Blind Tasting: Sunday lunch with Piers

This week a prize for the person who can correctly attribute the following quotations to their respective authors.  Which is the work of Michael Broadbent, octogenarian auctioneer of Christie’s fame and monthly columnist for Decanter, famed for cornering the market in columns that challenge the Commonwealth Games for irrelevance given that they exclusively concern wines so rare than none of the readership will come within cooee of ever drinking them even if they lived for the next 100 years; and which is the work of Oberon Kant, fictitious wine fart and purported author of the greatest work ever written about wine, namely Oberon Kant’s Big Book of Wine?

Quotation A: “Upon arriving at dinner I favour a glass of champagne (vintage only).  One of the masculine houses – such as Bollinger – and preferably with considerable bottle-age.  Of late, I have been particularly enjoying the 1927, in hand-blown magnums.  It really is a waste of time to bother with anything else.”

Quotation B: “I feel it appropriate to devote the remaining space to what I have always alluded to as the ‘Everest’ of Port, Quinta do Noval 1931.  I am hesitant to admit that, over the years, I have drunk it many times.  Different bottles and bottlings, and rarely more than a single bottle on each occasion, until two months ago when, at lunch, our host celebrated his birthday by opening and serving no fewer than 7 bottles.”

First correct answer wins the bottle of wine from my collection that I am most keen to offload.

Anyway, as we all know I aspire to be the next Broadbent or Kant (Oberon rather than Immanuel, but now that I think about it maybe either will do) and towards that end I present a report of the wines consumed at lunch last Sunday at the wonderful Piers’s flat.  As it was a blind tasting lunch, the notes of the wines are presented first, with my guess and then the identity of the actual wine revealed subsequently.

Wine No. 1

Mid gold colour, quite deep.  Nose of dried apples and a hint of vanilla, followed by some wet-stone minerality on the palate and decisively high acid.  Apparently oaked and spicy with a rather chalky, dry finish.

My guess: 2006 Loire Valley Chenin Blanc

It was: 2006 Loire Valley Chenin Blanc (2006 Stephane Cossais Montlouis-sur-Loire “Le Volagre”)

Wine No. 2

Bright mid gold colour, rather unattractive synthetic nose with a peaty overlay.  Not particularly fruity.  Cheesy and oxidative.  (We had a debate about whether it was a faulty bottle).

My guess: 2007 White Hermitage

It was: 2007 White Bordeaux (2007 Chateau Barret Pessac-Leognan).  In my defence it took about an hour to open up and finally show some of that custardy tropicality that I associate with white Bordeaux.  Immediately upon opening it was quite stinky.

Wine No. 3

Light to mid gold.  Round, unctuous nose, well balanced aromas of yellow peaches.  Soft buttery texture, some animaly notes.  On the palate, rich.  Some burnt caramel characteristics on the finish, with layers of mineral complexity.

My guess: 2005 White Burgundy, Meursault

It was: 2005 White Burgundy, Meursault (Domaine Albert Bichot)

Wine No. 4

Mid-gold again.  White fruits, particularly pear, on the nose, with some apple.  Smelling “sweet” – initially thought NZ Pinot Gris.  On the palate a real whack of white pepper and quite some residual sugar.  Austrian Gruner, surely?

My guess: 2007 Austrian Gruner Veltliner

It was: 2009 Austrian Gruner Veltliner (Weingut Bernhard Ott, Wagran)

Wine No. 5

Ultra muddy colour – opaque, cloudy, massive nose of intense dried fruit; sweet, madeirisied.  Very pronounced tannins.  Really weird, almost tastes fortified.  What wine throws such a massive deposit?

My guess: 1980 Chateau Musar (Lebanese red blend)

It was: 1979 Californian Zinfandel (Monte Vino).  Well, I must say I’ve never had Zinfandel of quite some age, so there you go.  Happy to go down in flames on this one. A most intriguing wine.  Literally like dry port, but not over the hill.  A very interesting drop indeed.

Wine No. 6

Mid brick red, lovely soft herby nose with savoury peppery overlay, really sweet plummy fruit showing through on the palate.  Attractive, medium bodied, with a drying finish.  Perfect match, by the way, for Piers’s absolutely stunning game pithiviers.  I can die a happy man.

My guess: N/A – this was the wine I brought

It was: 1983 Northern Rhone Syrah (1983 Chapoutier Hermitage Monieres de la Sizeranne)

Wine No. 7

Cloudy mid-red, brick-red rim.  Aged nose, plenty of dried fruit, mint and garrigue herbs.  Leathery palate, some molasses and clove in evidence.  Rich and well balanced.  Everyone thinks it is Southern Rhone; everyone’s saying Chateauneuf du Pape so I’ll say Gigondas just to be different.

My guess: 1999 Southern Rhone Grenache-blend, probably Gigondas

It was: 1999 Southern Rhone Grenache-blend, Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Domaine du Grand Tinel)

Wine No. 8

Cherry nose, slightly fatty.  Palate has that rather fatty unctuous texture that I associate with Brunello.  Cherries too.

My guess: 1999 Brunello

It was: 1999 Vacqueyras.  Way off there, but I often find Southern Rhone and Tuscan wines confusingly similar in blind tasting circumstances.

Wine No. 9

Golden, honeycombed, with plenty of rosemary and lavender.  Almondy finish.

My guess:  French botrytised Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend, Monbazillac?

It was:  French botrytised Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend, Sauternes (Chateau du Pastel).

Wine No. 10

Very orange, tastes like peach skins.  Christ I’m drunk.

My guess:  Australian botrytised semillon

It was: South African botryised whore of a blend: chenin blanc, semillon and chardonnay or something really weird.  Can’t remember the producer.  Look at the photo.

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2 Responses to Blind Tasting: Sunday lunch with Piers

  1. Wanda says:

    Brilliant! I spent a bit of time working in the OddBins under the Holbrook via duct in 1987 when I lived in London (is it still there?) That was my introduction by fire to serious wine tasting. Your ramblings bring back some delightful memories.

    • I do believe it is, although I’ve never been to that branch. Oddbins had a bit of a crisis a few years ago, as a result of customers becoming disillusioned because of its growing commercialism. It was supposed to change course as a result of a takeover or something but I can’t say I’ve noticed any particular improvement. I’ll shop at Oddbins in an emergency but I’d prefer to seek out interesting wines from independent merchants.

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