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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Great Bang-for-the-Buck Pinots


I’m a member of the San Diego chapter of the American Wine Society (AWS).  Recently they had a BLIND tasting of Pinot Noirs from around the world.   I loved that the tasting was blind so that none of our prejudices could stack the deck…in my way of thinking, all wine should be tasted blindly.

The group was told in advance that there were wines from Burgundy, Italy, Argentina, New Zealand, Oregon and California. We were also told that the wines were poured in a random order that had been determined by drawing numbers from a hat prior to the tasting.

AWS provided a scoring sheet that was based on a 20 point system.  Categories and points were as follows:

  • Appearance (0-3 points)
  • Smell:  (0-6 points)
  • Taste (0-6 points)
  • Finish (0-3 points)
  • Bonus (0-2 points…given for any outstanding attributes)
We were asked to analyze each wine and score each.  After tasting and scoring all wines, we were then asked to rank them from highest score to lowest.  I was sitting between 2 men, one of who was my husband, the other a friend.  The 3 of us did not compare our thoughts until after the tasting.  While our point values were different for each of the wines, it was uncanny that the 3 of us had all ranked the same wine for the #1 spot, the same wine for #2, and the same wine for #3.  Considering the number of wines, our same rankings for the top 3 wines were very unlikely due to chance.

Three wines floated to the top with high scores well beyond the others (i.e. for the 3 tasters mentioned above).  The best news of all is that all of these wines were terrific buys for the generally pricey Pinot…each came at (or less than) $20.   First place?  Point Conception Salsipuedes from Santa Barbara County 2010.   The close runner-up was Decoy’s rendition from the Anderson Valley, 2010. (Decoy is owned by Duckhorn, one of Napa’s longstanding powerhouse’s for Merlot).   The bronze medal (again, according to myself and 2 compatriots) went to a Kiwi, the 2009 Vavasour.  (When Wine-Knows heads to New Zealand in 2014, Vavasour will be sure to be on our list!)

For more information about AWS chapters in your area, check it out:  http://www.americanwinesociety.org/

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