Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Muy Macho", A South American Tasting

We decided to host a guys only tasting, but most of the "men" were unable to get the free pass. How appropriate, then, that the wines were "macho" wines from South America. We had an interesting selection of wines - no single varietal wines and three different countries were represented. However, the real surprise of the evening was not that Cam finally won a tasting, but HOW he won, with a shocking, unheralded, unranked, and unknown wine of dubious origin.

First: 2001 Pisano Arretxea
The Arretxea was ranked first by all three of us. Note that this wine was decanted up to 2 hours before we started tasting. Anyway, the score differential between the three wines was large, and this was a clear winner. This blend of Cab. Sauv., Merlot, and Tannat showed a very nice bouquet, with strong scents of chocolate, tobacco, leather - "beautiful and interesting". However, this wine was anything but a wallflower - a full-bodied red with firm tannins, I described it as "Powerful, hearty, interesting." A great wine that will get better. I bought up every last bottle in town.

Second: 1999 Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta
I was so sure that the winner was my Clos Apalta. This celebrated, consistently highly ranked, expensive Chilean red, a blend of Carmenère (35%), Merlot (30%), Cab. Sauv. (22%) and Malbec (13%), should have been a winner. On the nose, it was more subtle than the first place wine, with very interesting smells. The taste was very nice, full-bodied and balanced, but to quote "Robust, flavorful, rough around the edges." This had a very long finish, and I suspect that this wine is set to improve over time. Note that after we had scored, the Clos Apalta continued to improve and the gap with the first wine became smaller and smaller. (RP-91, WS-92)

Third: 2002 Norton Privada
Always a favorite everyday wine of mine, this wine scored well with WS as well (91). A great value, but not in the league of the wines above. I described it as very drinkable, but not terribly interesting. Don't let these comments fool you - this wine was half price the mystery wine and less than a third of the price of the Clos Apalta. I still recommend it.

Cam's first victory proves that no one should let me help them choose a wine for a comeptitive tasting.