Battle of the Grapes

Following our gin event, we reverted back to wine, but this was a tasting like no other we’ve hosted before, where although we knew which wines were being served, we covered the labels leaving everyone else guessing! Each wine was numbered, and the guests had different scorecards on which they could rate the wine out of 10. From the four wines tried, the one with the most points would go up against a wine of TNB’s choice in a decider of the nights grapest (it needed to be said, so we said it).

Like our last event where it was Michela’s first time leading the night, this time it was Kevin’s turn to take the reins and as the night progressed, the conversations traversed from table to table instead of each person sticking to their own packs, possibly owing to Diar il-Bniet’s unique Maltese atmosphere where you just feel at home…and a couple of glasses of red really set the mood too.

The smile of a man enjoying the moment and opportunity.

Before delving into the wines tasted, an interesting point is that since it was a blind tasting, the participants were a lot more willing to put forward their opinions, even those joining for the first time or who had not been to similar events before. From that alone, we were thrilled that they had the confidence to voice their thoughts – that’s the main reason for this group, to give non-connoisseurs the space to do just that, and from the bottom of our bottles, we salute you.

Kicking things off was the Montepulciano grape variety, a decent enough, easy-going grape and immediately had people talking amongst themselves, eager to discuss the notes they were picking up. Its final score on average made it a solid if not spectacular wine, but it does pair rather well with cured meats and aged cheeses if you’re ever in doubt. When some at first said that they were getting hints of chocolate, they were a bit self-sceptical, but were soon happy enough when they found out they were right, as this wine in particular carries hints of cocoa and cherries.

Starting nice and solid…

None of the wines tasted were as polarising as the second grape though, the Sangiovese grape from Montepulciano. Whilst the general consensus was that it was a lighter wine, maybe better to start dinner with, the rating ranged between nine and below five to say the least. We’ll best remember this grape when Kevin explained the difference between Montepulciano the grape, and Montepulciano the place: “It’s like saying Montepulciano equates to Qormi, and Sangiovese to San Ġorġ”. It got plenty of laughs, but it surely got the message across and into memory.

The Primitivo grape was third on our list, and people took an immediate liking to it; from its deep red/violet colour to the intensity of the aromas, we’ll be honest, we knew people we’re going love it. Better yet, it’s a pretty versatile wine that goes well with plenty of dishes, though mostly with red meats and game alike.

Versatile and a real crowd-pleaser, number three was indeed the magic number…

Grape number four, the Nebbiolo, had people comparing it to the first one, most likely due to the fruit-intense notes. Not on par with taste, but did place third over-all. For the emotions it created though, some people were already dreaming of sipping this wine in winter, next to a fireplace, maybe the light pattering of rain on the window, reading a decent book, soft jazz playing in the background……

But back to reality, this was also the opportunity to discuss the “unofficial star” of Italy: the rise of Super Tuscan wines, which “sacrificed” their DOCG label as they’re created using non-indigenous grapes; Merlot, Syrah and the Cabernet varieties. It was then, in 1992, that the ICG label was created to give winemakers creative freedom to produce new high-quality wines.

The real question is, “Wine not?”

Giving our guests some time to discuss all the wines tasted thus far; palate and nasal tones, colour and consistency and everything in between, we tallied up the last scores given, and concluded that the finalist to go up against wine number five would be numero tre, the Primitivo (chosen by 0.1 of a point for those of you who voted with your decimals…well done, we hope you’re happy).

Grape number five was a Barbera d’Alba variety, and caught everyone completely off guard and pleasantly so. With a perfect blend of spicy and sweet, complexity and smooth character, numero cinque was eventually chosen as the clear Grape King by a surprisingly big margin, as plenty of people loved the Primitivo.

Although November is set to be a quiet month for us, what with a bit of soul-searching and planning to come up with 2020 vision (sorry, we had to make that joke), December will see us host a whiskey tasting session, so make sure to keep tuned and block the date when its out! Until we drink together again, stay safe, happy Halloween and as always, have one on us.

For the record, this is how you should cast your vote.

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