The most popular Tasting Game played on the tBoW veranda is bag’n'guess. The tasters bring a couple three bottles and challenge the other tasters to guess (i) the varietal, (ii) New World or Old World, and (iii) the region. The bottles go in a bag before they are poured. The honor systems prevails. We try to avert our eyes from the seal, cork and label so we can make our guesses enthusiastically and with authenticity. A crew of experienced tasters played a classic game the other night. The befuddled chatter shows good as the wines sometimes can sometimes. Here are the highlights.
These tasting events are more juggling festivals than knife throwing competitions. More Carnival than Olympics. We fielded an esteemed set of tasters blending lots of knowledge and experience with a profound hunger to bamboozle and stymie. Some more than others. In this regard the tasting was a H-U-G-E success. Since Mouse called for the event he got to assign rodent rewards.
Mr. Mouse kicked things off with two white wines: one that completely confused tBoW and Ruxin and the other that was an EZ pick.
2008 Arthur Earl Happy Canyon Vogelzanger Viognier $15: Enough names to be a duchess. Chit-chat could not decide Old World or New World. Too lean for NW. Where’s the fruit? If it is OW it is probably Spanish. This Santa Barbara Viognier with 5 years gone was dry and well made. And who is Arthur Earl? 13% No mice.
2007 August Kesseler Rheingau Riesling QBA $10: Mouse proves the point that one needn’t spend meagbux to enjoy world class wine. Light and sprightly with telltale apple and peach flavors. Glug glug. Ruxin takes one look at the label and says “Look who made it.” One solid mouse.
Kris-B arrived just in the nickel dime to kick the game up a couple notches. He is an active Garagiste buyer who can stand the shipping schedule run by mutant turtles because he loves the fun in many of Rimmerman’s picks.
2011 Les Faverelles Bourgogne “Lez Nez de Muse” $25: He dared us to guess! We said “It’s from Languedoc. The rosemary herbs de Provence nose gives it away.” We said a lot more too. All for naught. Nobody guess it was Pinot Noir from “as far north as one can go in Burgundy without entering Chablis” [ed. Vezelay]. Not even Paul Wasserman would have guessed that. Earthy, simple, disguised as vin strange. Mouse says best no mice wine I’ve ever had. Spectacularly curious but for the wine – no mice. 12%
2005 Marquis Philips McLaren Vale Shiraz 9 $25?: Ruxin makes his point which is that in the USA we get the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Aussie wines. Case in point is a widely distributed producer [ed. don't write "down under"] from down under who produces many wines below the million bottle permafrost. Same is true for Argentina and I would bet for Chile and South Africa as well. The wine was nothing special. Point made. No mice. The alcohol was huge at 16.5%
Kris-B and Ruxin now locked in an unplanned teté a teté for most obscure and under-recognized/appreciated wines. Kris won the former title and Jim the latter with the next two selections.
2008 Balciana Vedicchio dei Castelli di Jesi $??: Who brings a Verdicchio to a wine tasting? Kris-B does. This wine buffaloed everyone. Floral honeysuckle, semi-ripe, not luscious, peach pit, and balanced. The words flowed like Yosemite Falls in early Spring. In the end when “the reveal” was made nobody knew what to say. Mouse did offer the producer is very highly regarded and that verdicchio [ed. fish bottle yeh? Not this one.] is grown all over Italy. A co-op wine. One mouse. 15%
But Ruxin had one bottle left in ze kooler.
2002 Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris Altenbourg Vendanges Tardives $70ish: Jim loves Alsatian dessert wines. He brought a real treat that was wine o’ the evening. The definition of well-crafted wine. Acid and dessert fruit in perfect harmony. Neither competes for center stage. Both on the palate simultaneously, perfectly ripened grapes. Like a panther perched on a tennis ball. It is rare and exceptional to get to enjoy a wine this well made. Think Lladro grace, skill, perfection.
Super evening. The tasters arrive….