For the January tasting, we blind tasted three pairs of red wines, each pair separated by 10 years of age. Our job was to detect which one of the pair is the younger of the two.
Out of sheer chance, the "B" bottle was always the older of the two (these were brown bagged, switched around, and opened an hour in advance).
Four out of the six tasters correctly picked out the older bottle, with both Kristins faltering on the last pair.
First up was the always reliable Knight's Valley bottling of Cabernet Sauvignon from Beringer. The second comparison was a blend of Corvina and Rondinella from northern Italy that goes through partial drying and concentration of the grapes. The third pair was the most similar in smell and taste - not surprising considering that this vineyard usually takes time to reveal itself.
All bottles came from David's cellar.
1A. Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Knight's Valley). Scents of dish detergent, cranberries, tomato, bright cherry, and ocean air. Vibrant and lively, David felt it was "fresh and inviting". Good tannins, with flavors of bubble gum on the attack, then cherries and burnt sugar, finishing with bacon and caramel. About $20.
1B. Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Knight's Valley). Tasters found complex aromas of bacon, new car tire, violets, forest floor, geranium, fresh cut grass, and smoke. Kristin C noted that it "smells like everything I love in the world", and Kristin A was reminded of "a smoky French brothel". Still structured, with notions of burnt leaves. Ali felt it was reminiscent of "a campfire in Provence", while Kristin A found that it "holds up better to the salt" in the foods. David just called it "wonderful". Kristin C and Ali's favorite of the night. About $24.
2A: Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2011 (Veronese). Acetone, body odor, socks, and mushrooms on the nose. Andy was reminded of "hockey bag". On the palate it was much better than it smells, with David feeling it was "concentrated and intense". Flavors of peaches, iodine, cherries, and ink. Ali felt that it was "Petite Sirah like", with Suzanne saying that it "has more life". Black pepper on the long finish. About $20.
2B: Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2001 (Veronese). Musty nose, reminiscent of mushrooms, tomato paste, and dirty sponge. Ali was reminded of "Joyce's basement", saying that "I worry about it a little", with Suzanne declaring that it's "not welcoming". Good attack, but also a bit tired and weedy. Shorter finish. Kristin C noted that it has "lost some of its zip", and Suzanne felt she was "warming up to it". David declared that he "likes its mellowness". About $18.
3A: Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon Jack London Vineyard 2012 (Sonoma Mountain). Brighter color and smell. Notions of pine forest, citrus, acetone, gelatin, and eucalyptus. Kristin C noted that "they're both fuckin' delicious", while Ali detected "brown paper bag" and David found "hot cinnamon on the long finish". About $28.
3B: Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon Jack London Vineyard 2002 (Sonoma Valley). Complex scents of fungus, pine needles, smoked paprika, light oak, rosewater, and cinnamon. Kind of like cough syrup on the palate, like ripe cherries and licorice. Long, detailed finish with lots of cherry, blueberry, and charred oak notes. David declared it "delicious", with an "expansive mid-palate", and "the star of the tasting". This was Andy, Kristin A, Suzanne, and David's favorite of the night. About $25.