This was a humbling experience. While Andy did an outstanding job of identifying four out of six reds, with Kristin correctly finding a respectable three, the rest of us might have done just as well with a toss of the dice. Granted, this was a difficult task -- we were given eight choices in red wines, then we had to pick out which six were poured into our six glasses, all behind the honesty of the brown paper bag, of course.
Easiest was the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, with all of us getting this correct. It was delicious, in a forward, approachable way, but not flabby or tiring. Almost as easy was the Chinon, exhibiting the characteristic weedy, bell pepper notes of Old World Cabernet Franc. But the rest confounded us overall, with none of us getting the Oregon Pinot Noir correct, or the Spanish Garnacha. Only Andy figured out which glass contained the Chianti Classico. Clearly, we have more studying to do.
Still, this was an absolute blast, and we all left looking forward to doing this again soon. We also all agreed that these were very good to excellent wines, and would be happy to have any of them again.
Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Napa Valley). Dark in color, with Jamie noting, "Good concentration all the way to the edge." Showed a complex nose of dark fruit, like plums, cherry, and blackberry, then a touch of smoke, vanilla, tobacco leaf, and other oak notes. Very ripe. Andy decided that, "I want to live in there." Sweet vanilla on the palate, plus cassis and blackberry flavors. Delicious. Mocha on the finish. Impressive, ripe tannins. Ali exclaimed, "Yum!" About $56.
Felsina Chianti Classico Berardenga 2016. Tasters found scents reminiscent of canned tomato (with the lump of soggy basil), dust, dried herbs, thyme, violets, dark cherry, red roses, spice drawer, mushrooms, and clove. Tannic in the mouth, with not a lot of fruit. High acidity. Notions of cranberries on the finish. About $26.
Rex Hill Pinot Noir 2015 (Willamette Valley). Notions of burning ember, fireman's boot, tar, campfire, prunes, black pepper, and earthy peat on the nose. Dark and brooding. Tannic, but also juicy, with plenty of fruit, and a lush mouthfeel. Dark, inky, intense. Jamine felt that this was "a cassoulet wine." Many of us thought this was the Petite Sirah, and it was a real shock to see that it was in fact Pinot Noir. About $30.
Bodegas Breca Garnacha Old Vines 2013 (Calatayud). Offered aromas of black licorice, ripe fruit, candied berries, and cola on the nose, but also staying bright. Reminiscent of a fancy cherry cola quality in the mouth, with a peppery finish. Very clean, with an impressive purity to it. Well-made. Effortlessly fruity, with plenty of acidity, and a somewhat herbal finish, hinting at molasses. Ali was reminded of "raw rosemary." About $16.
Couly-Dutheil Chinon La Coulée Automnale 2015. Scents similar to cleanser (Ajax/Comet), plus Spaghetti-O's, something metallic, damp basement, acetone, locker room, and medicated foot. Kristin was reminded of "boy bedroom." Dirty. Jamie decided that "Clean sinks are in the future with this glass." Surprisingly pretty on the palate, with green bell pepper flavors. Good with food. Despite the nose, we came around to enjoy this, with Ali commenting, "How did that happen?" About $16.
Domaine Lagneau Côte de Brouilly Vieilles Vignes 2015. Opaque, with a relatively shy nose, suggesting cherry cola, seaweed, spice box, and old nutmeg. Slightly chalky. Fruity palate, mostly cherries, with nice purity, and minerally finish. Tight, pure and focused. Very linear. One taster felt that it was "almost like a white wine." A tea note emerged with air. About $20.