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At each Blind Tasting League gathering, using the techniques of the masters, you will learn how to identify the grape, country of origin and more and more as we progress through the wide world of wine. You can pick and choose the classes but the more you come, the more you learn!
Andy Hale has worked in the wine industry for over a decade, first as a server and later as a Sommelier for the 5-Star 5-Diamond rated Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island, located outside of Charleston, SC. After a brief stint as a wine rep, he now runs the education department at Metro Wines where he works to take the intimidation out of choosing the right bottle of wine. He is co-founder of the Asheville School of Wine and Asheville’s Blind Tasting League and teaches classes on wine for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute through UNC Asheville. He is a Certified Specialist of Wine and first level Sommelier.

His hobbies include eating and drinking (wine, beer, liquor or otherwise), hiking, snowboarding, and cooking with his wife, Christina and daughter Josephine. He is also an amateur bee-keeper and home-brewer. He is a native North Carolinian who attended Appalachian State University, before moving to Charleston to further his wine and food education. He loved the culinary scene in Charleston, but is very glad to be back in the mountains of Western North Carolina!

November 2nd Blind Tasting Results

Another great round of Blind Tasting fun! Almost all of us got the first two right and almost all of us missed the last two. In case you missed it, here are our guesses and tasting notes.

 

The Wine: Le Grand St. Vincent Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, Loire Valley, France, 2015

What we Tasted: "Big, huge grapefruit", "Green Peas", Lychee, Tropical Fruits, Grassy, "steeliness", Stone, "Sour Patch Kids Candy", "Smells like and old washcloth" (He had a cold).

What we Guessed: Everyone guessed Sauvignon Blanc on this one. We disagreed on where it was from though. Most thought it was from New Zealand due to the grapefruity nose it showed, although a few guessed France correctly.

What we Thought: Most everyone enjoyed this wine, although some said that it "needs food" or needed a "Piece of fish" to go with it. While it certainly would go well with seafood, one said that it would be "good on a hot day" and would be good all on its own.

 

The Wine: Thomas Henry Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California, 2015

What we Tasted: Pear, "Very ripe apple", "Butterscotch", "more loamy than red Georgia clay earth", "Cinnamon/clove", "Funky fungal", "apple pie/baked apple", "Bamboo rocks", "Rome or winesap apples"

What we Guessed:  Everybody guessed Chardonnay as soon as we smelled the oak but we differed on where it was from. Most of us thought it was from California, but a few didn't think it was oakey enough. They thought it was from South America.

What we Thought: Our tasting crowd mostly liked this one, although one confessed to not being "into oaked wines". One taster said they "like it", another said it was "ok" and another still said it was just "drinkable".

 

The Wine: Domaine Dupeuble Gamay, Beaujolais, FRance, 2015

What we Tasted: Cherry, Cranberry, "off brand Twizzler", "Blackberry Tart", "Sour Cherry Pie", roses, "Pink Peppercorns", "Cherry Cough Syrup", "Wax Lips", "Assorted Nerds Candy"

What we Guessed: Syrah, South African Pinot Noir, Tuscan Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, "Cheap pinot Noir", Nebbiolo

What we Thought: Our tasters were split on this one.  "I don't like it" said one taster, "It would be better with food" said another, "I really like it" said another. A few said it was "ok" and "meh" said another. After some tasting, most of us agreed that it was a pretty good Pinot Noir Substitute.

The Wine: Santa Carolina Pinot Noir Reserva, Chile, 2015

What we Tasted: "a little stinky," "Oysters", "Seaweed", "Beet Juice", "Smoky bacon fat", "Hoisin/Soy Sauce", "Mucky soil", "Black Tea", "Wet Tree Bark", Leather & Dust.

What we Guessed: Tempranillo, "Something Spanish", South African Cabernet Franc.

What we Thought: Most of us enjoyed this one as well, although a few of us thought it tasted a little "strange". This smoky, Chilean Pinot had some very interesting flavors that didn't make anyone immediately guess Pinot Noir. "I like it" said one taster. "It would be perfect with dark chocolate" said another. We all agreed that it was a pretty solid wine for the price, although one commented that they "wouldn't buy a case" of it.

 

 

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October 5th Blind Tasting Results

It was another fun, high-energy tasting and our panel really brought their taste buds! It was a high scoring game with a lot of correct guesses throughout the evening. It was also a personal best for me, getting 3 out of 4 right! Sorry for the bragging, I'm usually proud of myself if I get 1 or 2 right.

Here are the notes from our October session.

The Wine: Pierre Sparr Riesling, Alsace, France, 2014

What we tasted: Pear, Melon, Pineapple, "Elderflower", Concrete, "Beach-Ball", Honeysuckle, "Hint of lemon and stale water", Honeydew melon, Apple and "Way Citrus"

What We Guessed: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Alsatian Riesling

What we Thought: One of my favorite wines, but not as popular with our tasting panel. "Not my fav" said one taster, "A little sour" said another. One mentioned that it might taste better "with some food". Despite all of the mediocre reviews, there were several tasters who later said that this was their favorite of the night!

The Wine: Indaba Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa, 2015

What we tasted: "Looks like City-Water", Floral, Pear, Meyer Lemon, Faint Honey, "Gin", Juniper, Metallic, Ash, Pepper

What we Guessed: Italian Pinot Grigio, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Calufornia Viognier, Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc

What we Thought: The jury was split on this little South African gem. "I like that" one taster said, another mentioned that she liked it "the more I taste it." Another commented that they didn't "love it." Overall most agreed that it was pretty good for a bargain priced Sauvignon Blanc.

The Wine: Mud House Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2013

What we Tasted: "Peppery, sour-cherry," Mineral, Fig, "Stewed Cherry," Chalky, "Maple Syrup," "Something warm and sweet," Leather

What we Guessed: Young Bordeaux, "Old, poor-quality gamay", German Pinot Noir, Italian Barbera, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, California Pinot Noir

What we Thought: This one wasn't as big of a hit with our crew as the others. One taster said it tasted "watered down." "Too short in the finish" complained another. Another said "I liked it at first but it offends me the more I taste it." There were a few who said that they "Liked it ok," but most of the comments on this one were negative. It's hard to make good Pinot Noir under $15.

The Wine: Artadi Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain, 2014

What we Tasted: Cassis, Violets, Star Anise, "Grape Bubble-Gum," "Welch's Grape Juice," "Somthing Burned," Mint, "Nerds Candy"

What we Guessed: Grenache, Tempranillo, Australian Shiraz, Argentine Malbec.

What we Thought: Our Tasting Panel was divided on this one as well. Some tasters really liked it, while others hated it. "I"m gonna drink it, but I don't care for it" was one comment, while another said that it "tastes better the more I drink of it." Don't they all! While some tasters dumped this one out, others said it was one of their favorites in the lineup. This is a great example of how different all of our taste buds are. value your own opinion and never let wine experts tell you what you should be drinking!

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September 7th Blind Tasting Results

Another high-energy tasting with home high scores and some low ones. I only got one right, but I got it exactly right! That should count at least double, right?

The Wine: Romanin Macon Villages CHardonnay, Burgundy, France, 2013

What we Tasted: Grapefruit, Green apple, Toasted Marshmallow, "Rotten Pineapple", Asparagus, Almond, "Sulfury-Honeysuckle", Pear, Granite, "Funky-Fungal", Tart Lemon.

What we Guessed: Italian Pinot Grigio, South African Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Loire Valley Chenin Blanc.

What we Thought: I was surprised by the earthiness of this wine. The Burgundian minerality was apparent in retrospect, but when I was tasting it I was thinking Spanish Grenache Blanc. Not an incredibly popular wine with our tasters, but some did like it. Everyone agreed that it might perform better with some food, but it really wasn't a porch sipper.

The Wine: Valckenburg Gewurztraminer, Pfalz, Germany, 2014

What we Tasted: Floral, Spicy, Sandy, Eucalyptus, Lychee, "Dial Soap", Perfume, Gardenia, "Musky Melon-y Honey".

What we Guessed: French Viognier, German Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, German Riesling.

What we Thought: This one was more popular with our tasting crowd, although some said it was "too sweet". Most thought this aromatic wine would be "good with fruit and cheese" although another suggested it "would have to be paired with food". I personally enjoyed the perfumey nose on this wine and thought it would be great with Asian cuisine.

The Wine: Rickshaw Pinot Noir, California, 2014

What we Tasted: Cherry, Smoke, "Toasted Oak", Coffee, Blackberry, Mushrooms, Black Pepper, Tobacco, Cigar-Box, Wet Leaves, "Birch Bark", and "Figgy".

What we Guessed: California Pinot Noir, Piedmont Barbera, Syrah, Zinfandel, French Pinot Noir, and Oregon Pinot Noir.

What we Thought: This wine was very much enjoyed by our tasting panel! "It's easy to drink" said one taster, "We like it" said another group. One taster suggested it would be enjoyable "with or without food". In a time when it is getting challenging to find a good Pinot Noir under $20, we all agreed that this was an enjoyable Pinot Noir for $14.99.

The Wine: Shooting Star Zinfandel, mendocino County, California, 2012

What we Tasted: Minty, "Toothpaste", Eucalyptus, Hay, "Vicks VapoRub", Black Olives, "Strawberry Jelly", Violet, Clay, "Pine-Oil", and "Wet Cardboard".

What we Guessed: California Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Australian Shiraz, Red Meritage, nebbiolo.

What we Thought: This one was a little more controversial. Some of our tasters enjoyed the fruity, minty flavor, while others complained about the aftertaste. One taster complained that the wine "finished like peanut Butter", another said that it was "not a sipping wine" and suggested that it would need food to go along with it. One taster said she enjoyed it, but that it would have to be the "third bottle" consumed in a night. Like it or not, everyone agreed that it had a very "distinctive aroma", with an enjoyable minty smell to go along with the fruit. 

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BTL on AVL Food Fans Podcast

BTL on AVL Food Fans Podcast

That's right blind tasters, your Asheville Blind Tasting League was mentioned on AVL Food Fans Podcast with food critic Stu Helm and Chef Joe Scully!

You see, the Blind Tasting League will be at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival again this year, and AWFF director Kris Kraft was telling Stu and Joe all about the fun things that will be happening.

Our shout out happens around the 36 minute mark for those of you that like to fast forward, but the whole episode is worth a listen if you love local food and wine like I do.

If you are planning on attending the Festival's Grand tasting on August 20th, we will begin blind tasting at 2:30 in the upper mezzanine. just follow the signs.

If you can't make it to the Festival, our next Blind Tasting League will be September 7th at 6:00pm.

Until next time, happy blind tasting!

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August 3rd Blind Tasting Results

This weeks Blind tasting League could have been themed grapes you know from places that you don't expect to see them. Very interesting stuff, but not a high scoring game! One person said they had "never had so much fun being so wrong". I felt the same way. This was definitely a challenge for our senses!

The Wine: Ca Mara Chardonnay, Lombardy, Italy, 2014

What we Tasted: Lemon, peach, Apricot, Grapefruit, White Flowers, Grassy/herbal, "Juicy Fruit Gum", Chalky, Crisp Slate, "Honeysuckle Juice", "Sour Patch Kids", Lemongrass & Jasmine.

What we Guessed: German Riesling, Italian Pinot Grigio, Viognier, California Sauvignon Blanc and New World Chenin Blanc.

What we Thought: This one was a hit with our tasters, although no one guessed Chardonnay. "This would be a good porch wine" said one and another mentioned that it "would be good with Chinese food". Everyone agreed it was a good wine for the hot summer months, although no one thought it tasted like Chardonnay. For some of our tasters, that was a good thing.

The Wine: Las Bas Gewurztraminer, Somontano, Spain, 2014

What we Tasted: Orange Blossom, Tropical Fruit, Honey, "Bellini", Honeydew Melon, "under my Peach Tree", Jalapeno, "Straight up Peach Juice"

What we Guessed: California Chardonnay, Southern-French Viognier, Pinot Grigio, California Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc.

What we Thought: I think everyone enjoyed this classically German grape grown in Spain. The nose was very aromatic and we all enjoyed describing the flavors we experienced. "I could drink this on the porch" one taster said, "I like it" said another. One said "it needs food", but I thought it would work well alone or with food, especially spicy Asian cuisine.

The Wine: Biltmore Cabernet Franc Reserve, Asheville, North Carolina, 2014

What we Tasted: Black Cherry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Plum, Prunes, Vanilla, "Smoked Meat", Tobacco, "Cherry Nibs", "Cocoa Powder" and spice.

What we Guessed: New World merlot, "Fruity Rioja", Cabernet, Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir.

What we Thought: This one was a big hit with our tasting crew, most of which claimed they didn't like Biltmore wines! Everyone was shocked when this wine was unveiled, you would have thought that they had just given high marks to Thunderbird! We disagreed about what it was and where it was from, but it was hard to deny that we were drinking a high quality wine.

The Wine: Skyfall Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington State, 2014

What we Tasted: Bright Cherry, Plum, "Jammy", "Dried Flowers", Plastic, "Burnt Toast", "Varnish", "potting Soil", Licorice, Vinegar, "Artificial Sweetener".

What we Guessed: Southern Rhone Blend, "Not so good Rioja", California Cab, Aussie Shiraz, Zinfandel, Cheapo Argentine Malbec

What we Thought: This wine was controversial, people liked this one or they didn't, but they felt strongly about it either way! While some enjoyed the rich, plummy flavor, others complained about artificial-tasting flavors. It's all there in our tasting notes. I have to admit, it wasn't my favorite either.

 

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July 6th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Pierre Sparr Riesling, Alsace, France, 2013

What we Tasted: Green Apple, Pineapple, Minerals, Diesel Fuel, Lemon, Wet Stones, "New Tennis Shoe", Grassy/Herbal, "Deflated Pool Toy"

What we Guessed: Italian Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc, South American Sauvignon Blanc, Alsatian Riesling

What we Thought: After our tasters finished making sour faces from the high levels of acidity in this wine, most agreed that it was a pretty enjoyable wine. I had a lot of comments about drinking it outside. "Good for hanging out on the deck" said one taster, "A good porch wine" said another and another said it was "easy drinking". A few tasters mentioned that the finish was rather short and didn't "stick around". Everyone was surprised by how dry this wine was!

The Wine: Triennes "Sainte Fleur" Viognier, Provence, France, 2014

What we Tasted: Passion Fruit, Pear, Honey, Peach, "Model Airplane Glue", Gum, "White Gummy Bear", Chalky, "Orange Blossom", Creamy, Smoke, "Lapsang Souchong Tea" and Hay.

What we Guessed: American Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Vinho Verde, French Chardonnay, French Viognier

What we Thought: This one really woke up our taste buds! The flavors in this wine were very different and interesting, prompting one taster to comment that it was "Complex" and another to say that it was "Weird". Although it was a hard one to guess correctly, most of us really enjoyed drinking it.

The Wine:  Altaroses Granatxa, Montsant, Spain, 2014

What we tasted: "Light Ripe Cherry", Plum, Currant, raspberry, "Black Cherry Jell-o", Black pepper, Blackberry, Green Pepper.

What we Guessed: Sangiovese Blend, Merlot, Barbera, "Low-cost Nebbiolo", Northern Italian Cabernet Franc, New World Grenache.

What we Thought: Our tasting panel was divided on this on this wine. We mostly either loved it or hated it. Comments on this one ranged from "I wouldn't pay more than $12 for this" to "very Nice". Most of us really enjoyed it and thought it would be a very versatile food pairing wine. This wine was passed around a lot and had it's photo taken many, many times.

The Wine: House of Independent Producers Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington State, 2012

What we Tasted: Pepper, "Dirty-fruit", Cranberry, Strawberry, Currants, Baked flavors, "Merlot-ish".

What we Guessed: California Zinfandel, Merlot, Spanish Tempranillo, and "something Spanish".

What we Thought: This one got a less extreme reaction from our panel than the last one. While most everyone thought it was enjoyable, fewer tasters said that they loved it or hated it. Most everyone just thought it was good. "I like it ok" said one taster, "It would be good with food"" said another. One admitted Merlot-hater was shocked to realize that he had enjoyed this wine! That's why Blind Tasting is so much fun. It's all about the wine. No prejudices or preconceived opinions about grape varietals, wine regions or producers.

 

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June 1st Blind Tasting Results

 

The Wine: Bocelli Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy, 2014

What we Tasted: Stone Fruit, "Unripe Pear", "Fruity Dishwater", Mineral, "WD-40", "Jet Fuel", Citrus, Grapefruit, Honeysuckle, "Cinderblock", & Apple

What we Guessed: French Chenin Blanc, North Eastern Italian Pinot Grigio

What we Thought: We mostly liked this one although a few of our tasters thought it was more mediocre. "meh" said one taster, "Not my style" said another and another taster just shrugged. Most of us enjoyed the mild flavor although one taster said it would "depend on what I had to eat with it".

 

The Wine: Le Grand St-Vincent Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, France, 2015

What we Tasted: "Cat-Pee", varnish, gardenia, lemon/lime, Grapefruit, Floral, Pineapple, Gravel, Thyme, flint, & Asparagus

What we Guessed:  Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc (We nailed it!)

What we Thought: This one started off bad and then grew on our tasting panel. The very first comments were about it smelling like cat pee, but after that our tasters reported more mineral and herbal flavors. Comments included "I Like it now, I didn't at first", "Better than the first" and "I'll bet it would be good with trout" although one taster reported that he "couldn't get out of the litterbox". To me it was a great alternative to pricey Sancerre!

 

The Wine: Saint Evasio Barbera, Piedmont, Italy, 2014

What we Tasted: Cherry, barnyard, Earthy, Raspberry, Vanilla, Smoked Meats, "Wet Granite", "Chicken coop", Rosemary & "Wet Earth"

What we Guessed: French Syrah, Languedoc Pinot Noir, Rhone Blend, Italian Barbera and Tuscan Sangiovese

What we Thought: this one was pretty popular with our team. Most everyone enjoyed the flavor, especially for a wine that retails around $11! There were a few tasters who said it "Needs food" and another  who even said it "Needs meat". Definitely a food wine, but a pretty good Pinot Noir alternative for the price.

 

The Wine: Cune Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain, 2012

What we tasted: Wood, Tobacco, Flowers, Black Cherry, Vanilla, Black Currant, Blueberry, Plum, & "good dirt"

What we Guessed: Spanish tempranillo (Seriously, everybody got this one right! The only thing we couldn't agree on was whether it was from Rioja or Ribero del Duero)

What we Thought: This one was a popular one with our crew. "very mild" said one taster, "Love this one" said another, yet another taster said it had "No bite" and was "smooth". One taster declared that she wanted "a bathroom spray" that smelled like this wine. Pretty high praise, I guess?

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May 4th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Ponga Sauvignon Blanc, marlborough, New Zealand, 2015

What we Tasted: Grapefruit, Pineapple, Pear, Cat-Pee, Hyacinth, Herbal, Stone, Citrusy, Soury-Appley, and Honeysuckle

What we Guessed: We all guessed that it was Sauvignon Blanc, although we couldn't agree where it was from. We guessed that it was from South Africa, New Zealand and the United States.

What we Thought: Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand can be a little divisive and our tasting panel loved it or hated it. There were lots of comments like "This is more your style, not mine" although others said "This is definitely my style!". Overall, a good, classic New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc for $10.99!

The WIne: 10 Span Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, California, 2013

What we Tasted: Stony, "very floral" Hibiscus, Honeysuckle, Subtle Spice, Cedar Plank, "Hamster Cage", Butter, Alcohol and "Burnt Sugar".

What we Guessed: California Chardonnay, French Chenin Blanc, Riesling, California Gewurz, Pinot Grigio

What we Thought: Our tasting panel was divided about whether they liked it better or worse than the last one. Some liked it "more than #1" and some said "not as much as #1". One taster mentioned it would make a "good cocktail wine" and one mentioned it would be "good with waffles". After that we staged a quick intervention.

The Wine: Les freres Perroud "Amethyste", Brouilly, Beaujolais, 2011

What we tasted: Dark Cherries, Pepper, Raspberry, "All the Berries", tar, Jammy, and "Fruit Snacks"

What we Guessed: This was the biggest, boldest Beaujolais I have ever tried! Most of us thought it was a new world wine. We guessed Zinfandel, Argentine malbec, Pinot Noir and Petite Syrah.

What we Thought: Our panel was divided. "I don't like it" one taster said, "might be ok with Spaghetti" quipped another. I was personally blown away by this one! It was definitely my favorite of the night and one of the best Beaujolais' I have ever had! Maybe It's a wine-geek wine and not so much of a crowd pleaser.

The Wine: "The Velvet Devil" Merlot, Washington State, 2014

What we tasted: Marachino Cherries, Black-Fruit, "Barnyard", Leather, "Grape Flintstone Vitamins", "A whiff of Ben-gay", vanilla and "Blueberry flavored Sharpie-marker"

What we Guessed: Shiraz, malbec, Cabernet/Merlot Blend, tempranillo, and "something cheap"

What we Thought: The fun thing about wine is that everyone has different tastes. What tastes good to me might not taste good to you. Like the other wines we tasted, we had lovers of this wine and haters. "I like it" said one taster, "Rich and good" said another and another declared it the "best in the show". Others liked it less. One taster guessed that it was "Franzia", another asked if "it had been left in the trunk of a car", another called it "varietally indistinct" and accused it of being "manipulated". I guess one person's Petrus is someone else's Franzia.

 

 

 

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April 6th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2014

What we Tasted: Pear, Apricot, Honeydew, Red Apple, Honey, White Flowers

What we Guessed: S. American Torrontes, American Pinot Gris, European Chenin Blanc, & S. African Chenin Blanc

What we Thought: Our panel enjoyed it, but wasn’t in love with it. “I think it’s pretty clean” said one taster, another said it wasn’t “too sharp” meaning it wasn’t too acidic. I think this summed up our opinions, “It’s likeable enough. Like Obama said about Hillary.” Wow. Just wow!

The Wine: Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay, Chile, 2015

What we Tasted: Flowery minerality, “Marshmallow Fluff”, Guava, Burnt-Sugar, a Little Oak, Honeydew Melon & Honey

What we Guessed: French Viognier, Chardonnay Blend, & California Chardonnay

What we Thought: Our panel was strongly divided on this one, they loved it or hated it. Some of the comments were “Nice Nose”, “More pleasant than the last” and one commented that it would be “great for a garden party”. A few others dissented. “I’m not big on it” one said, another didn’t “like the finish”, and one simply said “Meh”.

The Wine: Araucano Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 2013

What we Tasted: Black Cherry, Vanilla, Red Berry, “Cherry Cough Syrup”, “Fruity Deal”, Pepper & Bacon

What we Guessed: California Zinfandel & Australian Shiraz

What we Thought: This one was a big hit with our group, many thought it was the best in the lineup. The big fruit prompted one to comment that it was “Definitely American”. No one successfully guessed that it was Carmenere (but that’s a really tough one), although everyone enjoyed tasting it!

The Wine: Grayson Cellars Zinfandel, California, 2014

What we Tasted: Strawberry, “Wet Tree Bark”, “Garden Shed”, Orange Peel, Dried Fruit, Dried Cranberries, “Cinnamon Red Hots” and “Blackberry Cotton Candy”

What we Guessed: German Pinot Noir, Gamay Beaujolais, Grenache, Cotes du Rhone blend

What we Thought: This one also was controversial with our panel. Some of the comments were “I’m not big on it” and “Not very good”, although there were also those who said “I like it”, called it “Aromatic” and it was the best in show for two of our tasters! Most everyone thought it was pretty good for a wine under $12.

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March 2nd Blind Tasting Results

 

The Wine: Bodega Gratia Sauvignon Blanc, Valle De Uco,  Argentina, 2013

What we tasted: Apple, Honeysuckle, Unripe Pear, Wet Slate, Citrus and Granite

What we Guessed: South American Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, Northern Italian Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Riesling

What we Thought: This was a popular wine with our tasting panel. Most everyone agreed that it was a very enjoyable wine and would probably pair very well with seafood.

The Wine: Novellum Chardonnay, Pays D'Oc, France, 2014

What we tasted: "Juicy Fruit Gum", Vanilla, peachy, over-ripe melon, Dial Soap, Allspice, White Pepper and "Fake Flowers"

What we Guessed: Alsatian Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay/Semillon Blend

What we Thought: Another popular wine! The nose on it was incredible! Apparently, the wine was aged on Viognier Lees, giving it a very complex, spicy flavor which I loved, but only one of us guessed it was Chardonnay.

The Wine: Calcu Cabernet Franc, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 2012

What we Tasted: Black Cherry, "Chocolate covered strawberries", Vanilla, Raspberry, Spice, Nutmeg, and Herbaceous

What we Guessed: French Syrah, Italian Nebbiolo, Grenache/Syrah, S. American Cabernet Sauvignon

What we Thought: Again, our panel really enjoyed this one. I, personally, enjoyed the tannic bite, while others enjoyed the "velvety" flavor of the wine. Definitely one of the biggest Cabernet Francs I have ever tried and a fantastic value!

The Wine: Punto Final Malbec, Argentina, 2014

What we Tasted: Diesel Fuel, Cinnamon & Spice, Clove, "Blackberry Pie", Iodine, Cement, Ammonia and Pepper

What We Guessed: Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Sangiovese and "Cheap-Merlot"

What we Thought: Not a popular one with our tasting panel. "Unbalanced", "Finishes like Hairspray" and "Good if it was $4". One taster noted that it smelled like "Blackberry Pie", but after tasting it changed it to "Canned Blackberry Pie Filling". We also had a hard time guessing what we were drinking, we thought it was a little "Varietally Indestinct".

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February 3rd Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Loosen Bros "Dr L." Riesling, Mosel, Germany, 2014

What we Tasted: Citrus, Green Apple, Pineapple, Floral, "Fruity-Sulfury Dishwater", Green-tea, Stone, Spiced Apple & Peachy

What we Guessed: Viognier, California Riesling, Washington State Riesling

What we Thought: This wine got mixed reviews from our group. Some liked it (myself), some thought it was ok and some disliked it. Comments were "I'd have a glass", "Not bad" and one "Not my style". Overall not bad for an off-dry wine.

The Wine: Reserve des Vignerons Chenin Blanc, Saumur, France, 2014

What we Tasted: Rose, Herbs, musk, "Hard as a rock pear, in a good way", Fruity-finish, "Chalky-Stony" and "Dial Soap".

What we Guessed: French Chenin Blanc, French Viognier, New World Sauvignon Blanc

What we Thought: This acidic wine pleased our tasters! Comments were "I could drink more than one glass!", "Big nose!" and "Great food wine!". Overall, a good showing for an $11.49 bottle of wine!

The Wine: Espelt Garnacha, Emporda, Spain, 2012

What we tasted: Blackberry, black cherry, cranberry, anise, spice & "Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice".

What we Guessed: Hot climate Syrah, New World Grenache, California Cabernet/Merlot Blend

What we Thought: Mixed reviews on this one also. " I like it" said one taster who later said it was her favorite of the evening. "Too hot" said another, meaning the alcohol was too high. Most everyone thought it was an enjoyable wine.

The Wine: Gen 5 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, california, 2012

What we Tasted: "Forest floor", Mushroom, Herbaceous, Dried fruit, "Plummy-Pruney", Wooly, Raisins, and "Birch-sap"

What we Guessed: Cotes du Rhone Blend, Cabernet Franc, New World Syrah, Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre Blend, California Zin.

What we Thought: A big hit for an affordable Zin! One taster said she could "Smell it all day", another called it "better than most", although one said it was "too Herby". Overall, a good showing!

 

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January 6th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Reserve des Vignerons Chenin Blanc, Saumur, France, 2014

What we tasted: Peach, Pineapple, Lemon Skin, "Circus Peanut Candy", Flowers, Crsuhed Chalk, Ginger

What we Guessed: N. Italian Pinot Grigio, Dry Riesling, French Chenin Blanc

What We Thought: Our crew loved the nose but felt it lost a little something on the palette. Our comments were "meyer lemon", 'Citrus" and "Briny", as well as "Refreshing", "Ought to be effervescent" and "Needs Food".

The Wine: Valle Dorado Chardonnay, Central Valley, Chile, 2014

What we tasted: Stone-Fruit, Honey, "Bit-O-Honey Candy", vanilla, Spice, Honey Suckle, Orange Blossom, "Touch of oak", and "Malo".

What We Guessed: Sauvignon Blanc, S. American Fume Blanc, Australian Pinot Grigio, South American Chardonnay

What we Thought: Overall this one was a hit, especially for such a low price point wine! Our team said "Pleasant", "Balanced", "Creamy Mouthfeel" that it had a "Longer Finish" and that there was "More to it". One member said he wanted to "drink it with Oysters". Overall a very good showing!

The Wine: Cousino-Macul Cabernet Sauvignon, Central valley, Chile, 2013

What we tasted: "Bark", Green pepper, Cherry Pie, Blueberry, Brambles, "Tart, Ripe and Jammy Fruit", Cranberry, Bitter Chocolate, Coffee, Spice, "Dirty Feet" and Oak.

What We Guessed: Sicilian Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Syrah

What we Thought: "I like it" said one taster, and most of us agreed. It had a rustic flavor that most of us enjoyed, one member said it tasted like "it had been aged in an attic" while I described it as "Gamey". Overall a good wine for the money!

The Wine: Stone Cap Syrah, Colombia Valley, Washington State, 2012

What we Tasted: red Fruit, Raspberry, Leather, Cedar, "Raspberry Laffy-Taffy", Pencil lead, Cassis, "bamboo Rocks", and fruity.

What we Guessed: Loire Vally Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, "Cheap Merlot"

What we Thought: While most agreed it was mostly unoffensive, we all agreed it was "too Fruity" and one said it tasted like "Now & Later Candy", was "Verietally Indistinct" and had little flavor or nose .  When it was revealed to be Syrah, most everyone thought that it didn't taste like what we expected Syrah to taste like. Most agreed it was a pretty passable "party wine".

 

 

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December 2nd Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Rickshaw Chardonnay, California, 2014

What we tasted: Green Apple, Pear, Citrus, lemongrass, Stone, Starfruit, Slate

What we Guessed: Dry Riesling, White Burgundy, California Chardonnay

What we thought: This wine was a big hit with our panel, even Chardonnay-haters! Most everyone enjoyed it, although no one picked up on any oak.

The wine: Barone Fini Pinot Grigio, valdadige, Italy, 2014

What we tasted: Bug spray, Mineral, "Closet freshener", apple, Pink grapefruit, Cantaloupe Rind, Perfume, Honey

What we Guessed: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Washington State Sauvignon Blanc

What we thought: It was actually a more popular wine than you might expect with "bug spray" and "closet freshener" as descriptors. Most everyone thought it was Sauvignon Blanc. Very aromatic! I never guess Pinot Grigio when it has so much flavor. I guess I  have Pinot Grigio predjudice...

The Wine: Treviso "Rubicone" Sangiovese, Emilia-Romagnia, Italy, NV

What we Tasted: Oak, Flowers, Honey, Smoke, Tobacco, "NyQuil", Alcohol, latex balloon

What we thought: "I love it", one of our tasters said! Most agreed that it was a solid everyday, table wine, although lacking in varietal characteristics and Terroir. I thought it tasted like a generic red.

What we Guessed: Shiraz/Syrah, Zinfandel, "Cheap merlot", Sangiovese

The Wine: Woop Woop Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, 2014

What we Tasted: "jammy fruit and dirt", smoke, "Toejam", bacon, Tobacco, Sourdough, barnyard, Black Cherry, Beef jerky, Pickles

What we Thought: Not a popular one. Quite a few on our panel did not drink their glass (a really bad sign with this band of Pirates!).  "Aftertaste is not good", "Needs food" and "Don't like it, not drinking it" were the comments I scribbled down.

What we Guessed: South African Shiraz, Zinfandel, Cabernet

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November 4th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Le Grand St-Vincent Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, France 2014

What we Tasted: Pink Grapefruit, Peach, Minerals, Stone Fruit, Flint, "Bamboo-Stones", Pear Apricot, Celery

What we Thought: A crowd pleaser! Our panel thought it would work well as a porch sipper on its own or with a meal.

What we Guessed: Chenin Blanc, Muscadet, Viognier, Pinot Grigio, and Loire valley Sauvignon Blanc

The Wine: Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2014

What we Tasted: Green Apple, Tropical stone-fruit, Citrus, Unripe Mango, Papaya

What we Thought: Our panel didn't get much from the nose, one comapring it to "water" and one saying it "burned" like Vodka. We liked it more once we tasted it. Most everyone agreedthat it was a "pleasant social wine" and "Nice".

What we Guessed: Unoaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc

The Wine: Mark West Pinot Noir, California, 2013

What we tasted: earth, Smoke, barnyard floor, Cherries, raspberries, dark chocolate, "firework gunpowder"

What we Thought: Overall a hit with our panel. "Balanced" and "easy drinking", summed it up, with one panelist saying it would "jump out with the right food".

What we Guessed: Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir

The wine: Haarth Malbec, Argentina, 2013

What we Tasted: Plums, "rubber glove", Alcohol, Black cherries, Goji Berry, "blackberry schnaps", coffee, spice, cedar, Tobacco

What we thought: Another hit this week! Our panel enjoyed the big, tannic flavor and dark fruit.

What we Guessed: Malbec, Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet

 

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October 7th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Riff Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy 2014

What we tasted: Citrus, pear, apple, floral, department store perfume, Spice, mineral, sour lemon drop, bell pepper and a "touch of remorse"

What we thought: Overall a pretty popular wine! Very floral and interesting for an $11 bottle of wine.

What we Guessed: Old-World Viognier, Something Northern-Italian, Sauvignon Blanc

The Wine: La Perla Viura, Rioja, Spain, 2014

What we Tasted: Tropical/pineapple, Play-Doh, Chalk, "Circus Peanut Marshmallow Candies", Old apples, and Dishwater

What we Thought: "tastes like a Biltmore Wine" (sorry to our friends at Biltmore), "Great nose but disappointing flavor", "finishes like a mouth full of pennies". Sorry to La Perla, this one wasn't a crowd favorite.

What we Guessed: Cheap Pinot Grigio, Gavi di gavi, Chenin Blanc

The Wine: Grayson Zinfandel, California, 2013

What we Tasted: Smoky, pruny, "old oak", Forest floor, "Funky fruit roll-up", Goji Berry, Chocolate, and Raisins

What we Thought: We were divided on this one. Some liked it, "nice finish", and some didn't "Not pleasant", and "Hangover Wine"

What we guessed: Rioja, Tempranillo, Barolo, Zinfandel, and Malbec

The Wine: Paso a Paso Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain, 2013

What we Tasted: menthol, Spice, Blackberry, Tobacco, Licorice, Earth and Potting Soil

What we Thought: I didn't like it, but many of our crew did, one suggesting it would be a good "Thanksgiving wine". Not bad for a $10.99 wine!

What we guessed: Corvina, Barbera, merlot, and "Cheap Valpolicella"

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September 2nd Wine Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Valle Dorado Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, Chile, 2014

What we Tasted: Lemongrass, Citrus, Burnt-Match, floral, Bamboo-Pebbles, Chalky, baby-Diapers

What we thought: Finishes like licking a battery. Nondescript flavor. More smell than taste. Not a crowd favorite!

What we guessed: Vinho Verde, Watery Pinot Grigio, Mineral Water

The Wine: 10 Span Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, California, 2013

What we tasted: Fruity, Cork, Woody, American Oak, Lemon Peel, Peach, Peanut Butter, Pear

What we thought: Better Chardonnay than most. Good Quality. Too much oak. most liked this wine!

What we Guessed: Southern California Chardonnay, Oregon/Washington State Chardonnay

The Wine: "Good" merlot, Veneto, Italy, 2012

What we Tasted: Pomegranate, blackberries, a little oak, Some earth, black cherry, dates/raisins, Bowl of berries

What we thought: Not a bad table wine

What we Guessed: Piedmont Barbera, Corvina or low quality Valpolicella, "Limp  Merlot". At least we got that it was Italian!

The Wine: Finca La Linda Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina, 2012

What we Tasted: Some flora on nose, Goji-berry, natural fruit roll-up, clay, cherry, some oak, Cranberry, Leather, Raisins

What we thought: Great wine! Very balanced.

What we Guessed: Tempranillo, Rioja, Malbec, Zinfandel

 

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Blind Tasting at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival

Well the Asheville Wine & Food festival has come and gone again, and as always it was wonderful to attend! The Blind Tasting League was there with both Andy and Anita showing sold out crowds how blind tasting is done for both wine and beer! I was thrilled to be asked back to demonstrate the basics of deductive blind tasting not once, but twice to two seperate groups of people! Our resident beer expert Anita Riley showed a sold out crowd that blind tasting isn't just for wine, it can be done with Beer as well.

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend and especially to Sommelier Eric Crane who educated and entertained the crowd with me! 

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Blind tasting at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival

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Blind tasting at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival

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Catching our breath!

Hey blind tasters,

We are recovering from a crazy weekend at the Asheville Wine and Food Festival! Our class was supposed to be for the first 40 people, but we made room for a few extras and ended up with a full house of 43 people! Advanced Sommelier Eric Crane came up from Atlanta and shared his knowledge with all of us, I learned quite a bit myself! This is a guy who is studying for his Master Somm exam, the hardest test in the world. Wines were tasted and I got 3 out of 4, a personal best. In short, it was a good day!
We are taking this week to recover from the weekend, but we will be back at our regularly scheduled time and place next wednesday, September the 3rd. Join us for some blind tasting action!
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