Friday, September 17, 2010

Blind Tasting. (Melini Chianti)

Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re fooling yourself.  It always gives me a great deal more confidence when I find my tasting notes are closely aligned to someone else’s tasting notes.  Tasting wine is hard; there are a lot of subtle nuances that you have to pay attention to.  When I am trying a wine for the first time I try to avoid reading any description of the flavours or aromas.  I smell the wine I taste the wine and I write down all the flavours and aromas I can detect.  Once I have agreed with myself about the aroma and flavour of the wine then and only then do I read descriptions of the wine, be it on the back of the bottle, in a magazine or some other source.  These days I tend to only buy wine for which I have seen a positive review.  This ensures that I will either get a good wine or I will have license to write a nasty letter to the editor, almost as satisfying as a good wine.  It also means there will a description of the wine.  Even if the wine turns out to be sub par at least I can compare my tasting notes.  It is a big confidence booster when your tasting notes align themselves with those of a professional sommelier.  If your notes are not the exact same don’t worry it’s to be expected.  Consulting multiple sources for tasting notes of a given wine will reveal that while on the whole the flavours and aromas described are often similar between reviewers but there are usually some differences.  One person may describe a chocolate aroma while another may describe a tobacco or vanilla aroma.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe people are really responding so positively to the taste of the wine rather than just the name and the perceived prestige of a wine.  I’ve seen it before, a bottle with a poor reputation produces sour scolding faces upon quaffing even though I think the wine is perfectly fine.  An expensive wine that tastes like a poor blend of gasoline and coffee grinds which everyone in the room is more than happy to drink.  Some people are bound to react based on the bottle and the name rather than the flavour.  That being said you can be sure not everyone drinking wine is BSing you with a simple test.

A few years ago a few of my friend and I had decided to have a wine night.  Everybody had to bring a bottle or two and we would sit around and drink.  I, being the malicious person that I am, and knowing my friend Carole’s honest assessment of the Nova Scotia wine industry, decided to bring a bottle of Blomidon Estates Baco Noir (from Nova Scotia).   I wasn’t just trying to bring a wine in hopes that Carole wouldn’t like it so I could drink it all myself.  I was trying to see if her assessment was a result of her own experience or just things she had heard. I poured 3 glasses, for me, Chris and Carole.  I wouldn’t let them see what the wine was, I told them nothing about the wine, all they had to rely on in judging the wine was their palate’s.  Both of them agreed there were nice flavours to the wine but the wine was lacking something, not enough backbone, the wine appeared flabby.  To both Chris and Carole’s credit they were right when the guessed it to be a Nova Scotian wine.  That is how you can tell someone actually knows what they are talking about, when they back up their opinions with accuracy when tasting blind.

I feel the need to mention that while the Nova Scotia wine industry is still young, and many of their wines cannot yet compete with Ontario, BC, Washington or Oregon, the industry is improving.  Most recently I tried an amazing NS wine: Benjamin Bridge’s Nova 7.  Nova 7 is a beautiful example of what Nova Scotia can accomplish.  It is a semi-sweet semi-sparkling white wine.  If you ever have a chance to try this wine you will not be disappointed.  One thing to keep in mind though is Nova 7 has yet to be officially released, they are still working out some kinks.  Hopefully the official launch will prove successful. 

Wine: Melini Chianti, Pian Del Masso (or in english Floor of the Rock, There is a big rock at the vineyard, hence the name.)

Grape: 85% Sangiovese, 15% other including Merlot, the data sheet didn't really specify though.

Region: Chianti, Tuscany, Italy (Map shows Tuscany)


Year: 2008

Alcohol: 12.5% by vol.

Price: 13.99

Aroma: Cherry, Vanilla, Black Pepper, Tobacco

Taste: Raspberry, Raisin, Black Pepper, Chocolate

Notes: This wine is available in almost every province across Canada!  I don't know about its availability elsewhere.  It's a nice wine with a nice price tag, I recommend you pick it up and drink it while eating spaghetti and meat sauce as I did.  It's medium bodied, fruit forward but balanced with spicy earthy flavours, the tannins were a little higher than I would have liked otherwise it was very smooth.

Final Verdict: Good wine, good price overall rating B+ for its price range A-.  Pick up a bottle now!

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