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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"

Getting Double Blind with the 1998 Gibbston Estate Pinot Noir
© Murray Almond
16 September 2001

The other night I presented the 1998 Gibbston Estate Pinot Noir from Central Otago double blind to my tasting buddies. The term "Double Blind" means that it's is poured with no clues as to it's identity. Many tastings, particularly press tastings, take place "Single Blind", this is where the grape variety and potentially the region and/or the vintage is disclosed. The American "Wine Spectator" magazine claims to conduct it's tasting this way. It's said that this aids the assessment and scoring of the wines.

The double blind tasting is tough, because your own preconceptions may colour your assessment of the wine. You may dismiss an unwooded Chardonnay of good quality when you mistake it for a Riesling. I say 'you' as I would never make that mistake, remember, you can trust me, I'm a wine lover.

So to the Gibbston Estate, which had come highly recommended. My notes read: Nice pure Pinot character, nice earthy characters, brick red on the nose. Nice bit of farmyard aromas. A little bit ripe, but not overly so. Perhaps too young to drink just yet. Should show some great characters at about 5-8 years. It's got true class, and showing far better varietal and regional characteristics than the Te Kairanga Reserve tasted a while back, which would compete in the same market here in Australia.

My colleagues; tasting it double blind, were mixed in opinions, a couple thought it was Shiraz, and it did show some characteristics of cool climate shiraz. Once the Pinot Noir was pointed out all agreed that it was a not French, and were not greatly surprised that it was a NZ Pinot Noir.

Tasting Double Blind is tough, try it on your colleagues and get them to score the wine, then unmask the wine and ask them if they wish to change their score. At that time the point of perception versus reality comes into pretty sharp focus.

© Murray Almond
16 September 2001

Send comments to Murray at fromtheleftisland@yahoo.com.au

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E-mail me: winetaster@clear.net.nz