At our most recent Blind Tasting League, we had the opportunity to meet with the “Treasure Hunter” himself, Hunter Vogel. Hunter is a modern day negociant, he buys wine from some of the top producers in California, Washington State and Europe, and bottles them under his Treasure Hunter label. He donated two of the wines for our Blind Tasting League that night, and we had a lot of fun speaking with him about how he chooses the wines he buys, and also how he is able to convince the winemakers to sell them to him for pennies on the dollar!
The Wine: Zaca Mesa Viognier, Santa Ynez Valley, California, 2014
What we Tasted: Pineapple, Grapefruit, Apple, “Metal Nail File,” Marshmallow, Honey, “Cavity Filling,” Tropical Fruit, “Bitter Mineral”
What we Guessed: Our tasting group was mostly split between Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, and most of us guessed that we were in France on this one. We were way off! We didn’t pick up much in the way of the usual floral Viognier aromas, and mostly got rich, citrus fruit flavors.
What we Thought: We were split on what we thought of this acid-heavy Viognier. Some tasters thought that it “needs food,” and one specifically said that it “needs Salmon,” while some liked it on its own. “I would just drink it by itself” said one acid-loving taster, and I agreed. We all agreed that it would happily keep a Salmon filet or Grouper company!
The Wine: “Churn” Chardonnay, California, 2014
What we Tasted: Pear, “Golden Delicious Apple,” “Butterscotch,” “Circus Peanut Candy,” Kiwi, “Canned pears,” “Garden with too many flowers,” “Del-Monte Fruit Cocktail,” “Orchard where the fruit is too old”
What we Guessed: German Riesling, California Chardonnay
What we Thought: Most of us really liked this new Chardonnay from the Treasure Hunter series. “A great porch sipper” said one taster, “I like it” said another. Although some tasters found the rich, spiced-apricot flavor unappealing. “I would drink it if I was out of everything else,” quipped one taster. A good reason to keep a well-stocked wine cellar!
The Wine: Decero Cabernet Sauvgnon, Mendoza, Argentina, 2013
What we Tasted: “Sweet berry goodness,” Cigar, Caramel, “Jammy Currants,” “Goji Berry,” “Dried Cherry,” “Alcohol,” “Luden’s Cherry Cough Drop,” Chocolate, Black Fruit, Smoke
What we Guessed: Spanish Temranillo, California Cabernet Franc, Barbera/Petite Syrah Blend, Sangiovese, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
What we Thought: This one was a big hit! When we dug our noses into this big, spicy red, we all guessed that this was the Treasure Hunter. It just tasted expensive to us. “Love it,” said one taster, “I want to drink this in front of a big fire,” said another. “This would be good with a roast lamb on a spit” commented another taster. The only negative comment was that the nose wasn’t great, although they said that “it tastes better than the nose.” Overall, this was a great cab for the price!
The Wine: Treasure Hunter “Side Piece” Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla, Washington, 2015
What we Tasted: “Berry fruit,” Licorice, Tobacco, Spicy, “Itchy,” “Alcohol,” Lavender, “Grape Popsicle,” Blueberry, Vanilla, “Unripe Persimmon,” “Peach Yoghurt”
What we Guessed: Argentine Malbec, California Zinfandel, California Pinot Noir, Syrah
What we Thought: When we finally tasted the Treasure Hunter wine, our group of tasters was definitely impressed, although we were thrown by the lighter style of this Washington State Cab. Comments were very good though; “I like it,” said one, “this would be awesome with a steak,” said another. “This has a nice long finish,” commented another, a former wine judge. Overall a good showing for this Treasure Hunter Cabernet.