Lastnight we had a blind tasting of 6 red wines. The purpose was to try to identify the four classic red grapes — pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and merlot – by appearance, nose and palate. We also threw in two other favorites – a zinfandel and malbec – to make it more fun and challenging. Altogether 37 Millennials participated in the tasting, and we voted on our favorite at the end before revealing the label and price. The star of the evening was a cabernet sauvignon from a brand new winery in Napa! Read on for more details and the name of the winning wine.
Fortunately for us, all of the wines except the malbec were donated by wineries. The pinot noir from Robert Mondavi Winery (2007 Carneros, $26) was the easiest to identify blind. The color was a light ruby and the nose had perfect typicity of strawberries, earth and sour cherry on the palate. The zinfandel donated by Arminda Winery (Poizin, 2007, $25) was also easy to guess with its bright berry fruit and white pepper finish. More challenging was the big merlot from St. Clement (2005 Napa Valley, $28) with lots of dark fruit, big tannins, herbs and muscle. The syrah from Little Vineyards (2005, Sonoma Valley, $27) was a symphony of black berries and dark chocolate with soft easy drinking tannins. Compared with the Fuerza malbec (2003, Mendoza, $5) from Argentina which also had velvety tannins and lush blackberry fruit – though without the concentration of the syrah – it became more challenging to identify blind.
The cabernet sauvignon from Delgadillo Cellars (2001, Napa Valley, $85 allocated) was easy to identify with its classic dark fruit, cassis and some secondary notes of earth and leather from its 36 months in French oak and 3 years bottle aging. The wine has layers of flavor and complexity with a very elegant long finish and soft tannins. When we took the class vote for first and second choice – before revealing label and price – all six wines received votes as the favorite. However the wine star of the evening with the most votes was the Delgadillo Cabernet Sauvignon.
***** 2001 Delgadillo Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($85)
A dark rich ruby wine with an intense red fruit nose with cassis, earth and leather. Deep layers of complex flavors, soft rounded tannins, and a very long finish. A truly elegant wine that is enjoyable to sip and savor alone, or would pair well with rack of lamb or pork tenderloin. Available by allocation at http://www.dcellars.com/delgadillo/page/who.jsp.