It was difficult to keep up with, and this is a technical term, a shit ton of people at once while trying to actually taste a few different wines myself. But it was an experience, and a great opportunity to meet some wino cats on the interwebz.
I had three bottles of wine that I tasted single blind, which means I knew what the wines were, but didn’t know which one I was drinking at the moment. The wines I tasted were a 2007 Picket Fence Russian River Valley, 2007 Napa Cellars Napa Valley, and a 2006 Consilience Wines Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Barbara County.
Here is my journal from the night:
6:57 P.M. (CST): Got my bottles bagged, my makeshift spitoon ready, and tweetdeck prepped. Let’s drink some G.D. Pinot.
7:17 P.M. (CST): I’ve yet to drink any wine, just talking to everyone and finding out what they’re drinking. Pretty hectic pace, hard to follow, not sure I’m that good at multi-tasking.
7:37 P.M. (CST): Done with this 140 character orgy, going to taste some wine instead.
Deep purple color, smells like fresh pints of ripe cherry and an almost overpowering French oak spice. Tastes just like it smells, juicy fruit and a velvety texture. A lot of vanilla on the finish with a little cocoa and earth. A little too alcoholic.
The smell is a little mushroomy, ripe dark fruits, and a hint of spice. Delicious acidity, lots of tart cranberry and ripe red fruits. Not as many complex flavors as the previous, but I think I like it a little more.
It smells of black cherry and dirt, just a touch of spice coming through. Hard to pick up any definitive smells, though. A lot of cranberry and cherry coming through at first, but it caves in, hallowing out to nothing but a tasty acidity. Sticky tannins, though, interesting.
8:27 P.M. (CST): After tasting all the wines once through, I’m going to go through them all again and note how they have changed after being exposed to this humid Chicago air for an hour or so.
The pungent French spice that kicked my teeth in earlier has demurred into a tasty bouquet. This wine has opened up a ton. The tannins are really coming through now, but the acidity is still chillin’ in the background. I’m getting more earth, and lots of dark fruits on the mouth. Lingering cocoa.
A little bit of a petrol smell is popping out, along with some strawberry I didn’t notice before. Unbelievably juicy, I’m a so digging this wine. The fresh strawberry-cherry blended with mushroom funk is exactly my style.
A little fungus is coming out now behind the earthiness. Although it’s slightly more aromatic now, the taste is pretty much the same tart fruit with nothing to back it up. Getting a little more of the tannins, which is interesting. But even though this has opened up over the last hour, it’s way behind the curve of the other two.
8:55 P.M. (CST): It’s hard to believe two hours have gone by already. Guessed the wines exactly, which isn’t really special since I only had three. The identities of the wines were:
- Consilience Bien Nacido Santa Barbara: B+
- Picket Fence Russian River Valley: B
- Napa Cellars Napa Valley: C
The Consilience was extremely well made, with complex flavors that evolved remarkably. But it was a little hot (16.5% ABV I found out afterwards,) and just as a matter of preference, I’m not really a fan of the big, bold, and beautiful Cali Pinots. ($30)
The Picket Fence was originally a B-, but upgraded after I tasted how the fruit developed into a tasty ambrosia. It was such a juicy wine, ridiculous. I’m buying more of this. ($30)
The Napa Cellars was better than I expected from a Napa Valley Pinot Noir, and wasn’t disappointing in that respect. It was balanced and had decent fruit, but terribly boring, and really failed to show up. ($26)
I unfortunately wasn’t able to throw in a Bourgogne Village and a cheaper California option as I originally intended, but it was pretty fun to taste blind and really get an objective view of the wines I tasted.
A few other bloggers have weighed in on the event, here’s what they have to say:
Brian Wingman on Norcalwingman – Brian breaks a few laws, shows of his sweet bike, and still finds time to cast his vote in the #PinotNoir Smackdown. Badass.
Sally on Sally Around the Bay – Sally isn’t a wine blogger, nor a wino by any means. She walked into a blind tasting organized for the #PinotNoir smackdown an describes the experience of being way over your head in wine geek utopia. Glad she liked the wine, though!
Joe Herrig on Suburban Wino – Joe reminisces over the #PinotNoir Smackdown like a warm childhood memory, making a few points about Pinot Noir in general, as well as the general success of the event.