11 votes for WOTF, including mine. In his original review from Feb. 2000, Parker said "aged in 100% new oak, tipping the scales at a whopping 14.9% alcohol, yet has a glorious level of fruit and extract." He also called it "port-like". I had no sense at this stage of its life that is is port-like. It has mellowed into a just stunning wine, that no one thought was Australian.

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  • 1998 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde

    France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Côte-Rôtie

    Nice sweet fruit, but some odd greenish tannins. Not sure what to make of this. NR. 0 votes for WOTF.

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  • 1999 K Vintners Syrah Walla Walla Valley 94 Points

    USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley

    Tight but exquisite nose. Smooth, sweet, silky mouth feel. Delicious stuff. 4 votes for WOTF. Clear 2nd favorite for me and the group. Looking at the notes here in CellarTracker, it is hard to believe this is the same wine others have tasted.

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  • 2000 Alban Vineyards Syrah Seymour's Vineyard

    USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley

    Inky, oaky nose. Massively oaky, but very tasty. Needs 5-10 years for the oak to integrate. Hopefully, it will. Then this will be 94-96 points. 1 vote for WOTF.

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  • 2002 Pax Syrah Cuvée Keltie

    USA, California, North Coast

    Big gunky nose. So big and rich, but with an unpleasant medicinal streak. NR 0 votes for WOTF.

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Flight 6 - Flight 5: Syrah 2 (4 Notes)

Closing

A lot of terrific wines. Really too many for one evening, but somehow we managed. Thank you, Matthew!

Chef John Marzilli once again did a terrific job with the food, not only delicious, but well-matched to the wines.

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