Wine Weekend 1: Reds, whites and you

I owed myself a weekend of fun for ages and cashed in Friday, Saturday and Sunday by attending five wine events. Here’s number one:

The task: to blind taste nine Chinese wines. The goal: to pick a favorite red and white. The rules: each taster received two poker chips and voted by placing them in the boxes fronting the wines they liked. Simple enough: here are the results of a tasting, held last Friday night at Sequoia Cafe, and my notes and grades (and as mentioned ad infinitum, I am not a wine expert, merely a humble consumer):

The whites

19 votes: Grace Chardonnay 2006
Granny Smith apple tartness on the nose with more apples and green plums in the light pleasant body. Someone described it as “like Chinese Semillon”. This is arguably the best value Chinese wine out there. (B+)

1 vote: Huadong Chardonnay 2002
Mild with some baked apples and honey on the nose; a creamy body. It tasted a bit too weak, too mild, too old. (B-)

1 vote: Catai Chardonnay 2004
Chemically syrupy fruitiness, almost like a cheap homemade wine smell, while the body had hints of sugar water and a slight bitterness. (D)

1 vote: Taillan 2007 (winemaker Alain Leroux brought a sample of a wine he’s only partially fermented)
The nose was medicinal with a woody varnish smell. This wine was so tart I could feel a stomachache coming on. (D)

The reds

11 votes:Catai Cabernet Sauvignon (note: one person voted six times on behalf of his table)
This had a warm nose – fresh cherries – though it smelled a bit syrupy. The body has less fruit than I expected. (C)

4 votes: Taillan Malbec 2003
This had a bit of old cut grass / straw barn smell on the nose along with some cherry (a later bottle had more fruit); easy drinking. (B-/B)

3 votes: Huadong Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Pungent, dark red fruit on the nose and a decent mouth feel. (B-/B)

3 votes: Chateau Bolongbao Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Dusty on the nose, with a light fruity red cherry taste, and slightly rough tannins. (C)

2 votes: Grace Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Some slightly rank strawberries and other fruit and some dustiness on the nose; the body was nice enough and seemed to have a faint nuttiness. (B-/B)

While I graded the Taillan, Huadong and Grace equally, I voted for the first. Proof these wines were at least drinkable – every bottle was empty by the time the last group of a half-dozen tasters left Sequoia and that included opening two more bottles of the Malbec.

Note: Get more info on the Chinese wine scene – go to Facebook, search “China Wine” and join the group.

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