Just as last year the WING December Tasting took the form of a Call-My-Wine-Bluff Quiz. An idea borrowed from Perkins Restaurant. You can see last year’s WING report by scrolling back to December 9th 2014, or the two Perkins reports at June 23rd 2014 or October 5th 2015.

The WING version this year had a general theme of Wines From Elsewhere, in other words wines made in styles, or from grapes, normally associated with a different “home”.

Here are my notes:

The first wine was a Sparkler (not from Champagne).
The nose showed honey and mineral notes over a slightly yeasty tone. The palate was slightly peachy with a nut-skin undertone and a light but creamy mousse. But was it a Cremant de Loire form mostly Chenin? A Franciacorta from Lombardy, based on Chardonnay? Or a Tasmanian Champagne-copy made by Jansz?
The honey notes might help you to pick the correct answer…

The 3 Bluffers reveal the answer...

The 3 Bluffers reveal the answer…

The second wine was a 2011 Riesling (not from Germany or Alsace)
This had immediate hints of diesel with some floral tones mingling in quite a long and complex nose. The palate showed strong – dominating – citric acidity,  indicating youth imbalance? The finish, eventually had a lime and chalk finish… indicating a possibly quite classy wine in 4 years or so… But was it: from Brooks in Willamette Valley, Oregon? Or Derwent Estate in Tasmania? Or a Smaragd from Loibenberg in Wachau?
To be fair it was rather leaner than I would expect from a Smaragd, but hard to know which of the others to plump for…

The third wine was a 2014 Rosé (not from Provence).
This was encouragingly pale and bright, with a rather red-wine nose – also encouraging – with hints of sweet strawberry and forest fruit. The palate reflected the sweet/sour strawberry with a refreshing citric line and a bitter/sweetness echoed at the finish. But was it a Muga Rioja Rosado based on Grenache? A Corsican Rosé from Calvi with 50% Niellucciu (= Sangiovese)? Or Faugères Rosé (50% Cinsault with Mourvedre and Grenache).
This was quite hard, the wine was lighter than I would expect from a Rioja Rosado, and the fruit a little sweeter than I might expect from Sangiovese, but that’s pretty vague…

The fourth wine was a Pinot Noir (not from Burgundy)
This had quite bright red fruit nose with a compost hint. The palate was drying with sweet raspberry and cherry fruit and a hint of bitter herbs. Quite long with a warm finish, in a rather Burgundian style. A little young maybe but rather good. But was it “Roaring Meg” 2012 from Central Otago in NZ? “Thea’s Selection” 2010 from Oregon? or “Pure South” 2013 from Tasmania?
I have actually drunk earlier vintages of these three wines and chose them because they are restrained by New World Pinot standards. So I think this perhaps the hardest of all to guess, though I think its lean-ness might betray both its age and origin…

WING Members contemplate the scarcely believable tales they have been told. Including the eventual winner, Ann (second from left).

WING Members contemplate the scarcely believable tales they have been told. Including the eventual winner, Ann (second from left).

The fifth wine was from a big tannic French grape (but not from France)
This had dark fruit with some vanilla oak – blackberry and black cherry hints. Quite an oaky, fruit driven palate with an earthy twist and toasty and coffee tannins. Quite well balanced and big enough for the oak, and in fact the most popular wine of the night (with tasting sample quantities it made an impression). But was it: a 2012 Malbec from Paarl in South Africa? A 2011 Tannat from Uruguay? Or a 2010 Mourvèdre from California?
Very different, if big, grapes far from home (or home-from-home in the case of the Malbec). The clues must be – again – by elimination.. Did the wine show the fragrance one might expect from Mourvèdre? Or the grip of a Tannat? Or the suppleness one might expect from (more especially) an Argentinian Malbec???

The last wine was from Portugal (but from where?)
This had – for me – quite a claret-shaped nose: forest floor, cedar, dark fruit.. The palate has spicy warmth with a sharp cassis acidity and good structure. Rather good, and probably my favourite… But was it: an 2009 Alentejo (Aragones, Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Trincadeira and Syrah). A 2008 Douro from Niepoort (with a Port grape mix)? Or a 2010 Bairrada (made from the Baga grape)?
Quite hard, and at least one case where the descriptions helped – one explanation referring to the Bordeaux style of the Niepoort offering!

The correct answers were:


Cremant de Loire Brut “La Perrière”  – Caves de Saumur (about £11 UK)

Willamette Valley Riesling 2011 (Brooks) – Sun, Vine & Stone £17

Faugères Rosé “Les Léonides” 2014 – Sun, Vine & Stone £11

“Pure South” Tasmanian Piniot Noir 2013 (Chromy)  –  M&S £14

Plaisir de Merle Malbec 2012 – Paarl –  Fareham Wine Cellar £15

Vertente Tinto 2008 (Niepoort, Douro)   – Fareham Wine Cellar £17

Just as a year ago there was a tie for winner, between only two clever WING-ers. The tie was settled, at the second attempt by guessing as close as possible to the location of this picture>>>

It is in fact a view, looking North West over the vineyards of Alsace, actually at the South end of the Bas-Rhin, just North of the village of Scherwiller, not far from Selestat. Dambach is a little out of frame to the right, and most of the vines pictured here are Riesling.

Ann finally prevailed, a deserved winner of a (75cl) bottle of Blandy’s 10 year old Verdelho Madeira, a lovely tipple at this time of the year. But with Richard running her so close, I’ve decided a runner up prize should be awarded – to be handed over at the January tasting.

A very interesting and enjoyable evening – I think I’m safe in saying. Who knows when (or if) we’ll do it next year… I hope we will.

Until soon…