On Sunday, November 19, thirteen SOBs (Sons of Bacchus) assembled with two daughters of Dionysus for a tasting of wines representing "Archetypes of Region and Variety." It was an interesting tasting, partly a guessing game as to what each wine was, all being served blind, as well as a ranking of tasters' preferences. Here's what we had, in order of tasting, with my note, scores and comments.
First, there was a flight of four white wines which turned out to be the following.
2014 E. Guigal Saint Joseph Blanc - This comes from a North Rhone appellation just south of Côte Rotie, produced from Marsanne and Roussanne. It showed a brilliant gold color and aromas of peach and citrus. The flavors were full bodied and rich, flinty, almost austere. 19/20 points. It was my favorite of the four whites and I guessed it was a Rhone white which was correct.
2009 Konnigsaard Chardonnay, Napa Valley - This was decidedly different from the other whites, I guessed a rather oaky White Burgundy, with a rich, almost smoky nose and intriguing, piercing oriental flavors. 19/20 points. This could be considered an Archetype of Napa Chardonnay with some age.
2016 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé - The pinkish copper color of this wine was a give away and nearly everyone guessed Bandol. It showed classic aromas of raspberry and orange peel with dry, precise flavors from beginning to end. Tempier is considered the best producer. 19/20 points.
2015 Stephane Ogier Condrieu, Cuvée Vernon - This North Rhone Viognier also stood out, Lemon gold colored and highly aromatic with floral aromas. The flavors were laser like, flinty and saline with a long dry finish. My second favorite. 19+/20 points. I did not correctly identify this wine.
The whites were followed by a flight of five reds.
2013 John Duval "Eligo" Shiraz, Barossa Valley - The inky color and intense aromas of dark fruits, tobacco and bacon suggested a Syrah or a Priorat to me. It turned out to be Australian, with a minerally, tightly structured character. 19/20 points. Duval's wines are considered Archetypes of Barossa Shiraz. This was brought by Gilles Nicault who works with Duval on the Long Shadows Sequel Syrah.
2009 E. Guigal "Château d'Ampuis" Côte Rôtie - This is produced by Guigal all from Domaine grapes. Deep ruby-coffee colored with intense aromas and loads of dark, complex fruits and a long finish, I guessed this to be a Côte Rôtie. 19.5/20 points. My second choice in the flight. I took this wine, recalling a visit to Guigal in 2014.
2014 Reynvaan Family Vineyards "Stonessence" Syrah, Walla Walla Valley - With a brick red color, a rich, earthy nose of raspberry and cherry, and deep, penetrating velours flavors, I mistook this for a Grand Cru Burgundy. 19.5/20 points. Kevin Pogue brought this and put it into a Cabernet bottle to throw tasters off, but I didn't notice the shape. My first choice, with Guigal close.
2008 Pe Franco Monastrell, Jumilla - Monastrell is the Catalan name for Mourvèdre. It showed a deep color and smoky aromas of semi dried fruits, with a fleshy, minerally texture. I mistook it for a South Rhone with some age such as a Gigondas or Chateauneuf du Pape. 19+/20 points.
2012 Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino - Deep ruby colored with a smoke and dust nose and minerally dried cherry flavors and sturdy tannins, I pegged this as Italian but couldn't decide if it was Barolo or Brunello. 19/20 points.
The second flight of reds consisted of the following.
2014 Etna Rosso (forgot name of producer) - This comes from the volcanic slopes below Mount Etna in Sicily, made from the indigenous Novello grape. It showed a medium ruby color and intriguing aromas of strawberry, cherry, anise, orange peel with velvety sweet-dry fruit flavors and a a satiny tannin finish. It was hard to identify, being from not well known DOC. I guessed Châteauneuf du Pape from the minerally character. 19/20 points.
2008 Produttori di Barbaresco Cru Rabaja - This showed a deep ruby color and a smoky, nose of semi dried fruits, tobacco and coffee with deep somewhat tannic flavors. While it was quite estimable, it did not come on as archetypical as some of the top producers. 19/20 points.
2010 Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape - Beaucastel is considered one of the archetypical producers. This showed a deep ruby color and aromas of dark fruits, tobacco, and coffee with thick mouth filling flavors that showed distinct mas (cobblestone) character. I correctly identified it as CdP. 19+/20 points.
2014 Domaine Rostaing "Ampechum" Côte Rôtie - Rostaing is a highly respected producer. It displayed a deep ruby color and a smoky tobacco, cedar and sandalwood nose and deep, direct and well structured flavors that showed considerable refinement. I identified it as a young Côte Rôtie. 19+/20 points.
2002 Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley - Semi opaque colored, this wine possessed intense aromas of dark fruits, mushroom, tobacco, cedar and dried roses. The dark maturing fruit flavors were intense and focused, with a hedonistic finish. I thought it might be a Medoc such as a Pauillac or St. Julien. 19/20 points. The Caymus Special Selection is famous as an Archetypical Napa Cabernet.
Finally, Philippe Michel brought a Port served blind.
1995 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port, Quinta de Vargellas - This showed a deep ruby color and a rich, aromatic nose of orange peel and old wood. The flavors were thick and chewy, not too sweet, with a long, complex finish. I guessed it to be a vintage Port from the mid 1990's. Quinta de Vargellas is bottled in vintages not declared. 19+/20 points.
Thanks to Billo Naravane for organizing the SOB tastings and to Jamie Kennedy for hosting what turned out to be a memorable tasting.