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Call my Bluff

By Tom Cannavan, 03/99

This light hearted blind-tasting competition in the University of Strathclyde followed the format of TVs "Call My Bluff". Eight glasses of mystery wine were poured. For each one, three "expert" panellists read out a detailed description - name, country of origin, vintage and tasting notes. One description was the correct one for the wine in the glass, the others were ingenious - but totally false and full of red herrings. We contestants had to identify which description matched the wine in the glass. It was a fun event that turned into a night of bad decisions on 50/50 choices for me. I could easily eliminate one of the choices each time, but couldn't decide on the remaining two - and the organisers were a bit sneaky, including so many Greek wines!
The 3 choices are shown for each round, the correct wine highlighted in red. My notes are as written.

Gratien & Meyer (Loire) Saumur cuvee Flamme NV
Verano (Spain) Cava NV
Hardys (Australia) Nottage Hill Sparkling Chardonnay NV
Fruity, but rather tinny and slightly harsh. Some nice apple fruit and there, but lots of acidity too and an abrupt finish. Guess at Cava.

Errazuriz (Chile) Sauvignon Blanc 1997
McDonald (New Zealand) Church Road Sauvignon Blanc 1997
La Forêt Hilaire (France) Entre-deux-Mers 1997
Restrained nose. Quite delicate, with pear-drop aromas. Slightly herbaceous and quite grassy, with lemon fruit and sharp acidity. A bit flat and under-powered. It's Sauvignon, but definitely not a 1997 from New Zealand: not nearly enough vitality. Might well be the Errazuriz, but I'll settle for the Entre-deux-Mers.

Domaine Servin (France) Chablis 1997
Chapel Hill (Hungary) Irsai Oliver 1997
Boutari (Greece) Santorini Assyrtiko 1997
Very pale, almost transparent. Muted nose. Can't get much from this. More floral amd lime flavours on the palate, but loads of lemon acidity too. Definitely not Chablis. Irsai Oliver is more fragrant than this so probably the Greek. No, can't get herbal flavours I usually find in Greek whites - I'll vote for Irsai Oliver.

Domaine des Salices (France) Viognier VdP d'Oc 1996
Vinas del Vero (Spain) Barrel-fermented Chardonnay 1996
KWV (South Africa) Chenin Blanc NV
Fragrant, peachy nose. This isn't the Chardonnay - no sign of oak. Flavours of peach and apricot and a nice touch of nuttiness. Some lemon acidity in the finish, but good balance and a nice, spicy note. Quite nice. This is the Viognier.

Norton (Argentina) Malbec 1995
Pierre Ferrand (France) Chinon 1997
Letrari (Italy) Maso Lodron 1995
Medium/dark slightly browning ruby. Certainly not Malbec. Nose of earthy, wet leaves and herbaceous blackcurrant fruit. Quite lush and earthy on the palate, with some good tannins and a decent finish. Quite complex. Classic Cabernet Franc: the Chinon is a banker.

Boutari (Greece) Agiorgitiko 1994
Chateau des Plantades (France) Bergerac 1996
Rosemount Estate (Australia) Cabernet/Shiraz 1997
Soft ruby colour. Has a bit of age. Gently spicy nose, some vanillin oak and strawberry fruit. Not an Australian Shiraz. Quite warm berry fruits on the palate. Underpowered into the finish, but quite nice. Go for the Bergerac.

Safeway Pinot Noir (Romania) 1995
Garnet Point (California) Zinfandel/Barbera 1996
Hauts-Côtes de Nuits "Tête de Cuvée" Burgundy 1995 (producer unknown)
Palish crimson colour. Sweet, jammy nose with leafy, mint and blackcurrant leaf aromas. Mix of strawberry and earthier forest-fruit flavours. Very jammy and commercial, but attractive enough. Definitely not the Burgundy, nor the other Pinot I think. More like a commercially styled Zinfandel, so must be the Californian.

Château des Charmes (Canada) Late-harvest Riesling 1996
Cady (France) Coteaux du Layon Chaume 1997
Maculan (Italy) Dindarello 1997
Not the Dindarello - had it recently and it was much darker than this light straw/gold. Not a late-harvest riesling colour either. Nice nose of sweet apricot and pear, lightly honeyed. Good apple, pear and mandarin orange fruit on the palate. Full and luscious with slightly straw-like notes in the finish and good, honeyed character. This is the Coteaux du Layon and really rather nice.