…spontaneously fermenting

Blind taste that wine again please

I recently had a guest at Jacob’s Bar & Kjøkken. This guest was somewhat of a wine person. This means for the sake of this story that this guest was very wine interested and belonged to a sophisticated wine-tasting group that regularly meets and tastes some pretty darn good, and valuable, wines. They do this in the comfort of their home(s) and are  not often seen out and about at the well-known wine spots in the city.

I poured a small taste of something, blind. I had never met this guest, and I am always interested to hear their analysis because it helps me to gauge their knowledge and palate.  I returned after a few minutes to hear this guest’s impressions about the splash of wine I had poured. This is always interesting for me, especially with “knowledgeable” people. After the analysis, I poured another small glass… and then another, and then another.  One thing struck me about this guest’s comments. On each and every wine, the comment “well, the wine has these balsamic notes, so I assume it’s natural.  And these balsamic notes cover the fruit, so it’s very difficult to get the fruit, and therefore analyze the wine correctly to come to any kind of  conclusion. ” Of course he knew where he was and also knew the wines would be natural, so no points there.

No, it wasn’t the first time (and it won’t be the last) that I heard such comments. I  often hear that it is hard to blind taste natural wines cause they all kind of smell and taste the same. Remember when you first started to taste wines and try to distinguish the difference? They pretty much all tasted similar, right? Until 100’s of wines later, you started to get it…

IMHO, blind tasting natural wines is all about retraining the senses and the brain. Those of us who have studied wine or have been tasting it for years, were very likely taught to blind taste “conventional wines”. I am not making a judgement here about the quality of these wines, just an observation, and actually a fact when it came to my education.  And, just like having to train that brain to blind taste that first time, you have to do it again. With some training, you can also begin to blind taste (correctly I might add) natural wines, as I often do.

So, when you are starting to blind taste natural wines, please give it some time and stop saying that you are not able to because it’s natural and it smell like the others. This is nonsense and you know it.

Category: 1 WINE, Blind taste that wine again please, natural wine (100% living wine)


A tasting note: 1983 Domaines Schlumberger Saering Riesling Grand Cru

72DPI 300PX Grand Cru Saering - Domaines Schlumberger

The Saering Grand Cru vineyards cover 27 hectares of which 20 are owned by Schlumberger. Varies in height from 260-300 meters. Approximately 40hl/ha yield.

Domaines Schlumberger

100, Rue Théodore Deck
68501 Guebwiller Cedex
Alsace, France
Phone:  +33 (0)3 89 74 27 00

A little information about the Saering Grand Cru Riesling:

“This “terroir” slips down the mountain side and extends like a peninsula over the plain, forming the shape of a ring. These plains were covered by great oceans over one thousand million years ago. And so the Searing earned it’s nickname “the sea ring”. “Ring” was also employed to talk about a Roman Camp “Seh” comes from “sehen” (meaning “to see” in German); and it is now proved that an observation camp was indeed erected there. The stony and rather heavy soils of this Grand Cru are perfect for Riesling growing. Saering was first mentioned in 1250 and marketing began under this name in 1830.” (from the Schlumberger website)

Date tasted: Tasted blind (involves tasting and evaluating wines without any knowledge of their identities) on June 14th, 2009 19:00 (7:00pm)

These are my tasting notes exactly as I wrote them the time of the blind tasting:


Appearance: Dark golden yellow.  Some development showing, but not much browning of the edges.  Medium to medium plus intensity.  Clean

Nose: Clean? On the nose, hard to tell if this is a good bottle or not, or over the hill.   Slightly oxidized, with hints of caramelized lemons.  Herbs and hints of petrol and minerals. Really ripe yellow apples, especially the core of the apple. I am guessing Alsace or Germany right off the bat based on the nose. We  are tasting this wine blind, so with the slight oxididative notes, we aren’t sure.

Palate: Dry. Medium to Medium plus acid. Good concentration. Salty hints. Quite developed. Guessing to be at least 10-15 years of age.  Quite a bit of weight. I’m thinking Pinot Blanc because of the hefty weight of the wine on the palate. Many people from this group are thinking it’s a Chardonnay, but the acidity is too high and it is not weighty enough in my opinion.

19:40 (7:40pm):

hints of that saltiness are still there. Smells a bit like blue cheese.


Nobody took this wine (that is nobody managed to guess what it was they were drinking), but many were in the Chardonnay camp. I of course didn’t peg this either. My guess was Alsace or Southern Germany and ultimately guessed Pinot Blanc.

The acidity was quite high, but not as a high as what I would have expected from a Riesling.  Of course, this wine was 26 years old, so the acidity had softened quite a bit, making it a bit harder to peg.  It didn’t help that I guessed this wine to be only 15 years old due to the overall freshness. It also had a bit more weight than a Riesling and hence I landed on Pinot Blanc – a grape that in blind tastings can be confused with the Chardonnay, or at times even Riesling.

I did notice hints of petrol on the nose as I indicated in my tasting notes, but age can play tricks on a wine and even other grapes besides Riesling can gain hints of  what we call “petrol” as they age, especially wines high in minerality.

We should all blind taste as it excercises a part of the brain that we don’t often use and can help us to better understand what is in the glass.  Plus it’s fun!


Category: 1 WINE, 3 TASTING NOTES, Alsace, France, Guebwiller

1 comment



Vinosseur is the company name of sommelier Joseph R. Di Blasi. is his web page where he writes about wine, food, restaurants and other gastronomic experiences.

Joseph has a special place in his heart for quality wines from the old world, especially France & Italy, with a strong focus on Organic, Biodynamic and Natural wines.

Joseph grew up in Italy and California, but left The States in 2002 and now resides in Poland.

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