Two of Manila's top New World Pinot importers organized a blind tasting to establish bragging rights for the best Pinots in Manila, with Premium Wine Exchange bringing the 6 Californians and Zen Asia bringing in the 6 NZ wines.
There were some problems with the logistics as there weren't enough glasses at the venue for all 12 wines to be poured together so we had to taste in 2 flights of 6 each. All were served blind with only the importers knowing the identities of the wines. There were 10 of us asked to judge the event.
#1 Medicinal nose, good fruit and flavor but a little hot on the finish. Good balance.
#2 Good fruit again with some grip. Long finish. Better than #1.
#3 Closed. Very dry. Seems a bit underripe. Nothing on the front palate but a good finish. Lots of acid.
#4 Earthy nose and berries, too. Spicy. Excellent balance. Lots of fruit here. Some candy also showing. Best so far.
#5 Earthy again but not as much as #4. Good weight. Very ripe with sweet strawberry character.
#6 Chewy, very young. Dark, tannic. Not ready but great potential here.
I ranked them from best to worst: 6,4,5,2,1,3
The group's ranking: 2,4,5,3,1,6
The wines were revealed as: #1 Felton Road '03 (NZ), #2 Babcock '03 (CA), #3 Te Kairanga '02 (NZ), #4 Costa de Oro '02 (CA), #5 Neudorf Moutere '03 (NZ), #6 Archery Summit '01 (CA)
Apparently I was the only one who liked the Archery Summit.
After a break we proceeded with flight 2:
#1 Sweet strawberry and cherry. Nicely judged oak. Good.
#2 Candy nose, earthy taste. Quite dry. Lacks fruit.
#3 Earthy nose. Very ripe fruit. Quite sweet. Good.
#4 Vegetal nose, vegetal taste. Green and unpleasant. The chef seated beside me said it smelled like old mushrooms.
#5 Some earthiness in the nose. Nicely balance, harmonious wine. A touch of heat but overall quite nice.
#6 Closed nose. Sweet and spicy. Good fruit. Some grip in the finish.
My ranking from best to worst: 3, 6, 5, 1, 2, 4
The group's ranking from best to worst: 5, 6, 3, 1, 2, 4
The wines were revealed as: #1 Dog Point '04 (NZ), #2 Spy Valley '03 (NZ), #3 Summerland '04 (CA), #4 Chehalem Ridgecrest '02 (CA), #5 Wither Hills '03 (NZ), #6 Saintbury Reserve '02 (CA)
There was some discussion as to whether the Chehalem was a bad bottle. A new one was opened and while it was not as vegetal as the first bottle, there was still the unmistakable scent and taste of green-ness. The Chehalem would still have ranked as everyone's least favorite even with the new bottle.
While each importer got a top wine in each flight, there were invevitably some excuses about not really showing the best wines they had yadda yadda yadda. So the judges proposed another show down this time with the best Pinots in their portfolios. This is scheduled next week and I believe will include some Beaux Freres, and single vineyard wines from Neudorf and Felton Road plus some from Oz and a Burgundy to keep things interesting.