It should always be this way… Always.

So…

Kara and I were browsing wines at BevMo in Gilroy on Saturday, when Dave TheVegetarian sent me a text inviting me to a Blind Wine Tasting at The Wine Club in San Jose

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Cattivera is Italian for “Vegetarian”.

The Wine Club is a sweet wine shop real close to the San Jose International Airport on Coleman Ave…

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The Wine Club is technically in Santa Clara, but only by a matter of inches.

It’s been about 2 years since the last time I’ve been there (Kara and I moved out of San Jose in 2009), but getting to do a blind wine tasting of 10 wines for 10 bucks with some good friends was the perfect excuse to head on up to The City.

That’s right…

I just called San Jose “The City”.

The moment we walked into the store, we were warmly greeted by a few of the employees.  After paying for our tasting, and getting our glasses at the front register, we headed over to the corner of the store to check out the lineup…

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10 Blind Wines (Note: The wines were poured into used bottles, so as not to give away anything. The four whites at the beginning of the row, for example, are in used Pinot Noir bottles.)

We were each also given a sheet to take notes on, with a list of the 10 types of wines that were to be served…

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The Grapes

Armed with our palates and pencils, we were ready to get our taste on…

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Wine One

Color: Light straw yellow.

Nose: Peach and lemon, and a tiny bit of grass.

Taste: This wine is all about lime acidity and minerals

My Guess: The touch of grass lead me to think of Sauvignon Blanc.  This had to be a Sancerre (a Loire wine made from Sauvignon Blanc).

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Wine Two

Color: Straw yellow.

Nose: Peaches and cream.

Taste: Peaches and limes with a very creamy and viscous mouthfeel.

My Guess: Although we were told that the Chardonnay used would be unoaked, the creaminess lead me to believe that they still used malolactic fermentation.  It has to be Chardonnay.

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Wine Three

Color: Light straw yellow.

Nose: All minerals.  Very vibrant.

Taste: This wine is all about acid and rocks.

My Guess: This is Reisling… The way it should be.

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Wine Four

Color: This is the lightest straw color of the whole bunch of whites.

Nose: Peaches (I’m noticing a theme here).

Taste: Lemon custard with a good acidity.

My Guess: I’ve got to be honest with you.  The only white that was left on the list was Torrontes… A wine from Argentina.  I’m certain that I’ve had one in the past, but it was before I paid much attention to my wines.  By process of elimination, I had to go with Torrontes.

Let’s get into the reds…

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Wine Five

Color: This is a very light burgundy red color.  You can see your fingers through it.

Nose: Awesome!  Think smokey dried ham and tobacco.  Just Awesome!

Taste: There is some cherry fruit up front, but this wine is more Earthy, leafy, dirty, and tobacco-like.

My Guess: Before this wine was even poured, Dave and I were joking around that it has to be a Pinot Noir (since they are typically the lightest reds on a flight).  Sure enough… The color and the nose leave me no other choice than to go with the Pinot.

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Wine Six

Color: Really purple.  Like, really.

Nose: Cranberry and blackberry bushes (Note: If you’re not sure what a blackberry bush smells like, please go shove your nose in one).

Taste: Bacon with blueberry and blackberry fruit.  Smokey.  Is that a little black olive on the finish?

My Guess: Because of the smokey components, I originally pegged this one a Syrah… But that black olive got me thinking about Merlot.  After tasting the next wine, I eliminated Syrah and went with Merlot.  This has to be Merlot, right?

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Wine Seven

Color: Really.  Dark.  Burgundy red.

Nose: Toffee and coffee.  This nose reminded both Kara and me of the 2011 Monte Bello in an instant.  Very nice.

Taste: Unlike the 2011 Monte Bello, the toffee and coffee smoke on the nose is also present on the palate.  The smoke on this wine is overwhelming.  There is some good dark fruit underneath the smoke.  I just can’t look past the smoke.  It’s smokey, man.

My Guess: The nose made me think of a Bordeaux Blend, but the smoke on the palate screams Syrah to me.  I’m going Syrah.

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Wine Eight

Color: Dark burgundy red.

Nose: Boysenberry.  Blackberry.  Plum.  Toffee.  Really nice!

Taste: Tobacco up front gives way to blueberry, blackberry, and plum fruits.  The tannins are chalky, but mildly astringent.

My Guess: This wine had a very velvety mouthfeel.  It just tasted expensive.  It had to be either the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Bordeaux Blend.  After tasting the Ninth wine, I decided that this must be the Bordeaux Blend.

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Wine Nine

Color: Dark ruby.

Nose: Plum and blueberries.

Taste: Plum fruit.  Chalky tannins.  Tastes like a Cabernet Sauvignon.

My Guess: This wine is unmistakably Cabernet Sauvignon… Or is it?

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Wine Ten

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Cranberry and raspberry.

Taste: Raspberries, blueberries, and black pepper.  Very ripe.

My Guess: I’ve got to tell you that this totally tastes like a very ripe Zinfandel.  Zinfandel is also the only grape left on the list.  It also didn’t hurt that early on in the tasting, another costomer was overheard saying, “I can’t believe that last wine was a Zin!”

Now that I had my notes…

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My Notes

It was time for the reveal…

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And the wines are…

1. 2010 Mathias & Emil Roblin Sancerre “Origine” – My Guess of Sancerre was Right!

2. 2010 Pircas Negras Torrontes – My Guess of Chardonnay was Wrong : (

3. 2008 Dr. Nagler Reisling Trocken Rheingau – My Guess of Reisling was Right!

4. 2011 Saracina Chardonnay Unoaked, Mendocino County – My Guess of Torrontes was Wrong : (

5. NV JK Carriere Pinot Noir “Provacateur”, Willamette Valley – My Guess of Pinot Noir was Right!

6. 2009 Halcon Alturas Syrah, Yorkville Highlands – My Guess of Merlot was Wrong : (

7. 2009 Chateau Fizeaux Vieilles Vignes, St. Emilion (Bordeaux) – My Guess of Syrah was Wrong : (

8. 2008 Whitehall Lane Merlot, Napa Valley – My Guess of Bordeaux Blend was Wrong : (

9. 2008 Stone Edge “Surround” Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley – My Guess of Cabernet Sauvgion was Right!

10. 2010 Opolo Summit Creek Zinfandel, Paso Robles – My Guess of Zinfandel was Right!

So…

In the end, I went 5 for 10 in the blind tasting.  In case you were wondering, Dave also went 5 for 10.  Our wives did not write down their guesses, but they probably would have crushed us if they did.

What is significant is how awesome the experience was at The Wine Club.

For 10 bucks, we got to taste some great wines in a fun way.  During the event, plenty of the employees there were checking in with us to compare their tasting notes with ours.

The store itself is totally legit too.

After our tasting, we spent quite a bit of time checking out all the buys to be had.  All of the folks working there were very knowledgable about the wines on the floor, and the prices were some of the best I’ve seen in the bay area.

What counts the most to me is that you can tell every person in the store if passionate about wine.

They taste it.  They live it.  They talk it.  They know their stuff, but they’re not snobby about it.

They just love wine.

It should always be this way at a wine store… Always.

Stay Rad, Wine Club.

I’ll be back.

Jeff

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7 Responses to “It should always be this way… Always.”

  1. Marcello Buonarroti Says:

    Wrong! Cattivera ( the Sicilians never spell anything right) really is Cattiveria which means wickedness or just naughtiness.

  2. Marcello Buonarroti Says:

    By the way, would you like me to sub for you on your blog while you sip saki?

    • jeffisrad Says:

      You should totally start your own blog about how to convince people you’re Italian. I’m sure my readers would love to check that out while I’m off fact-finding in Japan.

  3. Lauren Says:

    I’ve always kind of wanted to do a blind tasting, but I’m secretly glad I haven’t been invited to one, since I worry I’d find out I’m less “good” at wine than I think I am. 😉

    • jeffisrad Says:

      All the folks that worked there did the blind tasting earlier. Only one of ’em got 10 of 10. They were all talking about how hard it was.
      The idea is that you learn more about how you taste wine.

  4. Jeff Eckles (@JeffEckles) Says:

    Dude, you take GREAT notes when you taste wine, Jeff! I chose based on your notes/comments and went 10/10.

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