As I’ve said many times,  tasting wine completely blind is a humbling experience. It almost always reveals a surprise or casts pre-conceived notions to hell.  It reduces expectations to rubble and many times, rewardingly validates your palate.  

This past weekend I hosted a casual dinner where I bagged three recent releases that I served alongside sausage topped Portobello mushrooms and a Risotto entree with grilled chicken and spring peas.  There was no set theme for the tasting and that was the only bit of information I gave my dinner guests.  I obviously knew the wines, but after they were bagged,  I had my wife number them. 
The Tasting

Wine #1:  
This was a medium ruby color with a very pretty violet streak to the color.  The nose is classic Sangiovese.  Flowers, dried herbs, and crushed berry.  On the palate the wine is lively, refreshing, with flavors following the nose and hints of Tuscan brush and road dust. It’s delicious.  I knew exactly what it was, but 2 others pegged it as a Chianti Classico.    The Reveal:  2012 Felsina Chianti Classico.  90 points, about $19. 

~ Consistently one of the best Chianti Classico;  this did not disappoint ~

Wine #2:  
This is darker in color than wine #1 and has a completely different aromatic profile.  Ripe cherry, eucalyptus, slight toasty spice and smoke are very appealing.   On the palate, the wine is long and medium to full bodied with an elegant core of ripe wild cherry accented with spice, ash, mineral and a slight black olive note.  Lively, juicy and fresh! It’s lovely and was clearly a notch above the Felsina in terms of relative quality level.  Everyone at the table loved it.  The Reveal:  2011 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso “Calderara Sottana”  93 points, about $34.

~ From the Nerello Mascalese grape, this was so special and delicious ~


Wine #3:  
This is the darkest of the three wines, which pretty much identified the wine for me.  The nose is plummy, with black fruit notes, vanilla spice, smoke and wet stones.  On the palate the wine is young, with some oak character that I’ll say has not quite integrated.  The flavors are nice, but there’s a slightly bitter note that turned off many of the tasters.  The weakest wine of the tasting and it disappointed me because I was certain that I knew what it was.  The Reveal:  2010 La Valentina “Spelt” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  87 points, about $20. 

~ Disappointing showing for this wine that I usually enjoy ~

Aftermath

With only three wines in the tasting it was easy for me to tell them apart, especially given the different backgrounds of each wine and the terroir.  If anything, that was the loose theme I was trying to accomplish – three different wines and how starkly they’d contrast with one another. 
The group voted as follows:  Consensus #1 was the Tenuta delle Terre Nere followed by the Felsina,  but both wines were widely enjoyed by everyone.  That said, when the prices were revealed,  the scale shifted more toward the Felsina.  The Spelt struggled for whatever reason and was clearly lagging behind.  That said, there was almost 1/2 the bottle left the next day and I enjoyed the wine more so I think this wine has some upside.  

Salute!
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