This was a fun little event — an honest to God blind tasting, courtesy of Karl Wente, of the Wente winemaking family, who wanted to see if we could suss out four of his wines… with minimal clues. The only thing he’d let on: That all four of these wines were blended to some degree, but all still bore a varietal name on the label, indicating they were mostly made from a single type of grape.
Here’s how this tasting — a look at the variety of flavors that Livermore fruit can produce — shook out. First come my tasting notes and a guess at the grape, followed by the reveal.
Wine #1 – Clear black cherry, tea notes. Some jamminess, but open. Light chocolate notes on the finish. My guess: Petite Sirah. B
Answer: 2010 Wente Sandstone Merlot, $15
Wine #2 – Raisiny, lots of jam, but some incense spices there. Doesn’t have a lot of balance, too fruity. Body doesn’t come together. Guessing a Cabernet Sauvignon-heavy blend. B-
Answer: 2010 Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon, $15
Wine #3 – More jammy character, with big chocolate and plums. Opens up with a little time in glass. Better structure, with a good slug of mint on it. Guessing Cabernet Franc primarily. B
Answer: 2010 Wente Small Lot Cabernet Franc , $40
Wine #4 – Far different than the others. The fruit is dialed back, more earth, lots of herbs, good richness, old world in style. You can get Port-like flavors in the finish as it airs out a bit. Lots of fun; intriguing. Guess: No idea. A-
Answer (a ringer): 2009 Los Tesoros de Joaquin Souzao, $24 (the Souzao grape is traditionally used in Port production)