“Mystery wine” is a favorite game among the tasting and editorial staff at Wine Spectator. A decanter of wine appears, and we all sit around and try to guess out loud what we’re drinking. It’s a humbling, fascinating and fun exercise.
Recently, a group of us were out for dinner at Oenotri, an exciting new Italian restaurant on the west end of downtown Napa. Instead of one of us picking the mystery wine, we let sommelier Sur Lucero pick a wine from his list.
He picked a red that he said would go particularly well with the house-made salumi platter we were enjoying, and it ended up being a terrific match with the salty, dried meats. It was also delicious on its own—light-bodied and aromatic; the dried lavender and rose petal notes reminded me of a Pinot Noir at first. But there were plenty of juicy red fruit flavors and a peppery note, too, which made my colleagues and me think it might be a Grenache-based wine.
When we were out of guesses, Sur showed us the bottle, and we were still stumped even after looking at the label. It was the Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Santo Spirito 2007 from Sicily (about $70 on the wine list), a blend of two indigenous grapes, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Even without having a reference point for the wine, I enjoyed its elegance and grace, and found the aromatics and mix of flavors balanced and with plenty of length. I rated the wine 91 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Santo Spirito 2007 (89, $40).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated reds from Sicily.