The LUSH staff and lovely neighborhood hostess, Tatiana, convened for an unruly evening of blind tasting and secret Santa gift exchange.
While Lance was MIA from the party, he was performing the perfunctory good fiance task of attending a very important wedding in Texas. He joined in by phone at 3am, and took a bit of heckling by text messages…
Elfster helped us put together a true ‘secret’ gift exchange. Gifts were piled anonymously and given out at random. Each of us bought a bottle of single varietal wine and smuggled it in, incognito, to the party. The bottles were placed in brown paper and opened by Tatiana. Bottles were opened one at a time, at random, and all guessing was conducted immediately.
Before jumping into the blind tasting, we warmed up and cleared our palates with a MAGNUM of Michel Arnould Grand Cru Champagne and an extensive spread of wine friendly nibbles. Yum.
We tasted a wine and guessed. Then we opened a gift. Good times. Great gifts. Sharing wine, very crazy conversation (Twilight, anyone?), geeking out of wine…and a few bottles of beer, and warm food…yay.
Wine #1: 2007 Domaine Monte De Luz Tannat, San Jose, Uruguay
Tannat, the red fleshed grape from the Madiran region of Southwestern France, has found a new home in Uruguay. Dark, dusty, and spicy on the nose with aromas of violets and lavender. The palate is full of black cherry, ripe plum, and earthy minerality. No one guessed Tannat from Uruguay. Petit Sirah, Syrah guesses all around, maybe a Cabernet in there.
[Mitch, $9.50 at LUSH]
Wine #2: 2006 Vinedo de los Vientos ‘Platinum’ Tannat, Atlantida,
Yes, you are not seeing double. We had TWO Tannats from Uruguay. They were poured sequentially. They were the FIRST two bottles. What? Our teeth turned purple at this point. From the Vineyard of the Winds, this bottle was silky, plush, and full of fuzzy ripe fruit and rich tannin. Not nearly as scary as Tannat can be. It paired well with our pulled pork and pate. No one guessed Tannat from Uruguay. French or cooler climate Syrah from Cali were dominant guesses. And, Tannat is the healiest grape in the world…so us lushes are in good shape.
[Tatiana, $6 Big Box store]
Wine #3: 2003 Barros Touriga Nacional, Portugal
Although we all know and love this Portuguese wine, none of us pinned it down. I think we were all a bit taken aback by the first two wines. I was convinced it was Petit Verdot. Everyone guessed Spain with Kelly querying Portugal, cool climate Syrah, no one guessed Touriga Nacional. Mitch had drank this very bottle just hours prior and didn’t recognize it either. So weird! Rich, tannic, spicy, and full of dried fruit notes…this gets better and better as it opens up. I believe we finished it in 8 minutes flat.
[Kristin, $30.50 at LUSH]
Wine #4: 2006 Brumont Les Jardins de Bouscasse, Petit Corbu, Madiran, France
I thought this might be my wine…but not so much. Deep golden hues. Oxidized style. Rich, full, silky and packed with earthy clay flavors, honeyed ginger, and buttery golden raisins. Sounds weird, but it is delicious. I think guesses ranged all over the Southern Rhone whites…Grenache Blanc, Marssanne, Roussanne, Picpoul. Italy and Spain made the pool of guesses, as well.
[Colyn, $16.50 at LUSH]
Wine #5: 2005 Perlat Syrah, Montsant, Spain
From the $5 No Questions Asked bin at Lush on Halsted…this wine was surprisingly good. Dusty, spicy, and dirty, this little wine was actually varietally correct. There may have been some Syrah guesses, some Garnacha and Carignan, but no one pinned down Montsant. This wine was great while it lasted, the little bit left in the bottle kinda fell apart after 3 hours. Not bad for $5.
[Kelly, $5 at LUSH]
Wine #6: Hildago La Gitana ‘Fino’, Manzanilla, Jerez, Spain
Obviously sherry…several of us guessed this correctly, as we know and love this bottle. This was very refreshing as a break right in the middle of the blind tasting. Fresh and full of briny, salty, nuttiness, the ‘fino’ style of sherry is dry and crisp, similar to a white wine you would serve as an apertif. Gorgeous with olives, meats, nuts, and such…you should really have this on hand for any shindig.
[Erin, $13.50 at LUSH]
Wine #7: 2007 La Cetto Zinfandel, Baja California, Mexico
Wow, this juicy, ripe wine tricked us all. The closest guess was ‘Southern California’. I guessed high elevation Zin. This wine was a tasty array of freshly plucked berries with a touch of minerals and spice. Fun, easy to drink, and totally flamboyant. Keep an eye out for Mexican wines in the near future.
[Lynn, $10 at LUSH]
Wine #8: 2006 Cantine Terra di Lavoro Asprinio d’Aversa, Italy
Obviously, this is my wine. I am a weird Italian wine nut. So, I abstained…everyone guessed Mediterranean, several hit right on Italy. Again, an oxidized style, with dried white fruit, flowers, clay and minerals and a bit of honeyed, crisp apples. Although we have a sparkling Asprinio at LUSH, the two taste entirely different and I wouldn’t have guessed they were composed of the same grape. Weee! Erin guessed Vermentino, maybe Pigato…
[Rachel, $19 at Cellar Rat]
Wine #9: 2006 Moric Blaufrankisch, Burgenland, Austria
Another super tricky wine. Many guesses of Burgundy, I thought Nerello Mascalese…our tired palates were excited by this light and minerally, layered, complex, and intellectual. Lots of exasperated rolling eyes as we tried in vain to guess this wine. One guess of German Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir). This is Roland Velich’s project, which has been called by some “Blaufrankisch Unplugged”. This particular winery has been given the honor of having the BEST Austrian reds EVER. Sweet red berries, muted spice, dust, minerals and a laid back elegance that impressed us all.
[Jane, $25 at Crush in New York…may be coming to LUSH soon!]
And then we opened the BIG guns…2005 Brochelle Zinfandel Magnum #13. Hand numbered. Waxed. Big, silky like crushed velvet…smashed blackberry, blueberry with crystallized sugar, spicy vanilla oak. Love it.
After resting for a bit and guzzling copious amounts of non-spiked cider, water, and tea, we called it a night. The ice tried to kill us, but we all persevered to another day. Until next time…