In a departure from our previous tastings, Pramod decided to host this one at "the club" with a selection from their cellar. As usual, we were all blinded. This was one of our biggest tastings, as all 11 of us gathered in the tasting room at the club. The tasting was loosely structured as a California vs. France thing, but mostly just a fun tasting. The final score was as follows:
First - 1999 Steltzner Cabernet
This wine was very consistent - six first place, four second place and one third place (me) ranking. I loved this wine, but the scores were fairly close between my first to third. I think what put this in third place for me was not the taste (very agreeable), but complexity - interesting, but less so than the next two. Very hard to find, but the web site lists the 2003 for US$36 - very reasonable.
Fourth - 1999 Chateau Pichon-Longueville Baron
A very nice Bordeaux from a less celebrated vintage and Chateau. Scores were all over the map, but two firsts and three seconds and let it squeak by our third place finisher. I was one who ranked it first, describing it as "Classy" and "Fabulous", with beautiful woodsy scents (ok, truffle, and pencil shavings - first time I have ever smelled those shavings!) and perfect balance. (RP-89)
Third - 1994 Ridge Geyserville
The score was very close to the wine above. Surprisingly, not everyone was able to pick out this was a Zinfandel... Anyway, I found it to be very fruity and drinkable, but lacking in complexity (All I could smell was fruit and alcohol) and slightly off balance. What do I know? (RP-92, but best before 2005...)
Fourth - 1999 Chateau Lynch Bages
Note that the scores for second to fourth place were very close... I rated this second (I must like Bordeaux) - I found the nose bursting with various spice aromas. Moreover, I found it elegant and set to improve. (RP-90)
Fifth - 1994 Chateau Clinet
After our first bottle was corked, the sommelier was kind enough to open a second. It didn't help. According to my notes, not a lot going on (on the nose), unbalanced - "Not Pleasant", to quote. May get better. (RP-92, go figure)
1) Kudos to Pramod for choosing the Falesco Vitiano as the starter wine!
2) This is the second time I have tasted the Steltzner. This is not a wine that is frequently/highly rated by the critics, but I love it.
3) I didn't do a statistical analysis, but it looks like the the females rated the Californians highly and the Bordeaux low. The men were the opposite. While this could be related to sexual differences, it may also be "groupthink", as the girls gathered at one end and the boys at the other.