TN: Blind Tasting Practice (Desire Lines, Weltner, Massican, Goodfellow, Jouan, Walter)

A good friend is starting to work through the MS program, so I put together a blind tasting for him of 3 whites and 3 reds. While I knew the identities of the wines I tried to follow along through the “deductive tasting” methodology as outlined in the MS curriculum. It’s certainly useful from a clinical evaluation standpoint, but it does suck some of the joy from the tasting process.

What follows are my notes, as well as some info on my friend’s guesses as to the wines. He did pretty darned well on almost everything, especially since I picked a couple of things to deliberately try to trick him.

White wine flight (all white wines opened, but not decanted, about 45 minutes prior to serving):

2020 Desire Lines Riesling Wiley Vineyard (Anderson Valley)

DIAM cork. Straw color. Expressive aromatics that showed a lot of citrus zest (orange), warm stones and a touch of spice. Very strong acid backbone, medium body and quite dry. My gut reaction to this wine is that it busts out of any “California Riesling” model into a more European style. It showed really well both to me and my friend – he was talking about the acidity and the body of the wine, and eventually settled on “young Riesling from the Pfalz” which is a pretty cool assessment, especially for Cody!

2020 Weltner Rödelseer Schwanleite Scheurebe trocken (Franken)

Screw cap. Quite pale in color – straw works. Loaded with herbal and lemon aromatics, very high, prickly acidity, light body. After a little while it picked up a sort of anonymous floral note – not unlike the aroma when walking down the detergent aisle in the grocery store. Weird but actually not at all unappealing. Sort of familiar. The finish of the wine was exceptionally long – echoing the herbal and lemon notes, leaving my mouth watering from all that acidity. His guess for this was “2021 German Riesling or Riesling adjacent.” Adjacent it was!

2020 Massican Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard (Napa Valley – Carneros)

Standard cork. Only slightly darker than the two preceding wines, this was classic Hyde, with lemon, pear and then baking spice notes. Moderate acidity and a long lemon/apple finish. This carried on even longer than the Scheurebe, which was quite a feat. Last summer I thought this needed at least a year to come together, but it has really come into form in just a few months. Should drink well for quite a long time. My friend guessed California Chardonnay, which I expected, as this was intentionally a bit of a layup.

Red wine flight (all wines double decanted 2.5 hours prior to serving):

2017 Goodfellow Family Cellars Pinot Noir Pumphouse Block Temperance Hill (Eola-Amity Hills)

DIAM cork. Garnet color. Lots of red berry fruit on the nose, along with a deep, woodsy aroma. Medium bodied and with firm tannic structure, it carried the red berry fruit all through the finish. After another thirty minutes or so (so three hours after opening/decanting) the wine picked up a pit-smoked meat note along the woodsy/forest floor. Very expressive and well balanced. Wish I had a case of it, as it seems like a wine to follow for a very long time. My friend went eventually went with “California Pinot Noir” and was kicking himself, as he was initially closer to the mark. Always go with your first guess!

2017 Henri Jouan Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Echezeaux Vieilles Vignes

Standard cork. Darker garnet than the Goodfellow, but oddly a very confected aromatic – candied strawberry. This seemed (at first) more new world than the Goodfellow. Then about 30 minutes later (again!) it transformed, tightened up the fruit into something more classic, developed a more assertive earthy influence, and displayed more structure. Weight and structure were very similar to the Goodfellow, leading my friend to guess that they were of similar origin, so he went “California Pinot Noir” again. Oops. :wink:

I had intentionally placed those two wines side by side. The Goodfellow Pinots had reminded me of Jouan since I first tried them. Largely a matter of structure and form - they both come across as very elegant, but not at all lacking in flavor or depth. This tasting did nothing to dissuade that perception.

2016 Josef Walter Bürgstadter Centgrafenberg Spätburgunder “J” trocken (Franken)

Screw cap. Similar in color to the preceding two wines, this had a more immediate forest floor note, along with a hyacinth aroma and ripe strawberry fruit. Higher acid than the other two Pinots, and also much lower tannin. Pretty much an acid only structure. Not quite as certain on origin this time, my friend went with “Pinot Noir from somewhere east of France.” It also helped him that he knows I don’t have any New Zealand Pinot in the cellar.

Overall, a really fun tasting. He also blinded me on two wines. I got pretty close on one when I said “young, ripe Barbaresco” and it was a 2018 Vajra Barolo Albe. The other wine he poured was a Beaujolais, that I said tasted like a cross between Ruche and Syrah. It was quite odd. Forgot to write down the name.


Thanks for sharing. The woodsy notes (and fir) are my favorite OR tells. Very fun challenge with the Pinots. I’ve called Spatburgunder a NZ PN and goofed on ripe/sweet Burgs. Fun stuff. Your friend did well with the whites.



Great tasting and thanks for the exquisite notes! I love blind tastings

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I hadn’t tasted anything blind in a while. I was glad to see I still had some skill with the Nebbiolo. It’s fun.


Finished up the Desire Lines tonight. Too bad Cody can’t emboss the bottle with “GG.” He could double the price.

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High praise indeed! I’m going to have to track down some of the Desire Lines.

I have such a hard time keeping my hands off them and letting them age!!