It was time. The boxes were almost all unpacked. The prints were on the walls. The new patio furniture had been purchased and (painfully) assembled. Hell, there were even new wine glasses. It was time to throw a party.
The theme was a blind tasting of Cabernet Francs. My group of friends and family have these parties a few times a year and usually there is some kind of theme (Washington Merlots, $10 Cabs, Bordeaux blends, Syrahs, you get the idea) and we all bring a wine of our choosing and hide it in a paper bag so as not to be influenced while we taste everything. At the end of the blind tasting, the wines are revealed and we talk about which ones we all liked best…and least. There are always surprises on both ends of the spectrum. More often than not, the most expensive bottle does not win. This time I decided to add a couple twists. Instead of wine, I had everyone bring the food. Boy did that ever cut down on the pre-party prep and stress! In turn, I supplied all the wines. As usual, they were disguised during the tasting (I even got overly-crafty and covered them with wine inspired artwork) and we all took notes about what we liked and why. The other twist was that I also gave them a list of possible wineries that the wines came from. So along with looking at the color of the wine, analyzing the nose, discussing the finish, etc, etc., etc. – they also had to take a guess at what winery it might be from. Now some of you out there might be thinking that we are all very sophisticated and have amazing pallets to be able to do something like this. I assure you, that is not the case. There was a four way tie at the end – all four people had managed to guess one correct winery. Even my dad (who’s pallet far surpasses any of ours) only got one right. It was neat to have everyone else see that even he couldn’t pick them out. It was basically a guessing game and fun to see how close (or far) everyone was from guessing right. During the tasting (6 wines total) I also had trivia questions – wine related of course – and even handed out prizes! I think I probably had more fun than anyone; what a blast to plan it and put it all together. I was sad to see it end but so very happy that I was home and didn’t have to drive anywhere. I think I was in my jammies 10 minutes after the last car was out of the driveway. I can’t wait to start planning the next party…a true housewarming party complete with grilling (still need to buy a grill) and lawn games. Glad a I have over a month to get ready for that one.
Here are the Cabernet Francs that we tasted and a few comments on each. Let me preface by saying that we did not have any bad ones in the bunch – thank God. I did take the added precaution of opening up and tasting all the bottles before everyone got here, just in case something was corked.
Here’s the list – in the order we tasted them:
- Hollywood Hills (WA) – Lighter style than the others, a good one to start with. Nice (but soft) nose, good fruit, very little tannins, nice smooth finish. Most ranked it about an 8.
- NW Vine Project (OR) – Little darker in color than the first wine, but still lighter than most. Fantastic nose – smelled like juicy berries and a fairly long finish…one person even put “Must Have” on his tasting notes. Rankings ranged from 7 3/4 to 9
- Wente (Santa Cruise, CA) – The one had an earthy nose, and really stood out from the others in this way. Good taste and finished with slight tannins, not a fruit bomb kind of wine, although there was hints of fruit in the finish. Rankings ranged from 7 3/4 – 8 1/2.
- Kennedy Shaw (Rattlesnake Hills, WA) – Comments on the nose ranged from chocolate to violets and berries and someone even detected oak. It was the darkest and biggest of the wines we’d had up until this point and had a great, lingering finish. People loved it. Most ranked it at an 8 or 8 1/2.
- Cuillin Hills (WA) – Fruit, fruit and more fruit on the nose – comments were “juicy” and “jammie.” Didn’t taste like pure fruit though, nice hint of spice, especially on the finish. Mild tannins, did not overpower everything else that was going on. This one was the favorite of more people than any of the others and this was the first bottle emptied when we went back to drink more of our favorites. Rankings were either 8 1/2 or 9. If there was an “overall winner” then this was it.
- DiStefano’s (WA) (Their Cab Franc is called “Sogno”) – A classic and a well loved Cab Franc year over year. The notes mentioned berries and plums in the nose and moderate tannins on the nice/longfinish. I was stunned that the whole group didn’t know it immediately, but I believe only one guessed it correctly. However, I was not stunned that everyone rated it very high. Most ranked it 8 – 8 1/2.