Find the expensive one! A tasting to determine if a more expensive wine can be picked out blindly.

Monterrey, Mexico

Tasted June 10, 2009 by hcampana with 762 views

Introduction

My wife and I hosted 6 co-workers of mine to celebrate our recent hiring of one of them. None of the attendants are wine geeks, so I wanted to design a tasting that would be fun and in which they could relate. I decided to repeat a themed tasting that I had done for clients a few weeks earlier. I decided to do 4 single blind flights of 2 wines each in which one of the two wines cost me 2-4 times as much as the other, and ask our guests to try and determine which one they thought was the expensive one.

I had food catered in from my favorite local restaurant, which turned out great.

Flight 1 - The Chardonnay Flight (2 notes)

Served with seared tuna won ton taco.

Before unveiling the wines, 5 of us correctly identified the Beringer Private Reserve as the more expensive wine. 3 did not.

White
2006 Beringer Vineyards Chardonnay Private Reserve USA, California, Napa Valley
91 points
Wine 1
Medium golden color that is slightly deeper than Wine 2. Initially, this wine exhibits some spritziness (CO2?), which is off putting. With time in the glass, it disolves. After it warms up a bit, the wine opens up to beautiful white flowers, serious tropical fruit and a smoky, hazelnut aroma that is very enjoyable. In the palate, it is oily, unctuous, medium to full bodied, exhibitting low acidity. Initially, the finish had a bitternes that was not welcome. The alcohol is slightly more noticeable than in wine 2. Overall, an excellent Chardonnay in the oaky, ripe, full malolactic style of the spectrum.

Vino 1
Color dorado medio que es un poco más obscuro que el vino 2. Inciiclamente, este vino exhibe una efervescencia que no es bienvenida. Con el tiempo en la copa, afortunadamente desaparece. Después de un tiempo en la copa, el vino libera flores blancas, fruta tropical seria y avellana ahumada deliciosa. En el paladar, el vino es untuoso, de cuerpo medio a corpulento y con acidez baja. Incialmente, el terminado exhibió un amargo que no fue bienvenido, pero cedió con el tiempo. El alcohol es ligeramente más perceptible que en el Vino 2. En resumen, un excelente Chardonnay en el extremo maduro, con mucho roble, y con fermentación malolactica completa del espectro.
White
2007 Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner's Reserve USA, California
87 points
Wine 2
Medium golden color. Initially, a lot more expressive than wine 1. Extrovertly floral and very open, this wine has more acidity than wine 1. Medium bodied, with alcohol very well concealed. This is a nice quaffer that has to be the lower priced wine in this duo.

Vino 2
Color dorado mediano. Inicialmente mucho mas expresivo que el vino 1. Extrovertido, floral y muy accesible, este vino tiene mas acidez que el 1. De cuerpo mediano y con el alcohol muy bien disimulado. Este es un vino agradable sin grandes pretenciones que de seguro tiene que ser el mas barato de esta ronda.

Flight 2 - Red Wine Flight 1 (2 notes)

Served with a baked Brie cheese buns with tomato chutney and spicy Kimchi and a Chilorio (spicy pork) Dim Sum.

Before unveiling the wines, 6 of us correctly identified the Yacochuya as the more expensive wine. 2 did not.

Red
2000 San Pedro de Yacochuya Yacochuya Argentina, Salta, Cafayate
95 points
Wine 1
Inky dark purple with ruby hues. Very serious nose that is packed with black fruits, steel and minerals. This wine is gorgeous and complex. Very full bodied, dense, covering the mid palate with gorgeous layers of fruit. High tannins, oak fully absorbed and a finish that grabs your tongue forever. This continues to be the best Malbec I have ever tasted. This has to be the Yacochuya. My WOTN and the group's WOTN, although it was almost equally hated by some. A controversial wine for sure, as it streches the boundary.

Vino 1
Color púrpura profundo con tonos rubíes. Nariz muy seria con abundantes frutas negras, acero frío y mineralidad. Esta nariz es excelente y compleja. En boca, el vino es corpulento, denso, con una cobertura completa en el paladar medio y capa tras capa de fruta golosa. Los taninos son substanciales, pero el roble está completamente asimilado. El terminado es largo y "prende" la lengua con sabor. Este continúa siendo el mejor Malbec que he probado hasta hoy. Tiene que ser el vino caro. Mi vino de la noche, y el vino preferido de la mayoría, aunque fue el peor vino de la noche para algunos. Este es un vino controversial porque extiende el límite de extracción al máximo.
Red
2007 Alamos Malbec Argentina, Mendoza
88 points
Wine 2
Medium ruby color. The nose portrays a very clean, pure expression of red fruits , violets and a note of tobacco leaf. Younger, more apprachable than blue wine 1, this is medium bodied, very friendly and smooth. Quite the crowd pleaser, but it lacks the power, grip and depth of blue wine 1. This has to be the less expensive wine.

Vino 2
Color rubí medio. La nariz ofrece una expresión muy clara y pura de frutos rojos, violetas y una nota de hoja de tabaco. Más joven y accesible que el vino 1, presenta una corpulencia media, muy amigable y suave. Este vino es frutal y atractivo, pero carece de la potencia, tracción y profundidad del vino 1. Tiene que ser el vino más económico.

Flight 3 - Red Wine Flight 2 (2 notes)

Served with light New England Chowder.

Before unveiling the wines, 3 people correctly identified the Clarendon Hills as the more expensive wine. 5 of us did not.

Red
2002 Mitolo Shiraz G.A.M. Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
93 points
Wine 2
Very dark purple color. What an awesome nose! This is very complex. Very open and expressive smoke, earth and gorgeous dark fruits, this is a treat to smell! In the palate it is medium to full bodied, deeply flavored, long and offering significantly higher acidity than wine 1. This is a treat to drink. I guess this must be Clarendon Hills, given the rather european nose, but...I was wrong!

Vino 2
Color púrpura obscuro. La nariz es increible! Compleja, extrovertida, ofrece notas ahumadas, con tierra recién cultivada y frutas negras copiosas, es una delicia oler este caldo! En boca, es de cuerpo medio a corpulento, con sabores profundos, largo, con acidez marcadamente más alta que la del vino 1. Este es un excelente vino. Asumo que dada la nariz marcadfamente europea, este debe ser el Clarendon Hills pero...fallé.
Red
2001 Clarendon Hills Syrah Hickinbotham Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, Clarendon
92 points
Wine 1
Very dark purple that is deceiving for an 8 year old wine. Nose is dominated by very clean dark fruits and a steely note. Full to medium bodied, offering low acidity, and slight heat, this is a more tannic wine than Green Wine 2. Excellent texture and finish. very enjoyable wine, but it is outclassed by wine 2.

Vino 1
Color púrpura obscuro que sorprende dada la edad del vino. La nariz está dominada por frutas obscuras muy precisas y una nota de acero frío. De cuerpo completo a medio, este vino tiene baja acidez y un pococ de "calor". Es más tánico que el vino verde 2. Exclente textura y final. Excelente pero ligeramente superado por el vino 2.

Flight 4 - Red Wine Flight 3 (2 notes)

Udon: Center cut angus filet over stir fried vegetables and chipotle home made pasta.

Before unveiling the wines, 3 people correctly identified the Neal Cab as the more expensive wine. 5 of us did not.

Red
2001 Neal Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Second Chance Vineyard USA, California, Napa Valley, Atlas Peak
94 points
Wine 1
Very dark ruby. The nose is classic, expressive Cabernet fruit. Seamless, even a bit elegant, with a full mid palate, great length and a juicy, delicious finish. Tannins are very soft and ripe, which lead me to guess this cannot be the Neal Cab, given that Neal tannins across most bottlings tend to be slightly dry and very noticeable. I was, of course...wrong!

Vino 1
Color rubí profundo. La nariz es una expresión clásica de Cabernet Californiano. En boca es redondo, hasta pudiera decir...elegante, con cobertura conleta en el paladar medio, largo y con un retrogusto jugoso y delcioso. La calidad del tanino debería ser la pista para distinguir los 2 vinos de esta ronda. Dado lo maduro de los taninos y su presencia secundaria en el paladar, concluyo que este vino no puede ser el Neal, pues los vinos de Mark Neal tienden a tener taninos más secos y predominantes de lo que hay en este vino. Por supuesto que...NO acerté!
Red
2001 Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon St. Helena USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
93 points
Wine 2
Dark ruby with purple tones. The nose is initially dominated by lactic aromas of caramel, with a fruit background that is a bit fuzzy. This wine seems to have been made from much riper fruit than Yellow Wine 1. In the mouth, there is more obvious tannin, a fuller body, lower acidity and more overall structure. This wine can go another 10 years without a problem. This wine is great in the mouth, but lacks a little in the nose department. Everything points to this been the Neal Cab...wrong!

Vino 2
Rubí profundo con alguna tonalidades moradas. La nariz es inicialmente dominada por aromas lácticos de caramelo y frutas un poco difusas. Este vino fue elaborado con uvas mucho más maduras que las que se usaron con el Vino Amarillo 1. En boca, los taninos son mucho más evidentes, es más corpulento y estructurado que el Vino Amarillo 1. Este vino puede vivir por una década más sin problemas. La sensación en boca de este vino es extraordinaria, pero su nariz queda a deber un poco. Todo apunta a que este es el Cabernet de Mark Neal. Por supuesto, me equivoqué.

Flight 5 - Dessert (1 note)

Served with warm center chocolate fondant.

White - Fortified
N.V. Buller Premium Fine Muscat Australia, Victoria
92 points
This sticky wine does not change much. The nose is a smorgasbord of freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, molasses, prunes and figs. In the palate, it is gooey, with a viscous texture, very low acidity and a very very sweet finish. Excellent for what it is, although it will for sure offend palates seeking elegance and better acidity.

Este vino de postre no cambia con los años. La nariz ofrece un abánico amplio de jugo de caña recién molida, remolacha, ciruela pasa e higos. En el paladar es viscoso, denso, con la consistencia de aceite de motor y una acidez muy baja. El terminado es muy, muy dulce. Un vino excelente si uno sabe que esperar, pero puede ofender a los paladares que buscan elegancia y mejor acidez.

Closing

As you can see from the flight commentary, in 3 of the 4 flights, people chose the more exensive wine correctly. While I understand that we cannot conclude anything from this given the reduced number of choices per flight (2) which sharply increases the role "luck" plays, it still made my guests feel smarter about wine.

As the evening ended, but before I unveiled the wines, I took a vote for red Wine of the Night (WWOTN) and for red Worst Wine of the Night (WWOTN). Results were as follows:

WOTN: 2000 Yacochuya (4 votes)
WOTN Runner up: 2001 Neal Family Second Chance Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (2 votes)
WOTN 3rd place: 2007 Alamos Malbec (1 vote)

WWOTN: Tie between the 2000 Yacochuya and the 2007 Alamos
WWOTN runners up: 2001 Clarendon Hills, 2002 Mitolo GAM & 2001 Neal Second Chance Cab

The corpulence and extracted nature of the Yacochuya was obviously controversial.

This was a great night. We laughed a lot, talked about wine and food, got a little tipsy and learned a little bit.

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