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MISCELLANEOUS REDS: Double Blind Tastings
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DOUBLE BLIND TASTING on 9/24/94 -- 6 "miscellaneous" red wines: table wines or unusual varietals that were difficult to classify. BC's comments are missing, as are some of the label notes (these things are hard to keep track of after sampling a half dozen wines).
1. Santa Cristina Sangiovese Toscano (Tuscany), 1992. Price: $9. Alcohol: 12%
2. Beta Test: An homemade wine from Beta grape, 1994. Experimental brew by PB and JG. Price: est. $0.50.
- ME: Smooth but not spicy. Deep color. Round grapejuice shape. No afterburn. Dry but not very. Kind of boring. RANK: 5. GUESS: Wiederkehr Cynthiana.
- BW: A pretty cranberry vintage with a bright fragrance and pleasant, light flavors. This is an innocent, carefree red wine. Perky. RANK: 1 (fave). GUESS: Santa Cristina.
- BC: RANK: 2.
- PB: Cherry color. Well, pale cherry in color. To say its nose is "unassuming" is to wildly understate the case. The word "wimpy" comes to mind. This is a tart. I like tarts. Arkansas? RANK: 2. GUESS: Santa Christina.
- SD: Purple and strangely bubbly. Nose of grape juice. Mild, affable, nothing special. It seems distracted and unfocused, as if it had been sampling the other wines prior to tasting. Quaffable but unrewarding. "Grape Jelly" wine. Summary: "Light & Tasteless". RANK: 5. GUESS: Wiederkehr Cynthiana.
- JG: Sanitized smell. Go well with Wonder Bread and bologna (bland). Trivial aftertaste. Lackluster. RANK: 2. GUESS: Santa Christina.
3. Wiederkehr Arkansas Cynthiana, 1992. Price: $8. Alcohol: 10%
- ME: Definitely different like [unintelligible]. Spicy! Smelly -- like a Shostakovich symphony. Tastes like a Russian failed coup. From the description of Night Harvest it could be this, although it's supposed to have a "smooth" taste? Yuk! RANK: 6 (lowest). GUESS: RH Phillips Cuvee.
- BW: One glance at this wine has me worried - it's very dark, murky, intimidating! Distinctive nose -- haven't I had this wine before? Ooof, my vocabulary is failing me. Funky! The odor and taste are unpleasant, but I can't quite say why. Must be tried to be appreciated. RANK: 6 (lowest). GUESS: Beta.
- BC: RANK: 6 (lowest).
- PB: This is not wine; it is soup. The nose is of banana peels; the flavor of green apple peels. I wish it would take the train south. Unfortunately, I know this wine. I'm sorry. RANK: 6 (lowest). GUESS: Beta.
- SD: Inky, dark, its secrets unrevealed... an oil spill. Odor: that strange, unidentifiable smell of Beta home brew. Interesting, but psychotic: it's fun to meet, but you wouldn't feel safe alone with it on a dark street. For that matter, I'm afraid to leave it unattended next to me in this well-lit room. Taste hints of rutabagas and old sneakers, but not much of wine. Summary: "Weird & Frightening". RANK: 6 (lowest). GUESS: Beta.
- JG: Apply to open wounds or masochists. Frank McKweoun would NOT be proud. I hope the dinner's better. I'm ashamed. RANK: 6 (lowest). GUESS: Beta.
- ME: Aroma: like a John Cage piece (4 minutes of silence). Fruity on the cork on NPR today. Now that could be Night Harvest, except the bubbles suggest yours. Probably Beta-test. Cute! RANK: 3. GUESS: Beta.
- BW: Color is black cherry, and it's bubbly. Odd! It tingles nicely on the tongue, but there's a strong flavor which is not necessarily pleasant. Elusive! Tastes like plastic. RANK: 5. GUESS: Porteur's Lemberger.
- BC: RANK: 1 (fave).
- PB: The color is that of Watermelon Jolly Ranchers. This bodes well. The nose is old New Balance -- not too old. On the tongue it trips the light fantastic, but somehow reminds me of old fried chicken. I guess Arkansas Cynthiana. Yuch. RANK: 5. GUESS: Wiederkehr Cynthiana.
- SD: Bubbly: color and carbonation similar to #1. Not much bouquet. Tastes light with overtones of cider, but more of an edge than #1: aged in posterboard. Summary: "Sharp & Simple". RANK: 4. GUESS: Santa Cristina.
- JG: Smells like old red lollipops. Bill Clinton would NOT be proud. Jello-ish. Good on pancakes? Nice bubbles. RANK: 5. GUESS: Wiederkehr Cynthiana.
Additional review sent in by the feedback form from Jim Beritiech (received 11/15/96):
- I tried several Wiederkehr products trying to find a local
product to support and was terribly disappointed. Every-
thing they make tastes the same: too sweet, hard from
added acids, too much turpentine in the mix. My dog won't
drink it. (Yes, my dog really drinks wine.) I'm ashamed to
admit this stuff comes from my home state.
4. Topolos Russian River Valley Alicante Bouschet, 1991. Price: $13?. Alcohol: 13%
5. Porteur's Lemberger (Yakima Valley), year missing from notes. Price: $14. Alcohol: 14.5%
- ME: Makes Scott snortle. More like a wine than any other. Sharp -- on the right side of the tongue, it moves left. Slightly salty. Best one yet. RANK: 2. GUESS: Porteur's Lemberger.
- BW: Inky but beautiful. Betcha it's the Alicante Bouschet. There's a smokey note in the nose, very nice. The flavor doesn't really deliver though. It's fine but not great. RANK: 3. GUESS: Topolos Alicante.
- BC: RANK: 5.
- PB: The nose is weedy, the color the blood of the bull. I guess I would die happy drowning in a vat of it, but not ecstatic. RANK: 1 (fave). GUESS: Porteur's Lemberger.
- SD: Dark rich color: visibility zero. Not much smell, but heavy rich taste: thick, a little overhanded, nicely rich in flavor but not very complex. Worth tasting, but the appeal soon fades away -- boorish. After awhile you just want to get away. Invokes discussion of where the tastes buds are on the tongue just to change the topic and get away. Summary: "Thick & Overbearing". RANK: 3. GUESS: Topolos Alicante.
- JG: Scab red. A Merlot by any other name. Go good with limberger cheese. For real men. RANK: 1 (fave). GUESS: Porteur's Lemberger.
6. RH Phillips Cuvee, Night Harvest Table Red (year missing). Price: $5 (smaller bottle). Alcohol: 13%
- ME: I've got a headache now. Anything tastes good. Ouch! Sweet, [unintelligible]. RANK: 4. GUESS: Topolos Alicante.
- BW: Very dark, just short of inky. Not much bouquet. It's slightly sweet, inoffensive, easy to drink. Arkansas? RANK: 4. GUESS: Wiederkehr Cynthiana.
- BC: RANK: 4.
- PB: Dark as Hell. Sweet as hell. Big as Hell. I vote we go back to merlots. RANK: 3. GUESS: Topolos Alicante.
- SD: Color: dark and clear, a cloudless twilight. Rich distinctive flavor. A city wine -- overtones of smoke, oil... interesting, for a once-in-a-while change. Great for sipping by the freeway. Summary: "An interesting taste I don't care that much for". RANK: 1 (fave). GUESS: Porteur's Lemberger.
- JG: Pollyana-ish. Thick. Bleech. RANK: 4. GUESS: RH Phillips Cuvee.
- ME: Got up my nose. Very nice. Fat. None of these is as good as a Dortwunder DAB pilsner. RANK: 1 (fave). GUESS: Santa Cristina.
- BW: Another black cherry color. Very little aroma. It's just so normal! RANK: 2. GUESS: RH Phillips Cuvee.
- BC: RANK: 3.
- PB: Looks like wine. Smells like sh**. Tastes like sh**. Whose idea was this? RANK: 4. GUESS: RH Phillips Cuvee.
- SD: A nice color for a red wine, and clear. Interesting splash pattern [it makes as I spill it on my notes]. Simple and forgettable, especially after five other wines. It's disturbing that this is one of my favorites tonight. Summary: "I can think of nothing distinctive to say about this". RANK: 2. GUESS: RH Phillips Cuvee.
- JG: Little. RANK: 3. GUESS: Topolos Alicante.
Additional review sent in by the feedback form from David Broudy (received 12/23/95):
- Basically I came up with the same opinion as y'all did. This stuff tastes like a pound of dirt got thrown into the barrel. Blech! To me it had a mushroomy taste and I *hate* mushrooms.
Overall Comments: A fairly disappointing lot -- the best we can say is that we found some of the wines drinkable. The only clear consensus was the experimental home beta brew, which was universally ranked as the wine we most wanted to avoid. Ratings for the other wines varied wildly: apart from the beta wine, every wine was the favorite of at least one judge. Only one wine -- the Topolos Alicante -- was the favorite of more than one (and both of them thought it was the Porteur's Lemberger). Reviews from the judges about their favorite wines, however, were noticeably unenthusiastic.
ME ranked the wines on an absolute scale from 1 to 10 (HTML Table Tags alert):
Personally, I wouldn't have rated any of the contestants above a 4.
|WINE ||Mike Sez: (Rank 1 to 10, 10 is best) |
|Santa Cristina ||1 |
|Beta Wine ||-1 |
|Wiederkehr Arkansas Cynthiana ||3-4 |
|Topolos Alicante Bouschet ||5 |
|Porteur's Lemberger ||2 |
|RH Phillips Cuvee ||7
Three of the judges (PB, SD, BW) managed to correctly identify four of the six wines. With the possible exception of BC (whose notes mysteriously disappeared after this wine tasting extravaganza), it is interesting to note that everyone thought their favorite wine was either the Santa Cristina or the Porteur's Lemberger (only two were correct). Almost everyone recognized the beta test was their least favorite.
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