This month offered more evidence of how weak we are in blind varietal/appellation identification. We were poured three French whites and three French reds, and had to identify them out of four possible choices each. The results were disappointing. Ali deserves kudos for getting all three whites correct, and was our top taster of the night, but she identified none of the reds. Suzanne, Kristin, and Andy all got two wines correct, with David and Josephine only identifying one.
Still, all the wines tasted were well-made and very enjoyable, with some great values mixed in, as well as a big, boisterous Châteauneuf du Pape. And we all had an excellent time trying to figure these out, despite the poor showing.
Wines are listed below in the order poured. No points awarded this time.
Domaine Berthenet Montagny Tete de Cuvée 2016. Tasters found complex scents of lemons, lemongrass, river rock, grass, fresh herbs, cats pee, cheese, funky melon, inner tube, petroleum, and dust. Round in the mouth, with flavors of lemon, melon, oranges, peaches, and white flowers. A little tart, but with a supple mouthfeel. Suzanne, Kristin, Ali, and Andy got this correct. About $20.
Champalou Vouvray 2017. Aromas of white peach, hay, melon, rubber pool toy, honeydew, and pebbles. A little shy. Shows clarity and focus. Tasted of limes, river rocks, green apple, grass, and green pear. High acidity. Summery and crisp. Josephine called it "elegant and spare", but without being boring. David labeled it "classy." Josephine, Andy, and Ali got this right. About $22.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2017. A nose suggesting tropical fruits, like lychee and mango, plus lime peel and Roses Lime Juice. Fruit salad. Andy suggested that this was a Carmen Miranda wine. Some apple notes. More tropical fruit in the mouth, then white peach and pineapple on the finish, ending with some minerality. A little sharp at the close. Only Ali correctly indentified this. About $30.
Château La Grange Clinet Réserve 2016 (Cotes de Bordeaux). Cherries, dust, smoke, mushrooms, wet leaves, peonies, roses, and spices on the nose. David was reminded of "a pleasant walk in the fall woods, with a little bit of rot." Some cinnamon and heliotrope notes. Ali noted that "there's a faraway blueberry." Gorgeous on the palate, with ripe tannin and flavors of lavender, violets, leather, and smoke. Bloody meat on the finish. Excellent balance. Unfortunately, David announced out loud that he thought this was the red Burgundy, possibly influencing everyone else's opinions. He was wrong, of course. Made from 68% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc. Nobody identified this wine correctly. About $19.
Clos Saint Jean Châteauneuf du Pape 2009. Aromas of yams, cooked prunes, canned carrots, ink, and iodine. Very ripe. David felt that it would pair well with pulled pork. Ali was reminded of "everything orange", while Andy found a "bundle of sticks." A boisterous, in your face wine, tasting of cherry cola, cinnamon, cherry liqueur, cough medicine, and then barbecue sauce on the finish. Slightly astringent and medicinal near the close. Suzanne found that "it's a lot of work." Suzanne, David, and Kristin figured this one out. About $40.
Domaine Chevalier Ladoix 1er Cru Le Clou d'Orge 2015. Rubber, black licorice, mowed lawn, fish market, and inner tube on the nose. Josephine found a "slightly diapery funk", with other tastings detecting scents of black pepper, canned spinach, root beer, sassafras, and burnt hair in a vacuum cleaner. Excellent balance and harmony, this seemed brighter, with more acidity than the other reds, exhibiting flavors of cherries, bitter rind, dark wet soil, earthworms, wet leafy earth, and grapefruit. No taster got this right. About $51.