In search of Excitement
Checking on on some of the top Cabernets from California
Blind tasting. It’s the great equalizer, and while many people doth protest too much about the results, and often their results when undergoing such an exercise, the results tend to be irrefutable.
Yes it’s easy to argue that less expensive wines may win because they are more approachable, ready on release while the big boys always need time but that is frankly not always the case. Sometimes the big boys just aren’t very good. Over oaked and over ripe are their two big sins. With their labels revealed it’s amazing how quickly we make accommodations. With the labels hidden they remain simply flawed.
And so I look forward to my blind tastings. I love the mental challenge one has with each tasting. A recent discussion on the relative merits of blind tasting left me scratching my head when one participant commented that in blind tastings it’s always about finding the winner as opposed to tasting the wines. A comment that says far more about the commenter than the technique.
I guess it’s much easier to taste the wines knowing before the corks are pulled which wine is the winner. Definitely makes the rest of the evening easier to handle. If you think blind tastings are all about picking a winner it’s time to hang up your waiter’s friend and find a new hobby. For blind tastings are about typicity and terroir. They are about deductive reasoning. They are about everything that makes this hobby so much fun. They are about humility, and this might very well be the problem our commenter is dealing with.
We all like to think we know much more than we do about wine. We all have a tremendous amount invested, both literally and figuratively, in our favorite wines. To go to a tasting and have your favorite wines perform poorly, or worse, have your palate perform poorly is a sin worthy of seppuku in the histrionic world of Manhattan’s wine tasters. As I age, and become smoother and more complex I’m sure, I find I have increasingly less patience for those who treat this hobby as a competition of sorts. It’s not. It is a game. Blind tasting is a game. It’s done for fun and to have an unbiased experience with a wine. The results are often surprising, except of course when they’re not.
Such was the case with my recent foray into California Cabernet of recent vintages. While I may not have been able to predict the specific order in which I would have rated the wines, it was easy to pick those wines that would finish towards the top of the heap Less so for those on the bottom. iI’s impossible to drink without bias, but at least you can do what you can to minimize bias. And then have your biases confirmed! If you’re looking for great California Cabernet to enjoy now and over the mid-term it will be hard to find better wines that the 2010 Ridge Estate Cabernet or the 2009 Domaine Eden Cabernet. Vintage charts and blind tastings be damned.
Mentioned in this article