I recently joined a tasting group and that was the only instruction I received prior to showing up.
There were 4 of us and we each brown bagged our selections. Scott brought 2. For next time, we agreed to make this step double-blind (i.e. I knew which bag was mine).
It was my job to decant all of the bottles. I'm smiling because I didn't have to wash the glassware and I was told I looked too "serious" by the photographer.
I was using the candlelight to spot for sediment. Yes, at one point, I did light one of the paper bags on fire.
We tasted through the wines and made notes, guessing commune and vintage. Across the board, we were surprised by the great acidity as well as the lightness of the tannins.
Montrose. Sounds French, right? Wrong, New South Wales in Australia. Wine #1 was a ringer courtesy of Chris. The nose was exciting; cinnamon ribbon candy, coffee, licorice, venison. The palate was diappointing, however; one-noted and hot on the finish. The least favorite of the group.
Chateau Meyney 1985. Dried cherries, anise, and brett in a good way. On the front palate, a slight bit of corkiness came through, but it wasn't necessarily unpleasant. I had guessed St. Julien 1987. Doh.
Wine #3, the Reserve de la Comtesse 1988, was the group favorite. Chocolate, coffee, cherry, bell pepper, tobacco; great balance and depth of flavor. The most structured of the bunch.
Wine #4, the Chateau Haut Marbuzet 1989, was mine and I was happy that I didn't embarass myself. Candied fruit, forest floor, sundried tomatoes and dusty tannins. Shout out to Chambers St. Wines for making a same-day delivery and only charging me $10 (nothing like waiting until the last minute).
Wine #5, Chateau Bouscaut 1989, was the most tannic of the line-up. It had lots of sweet spice and vanilla, along with an interesting metallic/bloody character.
Chris threw a Sauternes into the mix because it just seemed wrong not to. The wine was very deeply colored, with a spicy horseradish quality on the nose. The botrytis was very clean and the wine had so much acidity, it barely seemed sweet.
It would have been a lot of wine to have without any food to wash it down, but Chris, the ever-gracious host, had prepared a 4 course meal. Here's the first: foie mousse on toasted baguette. Didn't suck with the Sauternes.
Course 2, coq au vin, happily bubbling away on the stove. You'd think that poultry cooked with wine and mushrooms would be incredibly wine-friendly, but most of the reds in our tasting couldn't stand up to the dish.
Course 3 was a washed rind cheese that Chris added 2 cloves of garlic and some Sauternes to and stuck in the oven. It came out a fragrant and gooey mess. The side salad was not enough to offset the amount of cheese and foie that we put away.
Last, but not least, an apple tart with honey. The Sauternes ended up being the most versatile wine across all of the food courses. The best surprise was still to come.
Yup, you read it right, a Sercial Solera from 1860. Amazingly alive and vibrant. You could almost smell the acidity. Guess they call it the dog strangler for a reason.
Lining up the damage at the end of the night. The Grunhauser was because we got thirsty while setting up and the Dead Arm Chris just happened to have sitting open in his kitchen. Thanks everyone. Looking forward to the next one!