Overall, the wines presented were very diverse, from four different countries, and as many different vintages. With a couple of exceptions, there was strong consensus of opinion about the quality of each bottle, and many had colorful analogies in describing their impressions. Although tasters chose the reds according to price, everyone agreed the lone white wine was a bargain.
No scoring. These are listed in the order poured.
Hardy's Sparkling Shiraz, non-vintage (Southeast Australia). Very difficult to find, sparkling reds are almost uniquely Australian. Tasted non-blind, this was a very distinctive bubbly, with exuberant blackberry, black cherry, ripe raspberry flavors, and a peppery finish. Nobody disliked this wine. Kristin said that it really makes her want food. Sarah boldly declared, "this is my favorite wine that I ever had". About $22.
Canyon Road Sauvignon Blanc, 2002 (California). Tasted blind. Ali had the only dissenting opinion about this one, with tasters generally enjoying the fresh, grassy, grapefruit and lightly floral aromas and flavors. Kristin suggested that it tasted like spring, and guessed that it costs $10, while Sarah correctly identified the grape variety. Ali believed that this wine "has a duality, like many white grapes". David thought that this was an outstanding value, with very characteristic Sauvignon Blanc flavors and no oak influence. About $7.
Chateau Les Grandes Chenes, 1995 (Medoc). Tasted blind. None were crazy about this Bordeaux red. Tasters were quick to describe an earthy nose, "like it has a rock in it", and "like the chalk that comes up from the road" (Sarah). This had more unbalanced acidity to it, with oak, celery and flowers. Andy described it as being hollow, and while it had a decent attack, the mid-palate was weak, and the finish quick. Tasted over-the-hill. Sarah and Ali correctly identified that it was from France. Ali described it as "like sand paper on the tongue". About $20.
La Torre Brunello di Montalcino, 1997. Tasted blind. Made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso grapes, Brunellos have a minimum aging requirement of 36 months. Tasters described sweetness on the nose, with bright cherry, and a waxy crayon quality. On the palate, this red was clearly riper, with sweet cedar, tobacco, peaches and a wet impression. Had a bright acidity to it, but did not overwhelm. Kristin at first was not crazy about it, but later claimed that this was her favorite of the three reds. Kristin also correctly identified it as Italian. Ali said that it was "wavy" and that "it keeps going". About $55.
Beringer Cabernet Sauvingnon Private Reserve, 1997 (Napa Valley). Tasted blind. Among the most consistently high quality cabernets in California, this bottling is made from select vineyards from many areas around Napa Valley, and is considered a "top shelf" wine. Tasters again declared that the nose had a crayon-like quality to it, with Ali suggesting "a box of 64" Crayola. Plum and other dark fruits on the nose, gave way to a very layered palate of cherry, coffee, licorice, blackberry, dark spices, paprika, clove, black olives, and rose petal. Not as brightly acidic as the other two reds. Did not express an overwhelming oak component, even though it is aged in small new French oak barrels for nearly two years. Tasters generally agreed that this was the most complex red wine of the night, and David loved the length of the finish, as well as elegance and purity of the wine. About $95.
Lungarotti Vin Santo, 1995 (Torgiano). Not tasted blind. A Tuscan dessert wine made of partially dried grapes, the wine is long matured in oak. Very tawny port like on the nose. Flavors of golden raisins, caramel, red apple, almonds, vanilla and oranges. Sarah described the aroma as like opening a box of raisins. About $15.