Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Surrendering Our Wine Badges

The boys and I were at it again last Wednesday night, giving it our best tries to stump each other with our wines concealed in brown bags. Bedford’s lovely Bistro Twenty Two was our accommodating host this time, and Lance, George and I took the opportunity to bring out some serious juice…..3 bottles of which turned out to be major league ringers! We were so off-course with some of our guesses that we’re thinking of perusing alternate careers.

If Lance’s aim was to improve his record after last session’s zero-for-two performance, then his mission was accomplished, starting with his first entry. This white, which became unanimously voted Wine Of The Night, had George and me convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that we were drinking white Burgundy. We threw out guesses like Jean Grivot and Comte Lafon. So when 2005 Aubert Chardonnay Lauren was revealed, we were instantly reduced to boys. Now, last August’s Kistler Chard was rather Burgundian, but this stuff proves that great Mersault can be duplicated in Sonoma. What a gem, and a triumph for Lance. Brilliant! And generous.

George threw one of his reds into the mix, and Lance & I instantly narrowed it down in our minds to either Italy or Spain, leaning toward Italy. The wine was clearly mature, and offered numerous Euro-style secondaries, but was all-the-more difficult to pin down. After a barrage of pitifully-inaccurate guesses, off came the bag, revealing 1994 Ridge Geyserville! Another American ringer mistaken as European. Fine job.

If this all wasn’t humiliating enough, Lance’s red contribution had George and me, yet again, eating our words like a side of fries. Examining it, we were confident that we were drinking mature Italian……clearly a Nebbiolo, if not a Sangiovese. We threw out long-shot guesses of top-flight Barolo and Brunello producers. Thus, we flipped our wigs when Lance tore away the paper from a bottle of 1989 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape! This one takes the prize as the most un-guessable wine ever bottled. Never has a Grenache blend exhibited fennel, anise, tar and balsamic in such a Piedmont-esque manner. Lance, are you sure you didn’t switch the labels? Nice work!

Beyond these three ringers, the evening included a cracked-pepper and lavender-laden Rhone Syrah/Viognier blend from Yves Cuilleron, a clearly identifiable and beautifully-acidified Pinot Noir from Hirsch Vineyards, and a brawny and youthful single-vineyard 1999 Barbaresco Riserva from Giuseppe Cortese, all of which were narrowed down nearly to producer in a 20-questions fashion. This was truly the most humbling round yet for our crew. Thanks to B22’s staff for the fantastic meal and service. Until the next one……-Michael Koehler –

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