Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sauvignon Blanc Blind Tasting Party with Whitehaven & More!

Wow...things have been crazy lately! Finally getting another blog post out, but this one is a little different...I hope it inspires you.

I know I've mentioned them before, but in case you haven't read, I have some really great friends who love wine as much (probably much more, actually) than I do. A month or so ago, we were sitting around drinking wine, duh, and decided we should have a Sauvignon Blanc Blind Taste Test, with bottles from all over the world.

The next morning I woke up and remembered we had discussed this genius idea, so I text my friend and from that point, it was on. My best friend was going to prepare the meal (she's an amazing cook!), and her husband, Brian, was going to provide two bottles. I was also to provide two bottles & was put in charge of one non-NZ bottle, and of course, an NZ label. Brian works for a very well known winery here in the Seattle area, and admittedly doesn't drink a lot of NZ wine, contrary to my overly-expressed love for it. The only bottle I've ever heard him talk about kindly was Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, which he had been raving about for more than 6 months, but I had yet to try it. I had picked up a bottle recently but hadn't had a chance to drink it yet, so when we decided we'd have this taste test, I knew just the bottle to bring.

The evening was set...lots of wine, an amazing (all homemade) menu of Arugula Fennel & Apple Salad, Crab Cakes with Tarter Sauce, and Creme Brulee for dessert, brown paper bags to hide the bottles & tasting sheets for notes. Brian and I were supposed to bring two bottles each, but he went crazy and purchased four bottles, making it six. We were in for a fun night!
Arugula, Fennel & Apple Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette. 

Homemade fresh lump crab cakes with homemade tarter sauce!!
My dinner plate!! Delicious!

Dessert: Homemade Creme Brulee. If you have a torch, it is so fun! 

I won't bore you with the details of the majority of the bottles, but I will say we had ones from Chile, France (two from France, oops!), Washington, California and New Zealand (pictured below). The only two I am going to discuss are the New Zealand and Washington, as most of us didn't care for the other four bottles (although Chile & California opened by day two and were much better!).

Brian wanted us to have the best time possible, so he volunteered to bag the wines for us, so we could enjoy ourselves without cheating!

The New Zealand wine came up 5th in the tasting, and I knew from the first sip (even though this was my first time trying that particular bottle) that the wine I was drinking was New Zealand wine! (When I found out at the end, I was so proud of myself for getting that right...I really do love NZ Sauv Blanc!) The notes on the nose were strong with lychee and honey, fresh apricot, pear, and melon. It had a creamy taste, with a tropical, citrus flavor, full of tart apple and sweet pears. It wasn't too sweet, a very delicate balance of citrus, sweet fruit and crisp flavors.

ABV: 13%
Vintage: 2011
Price: Approx $15-$20
Winemaker: Sam Smail
Suggest Food Pairings: Summer Salads, Poultry & Shellfish such as Green Lipped Mussels, Lobster & White Fish
-Best White Wine Buy of the Year - Michael Cooper's NZ Guide to Wine 2012
-Blue-Gold Medal & Top 100 Wine - Sydney International Wine Show 2012
-Gold Medal - Selections Mondiales Des Vins - Canada 2012
-Gold Medal - International Aromatic Wine Competition 2011

The other wine worth a quick shout out was the Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc from Washington. It had great flavor, and was the 2nd best wine next to the NZ bottle, and by far better than most of the others.

So, if you're craving a new dinner party idea to mix it up a bit, I'd suggest trying your own Blind Tasting night. Choose whatever varietal, region, year, etc. you want, assign everyone something, plan an awesome menu and enjoy (and if you have a teenager in the house or someone who doesn't drink, have them bag the wines for you so you all can enjoy the night!).

Although we don't necessarily have to do it blindly, I think we are going to try an organic themed wine night next...see if we can find some great organic wines (if you've ever tried to, you know it can be difficult!). If you do have your own party, share in the comments below your chosen theme, menu choices and how it goes! Cheers!

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