Depending on how you keep score, I either went four for seven or three for six or one for seven on Saturday’s editors’ blind tasting at the New York Wine Experience.
I didn’t have any trouble picking out the wine I submitted to this triple-blind tasting. (Each of our seven editors who participated chose one wine and aside from that we knew nothing about the other six—not the grape type, country, appellation or vintage.)
My wine, the 2005 Schrader Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “Old Sparky” bottling (not yet rated, $250 only in magnum, 100 cases) was easy for me to spot in this lineup and I had plenty of support. Lots of those in attendance warmed up to this stylish wine, with its smooth, rich and polished herb-tinted currant, loamy earth, jazzy oak and hint of anise.
I also correctly guessed the correct grape with three other wines, but was about a continent away from their origins. Wine No. 2 on my scorecard was the Bodegas Alto Moncayo Garnacha Campo do Borja 2004 (92, $44, 600 cases, submitted by Tom Matthews), which was dense and concentrated, broad and complex, with layered sweetish blackberry and wild berry fruit along with pretty oak shadings. I guessed Aussie Grenache.
I also correctly identified the grape in wine No. 4, the Shea Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Shea Vineyard Estate 2004 (95, $38, 1,200 cases, submitted by Harvey Steiman), but missed its appellation too by a long way. It reminded me of tightly wound young Burgundy, with its fresh, snappy berry and cherry flavors and vibrant acidity.
With the first wine, I wrote in Shiraz, figuring it too might be of Australian in origin, maybe Barossa Valley. Wrong. It was James Molesworth's choice: de Trafford Shiraz Stellenbosch 2003 (94, $65, 212 cases made), a South African beauty that was intense and concentrated, with great depth, purity of flavor and persistence.
I didn’t have much of a clue about wine No. 2, Kim Marcus' entry. With its rich, grapey, rustic flavors and deep concentration I figured it for Old World, as in European, but was handcuffed by the grape, and no wonder. This terrific wine, the Quinta do Vale Meão Douro 2005 (not yet rated, $62, 2,000 cases), is from a mix of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barocca grapes.
With Bruce Sanderson’s choice, the Nicolas Rossignol Volnay-Santenots 2005 (not rated, $90, 420 cases), I should have picked it off as red Burgundy, since I love Volnays. While tight and firm, its rose petal, tar and cherry and berry flavors led me to think … Nebbiolo and Barbaresco.
And I missed James Suckling’s Château Pontet-Canet 2005 (95–100 out of barrel, $NA, NA cases made). It had the structure of classic Bordeaux, yet in this grouping, its austere tannins, Merlot-like aromas and cedar notes led me to think super Tuscan, as in a blend of Merlot and Sangiovese.