Wine Tasting Cage - Masseto Gets Smacked Down by a bunch of Cali Cabs!

Pamplemousse Grille, Del Mar, CA

Tasted June 16, 2010 by rstark with 1,385 views


Eight of us converged at the Pamplemousse Grille last night to see who could come up with WOTN and get bragging rights until, well, I guess the next time we do this. We were going to follow the format from a group in L.A. where the person that brings the last place wine pays for everyone’s dinner, but we’re not that mean, so instead it was that winner would have their dinner paid for by whoever’s wine came in last.

So for weeks people agonized over which wine to bring that would eclipse the others. Would a wine with age show poorly against a bunch of “young and restless” bottlings? Would a nuanced wine from the old world get lost among a bunch of California fruitbombs? Personally, I changed my decision three times, setting on the ’90 Conseillante, since it had interesting old world characteristics while still being reasonably young and from a fruit-forward vintage.

Ground Rules: Wines were decanted according to the directions of the person that brought it, and the glasses were pre-poured before we were seated, so all nine (there was a ringer thrown in) were lined up before us. Each person ranked all 9 wines and the one with the highest points was the loser (with lowest points obviously making the winner).

Flight 1 (9 notes)

1997 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
Dark berry nose blended with menthol. Attack of berry and dark cherry. Tannins bit back a little, like many of the 97’s. A little hot. My #5, the crowd’s #3 (out of nine)
2008 JL Giguiere Cabernet Sauvignon Sawbuck USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County
87 points
$10 ringer. Cloying sweet nose. Flavor of candied strawberry, blueberry fruit, like it had been manipulated. Some decent acidity, short finish. No one was fooled ... came in second-to-last (out of 9).
1999 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Masseto Toscana IGT Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
Slightly cloudy. Two people thought it was corked, but most just thought it was a strange bottling, or maybe too much brett. Since it seemed to blow off a little through the night and there WAS a lot of fruit, I think it was something else, but still won't rate it because it didn't taste like my past experience with this wine. Dry dark plum, not many secondary charatistics except for the slight taint. Mine and the group’s #9 (last place)
2006 Viña Cobos Nico Argentina, Mendoza
89 points
Dark deep color. Raisiny nose with an alcohol top layer. Decent fruit, but mouth-biting tannins with a hot finish. My #8, the group’s #7. ‘(out of nine)
1994 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
93 points
Deep dark purple color, losing it’s brightness, showing a little age but no bricking. Mushroom, earth blended with deep plum on the nose. Mouth filling fruit with softened tannins. Main complaint is that it leaves its a finish mostly on the front palate. My #4, the group’s #6. (out of nine)
1990 Château La Conseillante France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
93 points
Losing brightness, but no bricking. Some age on the nose, along with wet earth, truffles, leather. Lite plum fruit, and medium bodied. Leather on the medium long finish. I guessed this as my wine, but still voted it as #3, the group’s #5. (out of nine)
2002 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
Inky deep purple color. Raisiny nose with a layer of alcohol on top. Dark plumy mouth-filling fruit with finish that sticks to the front palate. For my tastes, too big, too bouncy, too raisiny, too alcoholly. The group loved it, just not me. My #7, their #2 (out of nine). Withholding rating since this is obviously just not my style but others love it.
1999 Araujo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
Slightly aged appearance, cigar box on nose. Mouth filling dark plum fruit, but the finish was missing something, although there was little cigar-ash tanninny thing at the end that was nice. My #2, the group’s #4 (out of nine)
1996 Joseph Phelps Insignia USA, California, Napa Valley
96 points
Medium garnet color, bright, clear. Leather and earth on the Bordeaux-like nose. Light plum fruits. Long finish of softened pretty fruit topped with essence of tobacco and leather. Good example of perfect anima/animus balance in a wine. #1 WOTN (out of nine)
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