Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Feb. 28, 2015           Blind Pinot Noir Tasting

One of our Wine Club members–and now a good friend–toured Oregon’s Willamette Valley last fall. He visited a lot of vineyards, and brought back a treasure trove of Pinot Noirs. Excited about his discoveries, and wanting to share them with friends, he asked if he could use our Dining Room space for a blind tasting.

Mat & I are big fans of blind tasting, so we were thrilled to co-host and participate. We feel that blind tasting is the very best way to taste wine without any preconceived expectations, and this night was no exception.


The two organizers chose to taste 12 wines in three flights. Within each flight was one surprise selection that was not from Oregon. All the wines in the first two flights (a total of eight) were from 2012. The third flight was a combination of older vintages. Each bottle was bagged and numbered, and they were poured in front of us at the table with nothing visible other than the top ridge of the bottle. We ten lucky participants went through each flight individually, taking notes in silence, accompanied only by the noises of pouring, swirling, sipping, and spitting. At the end of each flight, we discussed each of the wines, voted and ranked them, and then unveiled them from the paper bags.

After we tasted through the three flights and tallied the scores, we enjoyed a potluck dinner with the now-exposed wines, giving everyone a chance to go back and re-taste the Pinots alone and with food. The experience generated lively discussion throughout the evening. Everyone enjoyed the focused tasting and appreciated learning what wines they liked without knowing what they were, uninfluenced by name, vintage, region…

The fact is that all the Pinot Noirs in the lineup were good, high-quality, well-made wines. We had to make tough choices during the blind tasting, but once food was introduced into the equation, each wine was great in its own right. Some of the wines did better with the food, providing another lesson on pairing food and wine. There were no losers among the 12 selections, and the true winners were the participants around the table that evening. It was such a fun, lively, and educational event – blind tasting might become regular happening at Paul Mathew.

 Below I’ve listed the evening’s wines, separated in flights, and indicated the winner of each flight. By a unanimous vote, before the wines were unveiled, one wine was voted the top wine of the night. It was thrilling to see the bag come off the wine that was awarded the highest rating, and amazing that every single participant selected this wine, without knowing what it was, as the best of the dozen we tasted  blind.

First flight: All 2012 vintage
1.      Patricia Green, clone 115
2.      Paul Mathew, Bohemia Vineyard
3.      Ken Wright, Shea Vineyard
4.      Bergstrom, Shea Vineyard

 Patricia Green placed #1 for the group although all four women at the table gave their highest rating to Paul Mathew, which placed #2.

Second flight: 
5.      Gevry Chambertin, Cuvee Bertin  2009
6.      Archery Summit  2012
7.      White Rose Luciole Vineyard  2012
8.   Bergstrom, Le Pre Du Col Vineyard  2012

The Burgundy placed #1 in the group with Archery Summit coming in second.

Third flight: Mixed vintages
9.      Paul Mathew 2009 Ruxton Vineyard
10.  Lenne 2008
11.  Le Cadeau reserve 2011
12.  Domiane Drouhin Laurene 2011

2009 Paul Mathew Ruxton Vineyard was unanimously voted as the #1 wine of this flight and of the evening as whole. Second place was Domaine Drouhin.

As you can imagine, it was extremely gratifying that our wine came in first place. I didn’t even know it was in the lineup, as Mat had helped pull together the surprise selections from outside the Willamette Valley. Not only did it feel great to see our Pinot get the highest rating – unanimously – at this blind tasting; it also once again validates Mat’s exceptional winemaking skills.

 I encourage you to try a blind tasting of your own. If you need any help with the guidelines, or if you would like a simple way to keep score, please be in touch.