I helped start our wine tasting group not because I was "into wine", but because I knew nothing about wine. Between work and family I never had time to go to formal classes, so I invited a few guys over on a Friday night to chat and taste wines. We started with a price range of up to C$40 - my thinking was that this way we would taste wines that we would not normally drink everyday, and make sure the wines were 'representative' of their respective regions/grapes. The objective in all of our tastings was to go 'blind', removing any bias.
Having no real idea what we were up to, we cobbled together a group of willing tasters, downloaded a score sheet off the internet, and started with Cabernet Sauvignon, naturally.
My early tasting notes are less complete, but the wines (and rankings) were as follows:
First: 1999 Stanley Brothers Thoroughbred Cab. Sauv.
My ranking was in line with the group. According to my notes this wine had a beautiful spicy nose and was very deep, complex, balanced, fruity. Cost was close to C$25
Second: 1998 Santa Rita Casa Real
My second place ranking was in line with the group. The wine had a woodsy, berry nose, and was slightly acidic. I described the taste as "complex, with decent length, well balanced but perhaps a touch acidic". The tannins were very noticeable/powerful, and in retrospect probably not yet ready. Cost nearly C$55.
1999 La ferme d'Angludet
2001 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Series Cabernet
From my notes it appears that the Coppola scored better. I described it as enjoyable, spicy, balanced, but could use some more depth. The Ferme d'Angludet was my first (and last) mistake buying the 'second' wine of a Bordeaux producer when I thought I was buying the first wine. Perhaps not a fatal mistake with "Alter Ego de Palmer" or "Carruades de Lafite", but D'Angludet's "ferme" is NOT a second wine to seek out - especially at C$35. This wine was well balanced, but a lightweight and uncomplex.
A couple of observations as I reflect on this tasting long after it took place:
- Since we didn't really know what we were doing, the outcomes/ratings are suspect.
- For our first two tastings we blinded the wines using a brown paper bag. Not clever - the fine wines always throw off a ton of sediment, and picking the sludge out from between your teeth is bound to wreck your score. We have since switched to using unmarked decanters.