TN: Wine Tasting Cage - Masseto Gets Smacked Down by a bunch


Eight of us converged at the Pamplemousse Grille last night to see who could come up with WOTN and get bragging rights until, well, I guess the next time we do this. We were going to follow the format from a group in L.A. where the person that brings the last place wine pays for everyone’s dinner, but we’re not that mean, so instead it was that winner would have their dinner paid for by whoever’s wine came in last.

So for weeks people agonized over which wine to bring that would eclipse the others. Would a wine with age show poorly against a bunch of “young and restless” bottlings? Would a nuanced wine from the old world get lost among a bunch of California fruitbombs? Personally, I changed my decision three times, setting on the ’90 Conseillante, since it had interesting old world characteristics while still being reasonably young and from a fruit-forward vintage.

Ground Rules: Wines were decanted according to the directions of the person that brought it, and the glasses were pre-poured before we were seated, so all nine (there was a ringer thrown in) were lined up before us. Each person ranked all 9 wines and the one with the highest points was the loser (with lowest points obviously making the winner).

  • 1997 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietor Grown - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Dark berry nose blended with menthol. Attack of berry and dark cherry. Tannins bit back a little, like many of the 97’s. A little hot. My #5, the crowd’s #3 (out of nine) (91 pts.)
  • 2008 Sawbuck Cabernet Sauvignon - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County
    $5 ringer. Cloying sweet nose. Flavor of candied strawberry, blueberry fruit, like it had been manipulated. Some decent acidity, short finish. No one was fooled came in second-to-last (out of 9). (87 pts.)
  • 1999 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto Toscana IGT - Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
    Slightly cloudy. Two people thought it was corked, but most just thought it was a strange bottling, or maybe too much brett. Since it seemed to blow off a little through the night and there WAS a lot of fruit, I think it was something else, but still won’t rate it because it didn’t taste like my past experience with this wine. Dry dark plum, not many secondary charatistics except for the slight taint. Mine and the group’s #9 (last place) NR (flawed)
  • 2006 Viña Cobos Cobos uNico Marchiori Vineyard - Argentina, Mendoza
    Dark deep color. Raisiny nose with an alcohol top layer. Decent fruit, but mouth-biting tannins with a hot finish. My #8, the group’s #7. ‘(out of nine) (89 pts.)
  • 1994 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select - USA, California, Napa Valley, Stags Leap District
    Deep dark purple color, losing it’s brightness, showing a little age but no bricking. Mushroom, earth blended with deep plum on the nose. Mouth filling fruit with softened tannins. Main complaint is that it leaves its a finish mostly on the front palate. My #4, the group’s #6. (out of nine) (93 pts.)
  • 1990 Château La Conseillante - France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol
    Losing brightness, but no bricking. Some age on the nose, along with wet earth, truffles, leather. Lite plum fruit, and medium bodied. Leather on the medium long finish. I guessed this as my wine, but still voted it as #3, the group’s #5. (out of nine) (93 pts.)
  • 2002 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville
    Inky deep purple color. Raisiny nose with a layer of alcohol on top. Dark plumy mouth-filling fruit with finish that stays in the front palate. For my tastes, too big, too bouncy, too raisiny, too alcoholly. The group loved it, just not me. My #7, their #2 (out of nine). Withholding rating since this is obviously just not my style but others love it.
  • 1999 Araujo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Slightly aged appearance, cigar box on nose…Mouth filling dark plum fruits fruit, but the finish was missing something, although there was little cigar ash tannin thing at the end that was nice. My #2, the group’s #4 (out of nine) (93 pts.)
  • 1996 Joseph Phelps Insignia - USA, California, Napa Valley
    Medium garnet color, bright, clear. Leather and earth on the Bordeaux-like nose. Light plum fruits. Long finish of softened pretty fruit with leather finish on top. Good example of perfect anima/animus balance. #1 WOTN (out of nine) (96 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

Not tough to beat out a flawed wine, but fortunately you had quite a few nice wines to back it up.

The note on the Hobbs surprises me that the group enjoyed it - raisins with alcohol - doesn’t sound like a pleasant wine whatsoever!

As Todd inferred, I do have to question your thread title - I mean, it’s surprising to someone that a flawed bottle gets outperformed by normal bottles? I can see whining about bad luck with the Masseto, but your title implies some sort of competitive smackdown.

I get it - it’s more of expectations, as likely the Masseto was expected to show well. Unfortunately, it’s Italian, and expensive, so the chances are 50/50 [stirthepothal.gif]

Looks like a fun tasting. Thanks for the notes. Sorry the Massetto didn’t show better though.

Yeah, if it had been corked or cooked it would have been one thing. But I think those over-the-top Italians leave themselves open to bottle variation so there you go. The guy only had to buy one extra dinner so to me this was an example of “the higher you climb, the harder you fall”. yah man.