Using the same format as the September 2022 tasting, our challenge this month was to match wines with two different dishes, this time an appetizer of octopus in garlic confit with fiddleheads, then a main course of beef carbonnade with mashed potatoes. Like last time, dinner was shared with Ali & Andy, so there were only four bottles in total, rather than the usual six we have for our regular tastings. But we also had Chelsea with us for this evening, who was invaluable in labeling the bagged wines to ensure we had true blind tasting conditions.

For the octopus, the winner was an elegant, vibrant Pouilly-Fumé that was both fantastic on its own and amplified the flavor of the appetizer. Ali & Andy's bottle of Torrontes did not fare well, which overwhelmed the taste of octopus with candied tropical fruit notes.

Ali & Andy did much better with the beef carbonnade, bringing a balanced but intense Nebbiolo from the Spanna appellation in northern Italy, having palate-cleansing acidity, helping to cut through the richness of the dish. David & Kristin's Northern Rhône-styled Shiraz/Viognier blend from Barossa wasn't a bad match, and was certainly an outstanding wine, but it was a little too big and boastful, and didn't help the meat shine.

We then finished the night with a very good 10 year tawny port, matching well with David's coffee ice cream.

Thanks to Andy for the photography.

Wines are listed below in the order tasted:

Domaine Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé 2020. Tasters found scents of watermelon, green pear, cranberries, river rock, Asian pear, and hints of bubble gum. Bright, fresh, and elegant, with solid minerality. Vibrant in the mouth, but with outstanding balance and flavors of white peach, raspberries, lemons, and pear on the long finish. Perhaps a bare hint of oak? Lively. Clearly the better pairing. David & Kristin's bottle. About $30.

Susana Balbo Torrontés Signature 2022 (Uco Valley). Chelsea noted that it "looked like yellow water." Very aromatic and ripe, with aromas of grapefruit, peach schnapps, freshly mown lawn, lemons, cotton candy, eucalyptus, Ricola, Lipton tea, and marshmallows. Almost candied. Unctuous in texture, but with solid acidity supporting flavors of passionfruit, blood orange, lychee, and toasted marshmallows. Something brown on the finish. Andy felt that it "brings out the worst of the wine" when paired with the octopus. Better with the fiddleheads. Ali & Andy's bottle. About $25.

Cascina Preziosa Spanna Coste Della Sesia 2019. More garnet in color compared to the other red, with beautiful, perfumed fresh scents of new cowboy boots, smoke, shitake mushrooms, dust, hyacinth, baby powder, and figs. Pretty, and intriguing. David found notions of "hot cast iron pan", while Andy was reminded of "someone in the other room just cut a board." Delicious on the palate, and having a beautiful texture, with medium body. Just a touch of funk, along with good acidity and high tannin. Dark and intense, while staying elegant. We correctly guessed that this was made from Nebbiolo. Ali & Andy's bottle. About $28.

Torbreck RunRig 2006 (Barossa Valley). Made from 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier, this had a generous nose of cigars, wood, bacon fat, maple syrup, black olives, cinnamon, blackberries, and warm spices. Hints of white flowers, prune, and beef blood.  David declared that since it had scents of "bacon and maple syrup, this is a breakfast wine!" Perhaps a bit hot. In the mouth, the high alcohol stood out a bit, with flavors of licorice, prune, freshly brewed coffee, blackberries, dark cherries, and black pepper. Full-bodied and palate-coating, but also well integrated. David & Kristin's bottle. About $200.

Quinta da Pacheca 10 Year Old Tawny Port. Exhibited freshness, with uplifting energy to go with flavors of hazelnuts, almonds, vanilla, dried orange peel, a controlled level of caramel, and crème brûlée. About $30.

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