Sunday, January 18, 2015

Blind Tasting Loire Wines

In December I was sent the two bottles you see pictured here with instructions to taste them and guess what each bottle was. Besides knowing the color, obviously, the only other bit of information I knew was that they were both Loire Valley wines. Many other bloggers were invited to participate too, and a list of our guesses is available here:

The first person to correctly guess both wines wins the Wine Blog Trophy, but I am not quite sure if that's a real trophy or not. Also, I didn't guess correctly so I am not winning anything. The sponsoring organization was Le Salon des Vins de Loire. Typically long French trade-group name.

Let's talk about the wines themselves. I purposefully kept both wines at room temperature, both because I have a cold house and because I wanted to get the most aromatic and flavor qualities from each wine.

The first wine is a white, identified merely by its number, 261. It pours a very pale gold, suggesting perhaps some oxidation has taken place. On the nose of 261 I get a dominating aroma of sherry and roasted nuts, but it's not potent, just the thing that outshines more subtle aromas of quince and citrus. On the palate that theme continues, with oxidized notes sharing space alongside minerality, sweet citrus, and good acidity. Given all of that information, my initial guess of 2012 Saumur is wrong. This is older, or intentionally oxidized. If it had more residual sugar I'd think Montlouis Sur Loire, but now I think it's a 2010 Vouvray.

The second wine, red, is number 142. This one is interesting, as it's a dark red, but distinctly red, in
my glass. It doesn't have the purple tones I associate with Loire Valley Gamay Noir or Malbec (Cot). Rather, the red does look a lot like cabernet franc. Aggressive green bell pepper and jalapeno aromas would back that up, as cabernet franc does have a higher level of pyrazines than other red varieties. This wine is very simple on the palate, with firm, chewy tannins and lots of the green bell pepper dominating. Supporting notes of tart cherry, herb, and dusty minerality would further reinforce my initial impression. I stupidly guessed Couer-Cheverny at first, thinking this might just be underripe gamay noir, but that is the wrong guess. I think this is cabernet franc from a cool vintage, aged entirely in concrete. 2011 Chinon is my updated stab in the dark.

Official Results: both were 2010 vintage, the red from Bourgueil and the white an Anjou Blanc.

Blind tastings are fun and especially humbling. I love doing them for those reasons, plus I am always learning new things about my palate when I taste with fewer preconceived notions about a wine. Add in the fact that these wines are from a region I love, a region that's inspired some of the wines I make at Random Wine Company, and the result is a super fun afternoon. Since the Jets aren't in the playoffs, this saved me from watching the Patriots play.

Thank you to Les Salon des Vins de Loire for the samples, all the way from France.

Beau Carufel