Friday, November 19, 2010

'85 Cabernet Blind Tasting 11/18/10

This was a Rossbott tasting. 9 people, 6 wines. We tasted blind and individually ranked them. The rankings are compiled and tallied, yielding a group score, ranking and a spread. The score is 1 point for each 1st place vote, 2 for 2nd and so on down to 6 for 6th, so the lower the score the better. The spread shows the number of votes for the following rankings: 1st/2nd/3rd/last.

For this tasting we had 3 Cabernet-based wines from California and 3 from Bordeaux. We knew what the wines were, just not which was which.

A) Nose - dark, warm, toasty, deep, rustic, mature, black currant and ash, with hints of sweet tobacco, iodine and cedar.
Cedary classic Cab with good intensity, charred oak, dry, a bit bitter, dusty ashy tannin. 90 pts Bdx (I guessed Beychevelle. We scaled down from 8 wines and I misunderstood which Bdx was eliminated. Due to the intensity I would've guessed either Lynch or Chasse.)
My #2, group #4 2/3/1/3 (29)
'85 Ch. Chasse Spleen (Moulis)
With time TCA became apparent. At least one person got this before the reveal, which surely reduced its group ranking.

B) Nose - baguette, good tone, delicate mature black currant, cedar, dill and green olive.
Roasty mature cedary Cab, dark toast, touch of bitter astringency, cherry. 90 pts Bdx - Lynch?
My #3, group #3 1/2/3/1 (29)
'85 Ch. Lynch Bages (Pauillac)

C) Nose - sweetish mature red fruit, Red Vines, hint of licorice, sweet tobacco and dill.
Woody astringency, weedy. With time this smoothed out showing some nice subtle mature red fruit. 87 pts Bdx - Chasse? (See above. Would've guessed Clocher.)
My #5, group #2 3/1/0/1 (28)
'85 Ch. Clos du Clocher (Pomerol)

D) Nose deep cedary black currant and cotton candy, hints of black olive, mint and dill.
Classic Mount Eden - deep Margaux fruit, intense minerally mountain expression, licorice with a slight hint at that green bamboo shoot. Smooth, dark and sultry. 92 pts Ca - Mount Eden no question
My #1, group #1 3/2/1/1
'85 Mount Eden Estate (Santa Cruz Mountains)

E) Nose - Vlassic pickles, mint, sweetish, green olive, nice herbs, smooth low-key mature fruit.
Sickly dill pickle and astringency dominating dark classic fruit. 78 pts Ca - Coturri?
My #6, group #6 0/0/1/2
'85 Dehlinger Estate (Russian River Valley)

F) Nose - smoky sauerkraut, smoked bratwurst, smooth mature fruit.
Sweet, feminine, nice elegant fruit, bright, strawberry and black plum. 90 pts Ca - Dehlinger?
My #4, group #5 0/1/3/1
'85 Coturri (Alexander Valley)

So, I got the CA vs Bdx right. Really, 5 wines showed CA hints and 5 showed Bdx clues, but ultimately that was pretty easy. If I had the right line-up it would've been a tossup between getting 2 or 4 wines right.

Coturri wines are controversial - made without inoculating and without any SO2 to protect the wine. They can be amazingly complex wonderful wines or bacterially spoiled messes. Some initially great versions can go bad over time in the bottle, especially if not stored properly. As one friend who's a Coturri fan pointed out, the highs are so high and the price is so low that the gamble is well worth it to him. I respect that.

Earlier this year in trying the '68 and '70 Martin Ray Cabs from the Mount Eden Vineyard, I really got the signature, as it was very prominent in those wines. Not long after, a paired of early '80s Mount Edens showed it again, to a less overt degree. Martin Ray planted the vineyard to the Margaux clone in the late '40s. It was more recently replanted, so now I'm curious to revisit some younger versions to see if that signature is still there.

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