Last night, we were invited to our friends' house for an evening of wine tasting and tapas - and it was a great time!
Each couple was responsible for bringing a bottle of wine. We were given the tapas dish in advance and were asked to bring something that would go with the food.
When we arrived, we secretly put our bottle in a paper bag and labelled the bag with the number that corresponded to the tapas course.
For each wine, there was a score sheet ( à la WSET 2) and a page that gave descriptors for the different characteristics of wine. Our host, Keith, popped open the wine, shared it around, and then we spied, sniffed, swirled, sipped and slurped the wine. After a few minutes, our other host, Lynn, brought on the tapas that went with the wine which we proceeded to nibble on while sipping the wine yet again.
Finally, after all of this drinking and eating, we would make our guesses and then Keith would reveal the bottle.
I absolutely loved it!
The first wine received an interesting reaction from the table. One of the guests said, right off, that she didn't like it. Another said that he couldn't smell anything. I was able to smell citrus fruits like grapefruit as well as some green apple. This continued on the palate where I also tasted what I thought was a little yeast and high acidity. It was also quite mineral-y - and had almost a stone taste to it.
It was paired with Deviled Eggs with Shrimp. The pairing was great - it really meshed very well with the wine. Both the egg and shrimp came alive with the minerality of the wine.
I decided that because it was a great food pairing that this was an Old World wine. The minerality and lack of real fruitiness on the nose led me to Chardonnay. I guessed that is was either a Chablis or a Burgundy Chardonnay.
It was, in fact, a French Premier Cru Chardonnay from Burgundy - a 2014 Mont-Palais Rully Premier Cru ($50 - not sure where to buy in BC). I haven't drunk a lot of Premier Cru wines so far so it is a special honour to be able to drink one. On its own, it was a good wine, but with the food, it was amazing!
Next was a red wine. I recused myself from this one because my friend had phoned me a few days before and asked for a recommendation - so I knew what it was! Even so, I think that I would have been able to get this one. It had a lighter ruby colour with just a hint of garnet around the edge. The taste was definitely black fruits and there was medium structure and acidity. This was unmistakable as a Pinot Noir.
The tapa for this wine was a mushroom crostini with roasted red pepper and gruyere cheese. The wine paired very nicely with the food.
I had given my friend two possibilities - an Old World Pinot from France and a New World from the Okanagan. Since the wine tasted so darned good on its own, I, naturally, assumed it was the New World Pinot.
Wrong! It was a French Jean-Claude Boisset Les Ursulines 2016 Burgundy (Bourgogne) Pinot Noir ($26). I found it to be a very nice Pinot and would pair with a very nice range of dishes - the perfect wine when everyone orders something different!
The third wine was tricky. It was a fairly pale lemon white wine with a somewhat fruity nose and smelled of apple, honey, and stone fruit. The tapa that we had with it was an amazing Mu She chicken wrapped in lettuce. The fruitiness of the wine paired well with the spices in the chicken.
My wife and I have had a couple of bottles of Gewürztraminer lately and I didn't think the nose was floral enough. That still left others like Pinot Gris or Viognier - so that's what I guessed - Pinot Gris.
Nope! It was a 2016 Gray Monk Gewürztraminer ($16) from the Okanagan. I was fooled by the less floral nose! Fooled or not, it was a good wine to have with the food.
Fourth was the wine that we had brought. It was well received as it was a bit bold, had some nice red and black fruit, had soft tannins and medium acid, and paired well with the tapa which was potato skins with chorizo and queso (cheese). The food was unbelievably delicious (well, it all was, actually) and I was tempted to find a yogurt container so I could steal all the left overs. The wine really stood up well to the chorizo but didn't overpower the subtler flavours in the skins or the cheese. A great pairing!
One of my friends got it (or came close enough, in my mind). He guessed Tempranillo - and it was, in fact, a 2013 Beronia Rioja Reserva (aged at least 3 years) from Spain. For $26 I think this was an excellent wine and will definitely buy it again. Kudos to 'my guy' at the Pitt Meadows Specialty BC Liquor Store who helped me with this selection. This wine actually has Tempranillo and two Spanish grapes that I don't know a lot about, Mazuelo and Graciano.
Finally, we had a fortified wine to finish off. It was definitely a Port but it's pretty hard for me to tell the difference between Ports - other than they taste wonderful! This Port was quite sweet, had notes of nuts, caramel and honey, and was paired with an incredible chocolate mousse. The Port was sweet enough to stand up nicely to the dessert. I decided that it wasn't a vintage Port (as it was poured straight from the bottle - vintage Ports need to be decanted), tasted sweeter than I thought a Tawny Port would taste and tasted smoother than a ruby Port so I thought it was a Late Bottle Vintage (LBV) Port.
Close, but no cigar - it was a Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port from Portugal ($40). Still, not a bad guess....
A great end to a fantastic tasting evening. Viva tapas!