For our Christmas Party each year (1,2) I decant and serve four red wines blind, asking my guests to use their intuitions and "guess" which wine is which, typically by providing clues about the grape or region. An incredibly simple concept, but extraordinarily difficult (and humbling) in reality - even for the experts. But what a marvelous way to get people thinking about, and talking about, wine!
This year's selections:
2007 Falesco Vitiano (Umbria, Italy)
2007 Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon Yellow Label (South Australia)
2006 Montecillo Crianza (Rioja, Spain)
2007 Alamos Malbec Seleccion Especial (Mendoza, Argentina)
The rationale for tonight's picks? Excellent price to quality for their respective styles, based on personal experience, and sufficiently different grapes and winemaking styles to make the guessing a bit easier....
Unfortunately, nobody correctly identified all four wines - in fact only two guests picked two of four correctly. I blame the Vitiano mainly - 1/3 each of Merlot, Cabernet and Sangiovese it came across more modern and approachable for an "Old World" wine and displayed no definitive "Italian-ness". Adding to our intrepid wine detectives' misery, the Wolf Blass was very reserved and came across as a reserved, "Old World", wine.
Yes, the wines were not easy to triangulate, but at least the wines were pretty darn good overall - no duds tonight, as in previous years. (It shouldn't be much of a surprise, I suppose, as most of these wines frequently appear on "best value" lists)
It was interesting to note that all of the wines were 13.5% alcohol - not low, but certainly NOT the elevated alcohol we see with too many entry level wines these days. Less surprising for the Rioja, perhaps, but an Argentine Malbec? Wonderful to see.
There was some debate as to whether the Falesco was better than the Montecillo., but in the end both of those decanters drained equally quickly. (the true test)
All in all a great evening, and nobody had a bad glass of wine - that's the "Joe Guarantee®"