So, you think you know your wine?

13 post(s)

 
 
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Dan Trcka 21 posts

Episode #1.
Watching the introduction prior to episode 1, I already knew that this series will be enjoyable for me to watch and I had a hunch that it will get a rise out of me. Hence, I am setting up this topic and here are some of my comments: Before I begin, I would like to give a bit of my background, I taught myself how to taste; I only have 244 reviews and usually I am quite humble.

With this first episode, I am quite surprised about the critics and their assessment of the wine, which, coincidently, I previously reviewed.

First, John (Master Sommelier) guesses the age to be at least 6 to 7 years old (2004 or 2005), thinks of Nebbiolo (wow, what a mistake! Very distinct varietal and I cannot imagine how such a mistake was made, especially if 6 to 7 years old).
Second, I must congratulate Sara on identifying Merlot and pushing it out there, despite some sarcasm from John.
Third, Steve was good to contradicting John on the age of the wine and doubting Spanish origins.
Fourth, Spain? Tempranillo? I would not think this wine resembles Tempranillo, but this is a minor mistake in my opinion, the aging process however is a bigger mistake and was correctly pointed out by Steve.
Fifth, majority of wines that come out of Italy (sold at LCBO) contain Sangiovese, so once the country was revealed, it is just a matter of knowing the stats, not actually tasting.
Sixth, I feel that the identification was done communally and I consider that one to be a failure. I think that perhaps it would be better if the critics wrote their opinions down in one minute (perhaps commenting on the color, aromas and any other features without giving out any hints) and then showing them for all of us to see. Once shown and without them knowing what the wine is, they can discuss their reasonings behind. I really would like to see that.
Seventh, is there room for some of the dedicated user reviewers like myself to join this? Wouldn’t that be something…..

 
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Kevin Donato 2 posts

I think this series will be quite fun to watch, and very informative for the seasoned enophile and the beginner alike. I like the discussion and the group efforts but I too agree with Dan that the contestants should be able to write down their answer and give some justification behind their choice. Otherwise, we just witnessed a sort of poker game. I thought it entertaining to watch how John immediately came out of the gate postulating the older age or perhaps Nebbiolo was the variety. Perhaps he was trying to persuade the others, but neither of them was going to buy into that bet.

Definitely keep the countries secret next time. It just goes to show how the combination of grape, terroir, and winemaking technique can yield a great array of styles and expressions.

Great job, looking forward to more. And yes, having some Winealign users and bloggers appear every now and then would be of great appeal.

 
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Bryan McCaw Administrator 90 posts

We appreciate the input and feedback around the series. We’ve filmed six pilot episodes and the format does vary a little between episodes. Generally we go around the table at the end to ask the critic to identify the characteristics. We didn’t in this episode because Amil answered Steve’s question.

The original concept was to write down their guesses at the beginning. This issue with that approach is that it fails to meet our objectives which were to create compelling content and reinforce the expertise of the experts. Writing down their original guess doesn’t allow a conversation to develop around the wine. In the other episodes there are differences between the critics on what they think the wine is.

We’re very willing to mix the formula up in the next series of episodes and we will definitely do the write down/commit and defend approach in one of the episodes. I also think bringing in three of our more prolific bloggers to try their hand might be an interesting angle, among several we are considering.

 
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Andrew Hunter 3 posts

This is a great idea, really fun to watch…(next time no hints from the host, unless they admit defeat!). I’d love to try this, though going head to head with these guys would be pretty intimidating. I noticed no one is shown really tasting the wine, is this deliberate? The show looks good too, slick production.

 
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Dan Trcka 21 posts

Thank you Bryan for giving some clarification about the structure of next episodes. I too agree with Kevin and Andrew, who emphasize how well this production is done; I didn’t stress it enough in my first post – perhaps due to being so heated up.

It will be good to see some of the bloggers participating, if I am invited, I am sure I will get some beating from the critics, some of which surely will be deserved :-).

Looking forward to the next episode(s).
cheers

 
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Carol Ann Jessiman Administrator 27 posts

Great fun, Bryan! I look forward to seeing some more episodes. One idea for you… If you tell me what the next wine tasted will be, I will go out and buy a bottle so that I can taste it along with them. Not that I need another excuse to buy more wine! CA

 
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Norm N 55 posts

Good fun, these videos. Only thing that annoys me is the constant movement of the handheld camera…very distracting. Other than that, I quite liked it. A suggestion for future, if it is at all feasible, would be to add a non-professional wine enthusiast, perhaps from the many Wine Align members. Perhaps done by lottery?

 
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Dan Trcka 21 posts

Episode #3
Nicely done! Both, the video is informative as to why the critics came to their conclusions as well as the critic’s assessments despite not being quite right. To me, this just confirms what I have been thinking for the past while, that wines in the above $15 range have more of an individuality or a sense of a place, whereas less costly wines are less distinctive (there are some exceptions of course).

I am a bit puzzled though. Both Steve and David are taking wild guesses as to the wine’s origins and I understand Steve’s guess of New Zealand, as it is a huge white producer, but I am not sure why David chose Argentina. Germany and Canada are quite large producers of whites, why not guess Canada?

 
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Norm N 55 posts

Dan, I think that many sub-$15 wines may not have indivuduality/character because they are either made for the masses (homogeneous style) and/or are made from relatively high yields. That said, I have found some sub-$15 wines, especially from the Cotes Du Rhone and Languedoc/Roussillon regions to be brimming with character. Also, I have found many rather expensive wines to be devoid of character because they have been so over-manipulated with heavy oak use, over-ripening, etc.- wines made to impress the critices (esp Robert Parker). John Szabo did a good piece on this very subject not too long ago and he was right on the money (http://www.winealign.com/blog/2011/06/17/john-s… )

 
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Bryan McCaw Administrator 90 posts

Dan, regarding Episode #3. This was actually the very first wine we filmed and it was a cruel choice on my part. You generally want to start with the whites and move to the reads with any sampling, so that’s what I did here. Unfortunately, while a nice refreshing white wine, it was not a ‘classic’ Gruner. So a very tough wine to start with and not a big confidence builder (next time we will have a warm up with a easy wine). Interesting, if you click on the wine and look at the reviews you’ll see that David reviewed in 2010 and mentioned it only having traces of Gruner.

 
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Dan Trcka 21 posts

Norm, thank you for your comment. I fully agree with you and actually that is what I was eluting to, I just didn’t want to offend anyone calling cheaper wines ‘wines for the masses’. I also have found some unique, under $15, distinct wines, namely from Italy and Portugal (though, these are dwindling), but unfortunately these sometimes can vary greatly from vintage to vintage, more-so than the bit more expensive ones. You are right, John’s piece is enlightening, but I also think that we don’t have to be afraid of wines losing their individuality anytime soon, as demand has always dictated the direction, whether now or 500 years ago.

 
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Dan Trcka 21 posts

Bryan, thank you for your comment as well. I didn’t know that all of the episodes were filmed at once, although that makes sense. In that case, why aren’t all four critics always present? Perhaps it was a good choice to not get the critics too confident right at the beginning (while unintentional). I agree with you and also think that if you started with reds and then moved onto whites, the critics would not be able to objectively guess.

I am not surprised that none of the critics got the varietal right, nor I think any less of them (unlike episode #1). As you know, I have not reviewed a single white wine, so I cannot comment. I know that blind tasting is tough (I have been trying it myself) and hence I have more of an appreciation/respect for the critics when they get it right. But again to my question, since Steve (guessed Chardonnay) and David (guessed Pinot gris) said that it can be from anywhere (John was decided on Italy) and both of these varietals are grown in Canada, why not choose Canada, hence promoting it?

Anyway, I am having fun and am learning a lot – after all isn’t that the point?

 
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Dan Trcka 21 posts

Episode # 5
Well done by all critics, I think I will get another bottle and re-review it, as last time I got a bottle at initial stages of spoilage.