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An unusual blind tasting

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I received a new invitation to join the special Wine Club on MON. As usual the wines were an unexpected surprise. This time it was bigger than the house. The surprise was that all four red wines were served blind. The first wine was a German Riesling from Pfalz that was served with shown label.

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2011 Reichstrat von Buhl Ungeheuer Forst Riesling Trocken Grosses Gewachs has a pale straw yellow color. Initially it has a tempered nose, elegant, resembling more a Sauvignon Blanc than a Riesling. As it aerates it gets closer to the Riesling aromatic profile showing mild aromas of pineapple, apricots, peaches, flowers and dry lemon peel. It has sharp acidity, that feels a bit too pronounced at the moment, similar flavors as on the nose, vibrant citrus fruit and long finish, slightly sour. It is an elegant and well made wine that needs to age more in the bottle but has potential. (90/100)

Next four red wines were served completely blind. The host prepared a huge surprise and as much as it was declared from the get go that this is not a contest, I was excited to see if I can guess the regions or the wines. Looking back at last night experience I do realize how humbling and also relevant blind tastings are.

First wine served had intense aromas of black fruits and coffee, with touches of spices. Based on the color and the nose I said Syrah from a warm place. In the mouth it was trickier. Somebody said Pinot Noir, I argued it wasn’t based on color and aromatic profile. It was a 2005 Umathum Ried Hallebuhl – a Zweigelt majority blend. I had this wine previously but did not manage to recognize it. I loved it when I had it in the past, but this evening it pleased the least. It has soft tannins, well structured, velvety mouth feeling and a medium finish. (89/100)

On the second wine I was able to say without any doubt that it is a Bordeaux. It was very open and expressive, with a lovely bouquet that reminded of aromatic herbs, cedar, graphite, charcoal and tons of cassis. I said initially Pessac-Leognan but after a few moments I realized it lacked the smoky Pessac profile. It was 1999 Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron. The wine offers maximum drinking pleasure today. In the mouth it has a healthy structure, fully integrated tannins, bright acidity and tons of expressive flavors on the palate. Long finish, fresh, with black tea leaves and blackcurrant. The most open, fully developed and expressive wine of the evening. It can also hold easily another 5-7 years. It is a huge success considering the 1999 vintage but today it is at its peak. (92/100)

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Third wine had a warmer profile on the nose that made it initially difficult to pin point. Intense aromas of very ripe blackberry, blackcurrant, prunes and macerated black cherry, mixed with cinnamon and cloves made up the nose. Extremely young and the most tannic of all, made it easily the youngest wine of the line up. It has depth, structure, flesh and powerful tannins that will offer enough support to age well. Long finish, very intense on primary aromas and dark chocolate. I managed to guess until the end of the evening it was a wine from Davino. Could not say the vintage or the specific wine. It was a 2006 Davino Reserva Zamfirescu (predominantly Merlot – the one with the yellow drawing on the label). It has at least 10 years ahead. (92-93/100)

The fourth wine was the biggest surprise and a first time for me. By far the most consistent and impressive wine of the tasting. I was able to recognize Bordeaux but that’s where my expertise ended. It was closed on the nose initially, with little fruit and it started to open up slowly as time passed. It did not get close to the expressiveness of 1999 Pichon Baron and I am fairly sure that not even prolonged aeration will not take it there now. This wine needs years of aging in the bottle. In the mouth the wine confirmed its class: superb structure, polished but assertive tannins, quite closed on the palate, but you can certainly guess something big is happening here. Long finish, fresh, assertive flavors that mix blackcurrant, smoke, gravel, black tea and tobacco. It was 2001 Chateau Haut Brion Pessac Leognan. It has finesse, great length and purity. This will probably need at least 5 more years to open up and become more expressive, while it can age for decades. (94/100)

As much as this was a great academic exercise, the surprises were without any doubt huge. All 4 red wines were spectacular. When you remove the label out of the equation things will offer huge surprises as it was the case also tonight.

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