For the past few months each Friday night a member of staff opens a bottle of wine of their choosing for a blind tasting. We have grid sheets, a point system, and a tracker that keeps the overall score. It is a friendly competition where we all enjoy guessing as well as stumping our fellow colleagues.
Two weeks ago when my turn rolled around, I brought in a mysterious bottle of white wine I found at home. Now, often, when you blind taste a wine your mind can start to trick you. One aroma or scent can trigger a memory of another wine, and then you start to believe you smell other characteristics! Sometimes this trick can help you to be very successful, but other times it can make you dizzy.
While we allowed the aromas to challenge our knowledge and senses, we all took a moment to notice the wine's intricate nuances and were surprised about the amazing quality of the wine! We couldn't stop commenting on how exceptional it was. "Do we carry this?" "Why don't we carry this?!" were among the questions that puzzled our little wine gathering.
The first whiff of a white wine can be very blunt. There are five varietals that are commonly known as the aromatic varietals. They include Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Torrontes. While the blind wine had a beautiful nose, it was clear it was not one of the five aromatic varietals. This made all our brains and palates annoyed at the struggle to decipher the delicious liquid's true nature!
Jeff, one of our most seasoned staff members, thought "the finesse of the wine means Chardonnay, but a new world Chardonnay that did not come from California." It had a fresh and lively character with a hint of finesse, but lacked any oak character. A few other staff members thought Chardonnay as well. Lilia, our Burgundy liaison, thought it could be Burgundy due the fresh acidity laced throughout the wine. A good guess as its parent grape is a Burgundy native. Elsa, our Loire liaison, thought that the finesse could mean a California Chardonnay, but from the Russian River to match the brightness of the wine.
Two great guesses came from our NZ liaison, Stefanie, and our Champagne and Spirits liaison, Alex. Stefanie came to the conclusion of a dry Malvasia from Sicily based on the liveliness, gentle but prominent minerality, and ripe citrus fruit. A great guess as it is another native varietal from the Mediterranean region. Alex was a bit closer guessing that it was Kerner from the Alto Adige. This would account for most of the wine's characteristics: the color, the acidity and the minerality. However, Kerner is a cross between Riesling and the red varietal, Trollinger, so it would be much more aromatic. This wine was so elusive!
Our Champagne buyer, Gary, and our Rhone liaison, Thomas, both made excellent guesses! They hit the nose on the head with the varietal, but guessed Friuli as the region. Friuli has a very similar climate and wine making style as this wine's region. Both use very little or no oak, but do have lees contact.
Are you able to guess what it is?
I can give you one more hint. All staff got the correct vintage - 2016. A young white wine.
One last guess?
It is the 2016 Cantina Andrian "Finado" Pinot Bianco from the Alto Adige!
A stainless steel fermented Pinot Bianco that is hand harvested in mid September to ensure full ripeness in the Alpine climate. It then spends 6 months on the lees to add a fantastic texture to the wine.
After the tasting, we were all excited to ask Greg to bring some in and we are very happy he did! You can come and ask about this great Pinot Bianco that had us all truly mesmerized.
- Rachel Alcarraz