Sunday, October 5, 2014

Wine (and cheese) tasting

Kaarina organized a Cabernet Savignon blind tasting of six wines.

The 'best' wine has the honour of being  stocked at the BPYC bar.  The criteria is that a bottle has to be priced at under $15, but sometimes we throw in a more expensive one to shake things up a bit.

I love these blind tastings! I'm always surprised when we do the 'reveal' and see the labels.

We tasted, made our notes independently and then compared. 
  • Biggest disappointment: Robert Mondavi V, Napa Valley ($34.95). I thought this one would easily place first and was disappointed when it wasn't the standout of the evening. It was pleasant enough, but just didn't have much dimension. The 2011 vintage got rave reviews, but we uncorked the 2012. It didn't even make it into the top three. I expected a lot more, given the brand and the price point.
  • Another wine was unanimously eliminated for its slightly metallic taste and cloying finish: Montes Limited Selection 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile (14.90).
  • The fave:  14 Hands Hot to Trot Red Blends from Washington State. This was the first wine I tasted after a week without, so that may have had something to do with why I liked it so much. Delicious! And a velvety, sustained finish. No need to drink this quickly.
  • A close second: Sterling Vintner's from California ($13.95). Fruit forward, even finish.
  • The runners up: Les Jamelles, a vin de Pays from the South of France ($13.95) and McWilliams Hanwood Estate, from California ($14.95).
All the wines were enhanced by food. We tried Laura's scrumptious gougeres and a sampling of cheeses first. Then a classic pairing with veal stew. It never ceases to amaze me how different combinations of food and wine create such distinct taste experiences.

I'd done a bit of research beforehand to see which cheeses would best combine with cabernet sauvignon. Hard cheeses, and cheese with a sharp bite. The list I stuffed into my purse was tantalizing, so I was disappointed when Alex didn't have: Abbaye de Belloc, Ardrahan, Bra Tenero, Chalosse, Llangloffan. Le Moulis, Ouray, Reblochon, San Andreas or Tome de Couserans. Maybe next time.

Still found plenty of great samples. I lacked the willpower to stop at one or two and ended up with five incredibly tasty cheeses: Comte (cow's milk, AOC France); Aged Gouda (almost ochre in colour & unbelievably tasty with balsalmic); Don Helidoro (ewe cheese covered in Rosemary, from Spain); Linconshire Poacher (cow's milk with a nutty & fruity flavour, from England); and Robiola (cheese/ewe/sheep soft cheese from Italy/Piedmonte). All were hard cheese except the Robiola, which I purchased to have at least one soft cheese on offer. 

The Robiola didn't pair well with the cab sauv but I loved it for its own sake. A great combination of ewe/cow/sheep to complete the perfect cheese board, both creamy and a bit tart. 

At least I have a new excuse for my lack of restraint when t comes to cheese. Peter mentioned it actually has opium and morphine in it. That's right, 'Dairy Crack.' This explains a lot, now that I stop and think about it.

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