Cabernet blind tasting party.

In Bordeaux, Cabernet, California Wine, French Wine, Napa Valley, Washington on October 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm


A few months ago, a woman called my store looking for some suggestions planning a wine tasting party at her house. She knew she wanted to do a tasting of west-coast Cabernets, and she had a budget in mind, but didn’t have much else planned. I suggested a blind tasting of a broad variety of styles so the guests would be able to form opinions about the wine based simply on the juice, without being influenced by labels or knowledge of price. Based on the budget and number of guests, I picked 9 bottles. 7 were west coast, and 2 imported ‘ringer’ wines. They were:

2008 Root 1 Cabernet, Colchagua Valley, Chile – $10.49

2008 Nelms Road Cabernet, Washington State – $17.49

2007 Basel Cellars Claret, Walla Walla Valley – $20.00

2006 Three Saints Cabernet, Santa Ynez Valley, California – $19.99

2006 Ramey Claret, Napa Valley – $35

2005 Chateau Ormes de Pez, Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux – $38.50

2002 Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages Cabernet, Sonoma County – $54

2004 Dunham Cellars Lewis Vineyard Cabernet, Columbia Valley, Washington – $70

2005 Silver Oak Cabernet, Napa Valley – $79

The wines were all brown-bagged, and all the party guests were allowed to know was the price range of the selection and that the wines were all Cabernet or Cab-heavy Bordeaux blends, and mostly domestic.

The Root 1 was unfortunately corked, so it was removed from competition immediately, but the rest of the wines showed well, and roughly as I expected them to. I can’t claim to have been completely objective since I knew what was in each bag, but for what it’s worth, my favorites of the group were the Three Saints, the Ormez de Pez, the Chateau St Jean (Which was fantastically aromatic) and the Dunham.

Likewise, I can’t say that the folks attending the party were completely unbiased, as nobody was spitting, so there is at least some small question of whether they liked more expensive wines better, or whether their judgement had begun to be compromised. And there was no official tally of votes, but by general voice vote, the top wines were the Dunham, the Ormes de Pez, and the Chateau st Jean. There was a general wave of shock in the crowd when the label of the Silver Oak was revealed, as it was a wine with which everybody was familiar, and one which they all generally considered to be quite good, but not one person in the group had chosen it as their favorite for the evening.

My goal in proposing this event as a blind tasting was to get the guests really thinking about the wines with their senses, rather than judging based on a preconceived notion of a certain label, or listening to what any wine writer has to say. That having been the goal, I consider the event to have been a smashing success. Everybody had a great time and, hopefully, they all got their wine-drinking horizons broadened just a little bit.

  1. hi!This was a really excellent theme!
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    Also I obtain much in your blog really thanks very much i will come again

  2. WORD! using your senses can be fun!

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