Recent Blind Tasted Wines

7 May 2013
Author: Jeannie Cho Lee


When I became a Master of Wine, a well-known Master of Wine offered me some wise advice: ¡°Now that you are an MW, never taste blind. You have everything to lose and nothing to gain. I have not always heeded that advice and I still end up tasting blind in public, often not by choice.

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Earlier, at a friend’s dinner party, we were provided no less than nine wines blind. I have to admit that I still love tasting blind ¨C discovering new wines without the bias of a label, reputation or knowledge of the history of the producer or origin. It allows you to hone your tasting ability purely based on what is in the glass and what you taste at that moment in time. I still get a thrill from new discoveries and this time, I made a few including a 1961 Clos du Mont-Olivet Chateauneuf-du-Pape which I fell in love with instantly. Below are my tasting notes from a wonderful evening of blind tasting with friends.


1. 1997 Chateau d¡¯Yquem (Half bottle), Sauternes, Graves, Bordeaux, France
A gorgeous Sauternes that is more evolved because it is from a half bottle. A wine of class and breeding, the Yquem is at once generous and discrete, complex without being showy. The wine offers an array of beautiful flavours that range from honeysuckle, marmalade to toffee and dried apricots. This wine has a long life ahead of it with the depth of flavours to support it through many decades. (96)


2. 1961 Clos du Mont-Olivet Chateaunuef-du-Pape, Southern Rhone, Rhone, France
This wine has such an enticing spicy, floral and dried fruit perfume that it would have been sufficient just to be able to smell it all night. The wine has a wonderful combination of sweet fruit notes along with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg along with earthy and roasted herb elements. When tasted blind, this wine was evolved and obviously mature, but showed no signs of declining. Many guessed Burgundy for this wine and no one came close to guessing the vintage. An impressive wine that was my wine discovery of the evening! (95)


3. 1985 Chateau Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, Graves, Bordeaux, France
A beautiful wine with such an expressive aroma, I mistook it for Chateau Margaux. The finely-grained texture of the tannins and the incredible finesse of this wine tasted blind would be hard to mistake it for anything except a first growth or top second growth from Bordeaux. This nearly 30-year old Haut-Brion is at its glorious peak right now. (95)


4. 2002 Vincent Girardin Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune, Cote d’Or, Burgundy, France
This wine was advanced, tasting older than its 11 years. With rich gold colour and dried chrysanthemum notes and unctuous palate, one could easily imagine this to be at least 15 years old. Primary fruits have evolved into dried herbs and minerals and the acidity is so well integrated into the wine that the palate texture is soft and round, suggesting Meursault rather than a Chevalier-Montrachet in the blind tasting. Drink this wine now ¨C it is at its peak. (92)


5. 1992 Penfolds Grange Hermitage, South Australia
This wine tasted blind stood out in its ripeness, thicker texture and full bodied profile from the 8 other European wines tasted blind. The wine is still youthful with blackberry and plum flavours along with sweet cinnamon and licorice notes. A beautifully aged Grange that proves how well this wine can age. (92)


6. 1990 Chateau Laville Haut-Brion Blanc, Pessac-Leognan, Graves, Bordeaux, France
An amazing white Bordeaux that has aged beautifully. The deep gold-amber colour offers clues to its age but very few tasting this wine blind guessed 1990; I guessed 1997. Tasted blind, it was distinctively a Bordeaux white of great breeding. A full bodied, generous white with toasted nuts, honey and dried herb notes. Fairly long finish. Currently, the fruit from this vineyard is bottled as Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion since 2009 and is owned by the Dillon family of Chateau Haut-Brion. (91)


7. 1995 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto (Double magnum), Tuscany, Italy
This wine tasted blind alongside Chateau Haut-Brion was altogether a different breed and character. The tannins are chewy and elevated with a density that suggests a warmer region than Bordeaux. A full bodied, intense wine that would taste much better were it not served blind alongside the 1985 Haut-Brion which made this wine seem too brawny and overt. (91)


8. 2001 Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Chaupin, Southern Rhone, Rhone, France
This is an atypical Chateauneuf-du-Pape because of its use of a single variety rather than the region’s traditional cepage. With 100% old vine Grenache, this wine has the depth and tannins rarely found in Grenache, which tends to quickly lose its colour and has gentle rather than firm tannins. When tasting this wine blind, it is easy to venture to northern Rhone because of its firm structure and intense blackberry and floral profile. The wine still needs a few year’s time in bottle to show its full potential. Drink 2015. (91)


9. 1993 Domaine du Comte Armand Pommard 1er Cru Clos des Epenots, Cote de Beaune, Cote d’Or, Burgundy, France
This is a dark, concentrated Pommard that still hasn’t shed its harsh tannic grip on the wine. The structure still dominates the dark earthy fruit and one has to ask, will this wine ever come around, if it hasn’t after 20 years? I would bet that while the fruit may surface a bit more with time, the chewy tannins will remain at the fore. (89)