We brown-bagged the four bottles, randomly mixed them up and started sampling enthusiastically. Amazingly, consensus between the 4 or us (Jan, Kathy, John, me) was quickly reached. The ‘left hand bottle’ was quite superb. Much more complex than the others, prominent cedary oak, spice and black cherry dominating the palate. The lingering velvety finish called everyone back for more. And it tasted like the best was yet to come.
We were evenly split on the two right-hand bottles. One was obviously the Brokenwood, its warm climate heritage and high alcohol revealing its identity. It was a fine stuff though, not subtle, but excellent fruit/oak balance. The second (preferred by moi) was a beautiful, elegant wine. Much lighter than the other three, bright cherry fruit, gentle oak and an acid structure all in wonderful harmony.
The remaining bottle started promisingly, but on a second taste everyone was disappointed – it seemed to fall apart. The acid was overly aggressive, tooth-enamel-eatingly so. The fruit was pleasant, but the palate didn’t come together cleanly, with the flavors simply not well integrated. No one rushed back for more of this one.
We all bet on which wine was which before removing them from their covers. And we were all wrong (apart from the Brokenwood). The results were:
1) Walla Walla Vintners
Joint 2) Three Rivers and Brokenwood (2 votes each)
So, it just goes to show that reputation and price mean nothing in a blind tasting like this. I suspect we’ll be tasting some Leonetti’s in a blind cabernet tasting quite soon, to see how it scrubs up in some more esteemed Washington and Australian company.