Fine wines with friends: the joy of tasting blind whatever people bring along

Notes from a gathering of wine trade friends at Christina Rasmussen’s place, with Rajat Parr as an overseas guest. These wines were mostly tasted blind and notes are as written. No plan: we all just bought interesting bottles.

Wyngaard Dassemus Ceci n’est pas Vin Orange 2021 Netherlands
9.5% alcohol. Full orange colour. Lively aromatics of pear and mango, with a nice fruity character and a touch of grip. Nice pear fruit but also a whiff of men’s toilets at a football game. Lots of interest. 90/100

Sadie T’Voetpad 2020 Swartland, South Africa
The oldest vines in South Africa, planted in 1887. Rich and textured with a lovely saline twist, some creaminess and a bit of peach. This has depth and lively crystalline characters. Such precision: ripe but well balanced. 96/100

The Alley Palomino 2019 Contra Costa County, California
This is made by Christina Rasmussen from a vineyard planted in 1935, and was fermented and aged in a single used barrel from Konsgaard. Textured and fresh with sweet pear and green apple characters. Grainy, with a chalky edge, and a subtle saline twist. This is supple and very refined with good balance and fine acidity. 95/100

Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard Chardonnay 2014 Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
This is the sleeper in the Villa Maria single-vineyard portfolio, and it showed so well blind. Classic mineral-edge White Burgundy taste-alike. Mineral and spicy with pear and apple fruit, some matchstick/flint notes and good precision, with a slight sweetness on the finish. The oak is really well integrated. 95/100

Equipo Navazos La Bota de Vino Blanco 2010 Jerez, Spain
Nuts and apples as well as some candy notes, with good acidity. Lively, mineral and salty with some lovely apple and pear characters. So crystalline and tangy, with flor character evident. Lovely depth. 95/100

Eulogio Pomares Carolcoba Caiño Tinto 2017 Rias Baixas, Spain
Taut and bright with lovely crisp cherry and redcurrant fruit. Very pure, showing good acidity. Some sour cherry here. Very pure and fine with a sense of brightness, but also a lovely firm structured edge with high acidity and some grip. Sensational. 95/100

António Maçanita Tinta Negra dos Villões 2021 Madierense, Portugal
From Porto Fino, and island close to Madeira. Light, fresh and expressive with pure redcurrant and red cherry fruit with a nice mineral tension. So pure and fine with good brightness. Expressive, but also polished and pure. 94/100

Sadie Soldaat 2021 Citrusdal, South Africa
Juicy, ripe and fresh with supple red cherry and plum fruit. Light and expressive on the palate with lovely raspberry and cherry fruit. This has nice acidity with finesse and subtle redcurrant notes. Fine crystalline spicy notes on the finish as well as some leafy greenness. 96/100

Pax Sonoma-Hillsides Syrah 2019 Sonoma County, California
100% whole bunch. Roast meat, pepper and sweet black fruits. Textural and fine with really nice mineral complexity adding interest to the sweet black cherry and blackberry fruit, with the peppery notes adding a lot of interest. Very fine. 96/100

Badenhorst John Strikes Again Under a Veil of Good Fortune NV Swartland, South Africa
So tangy and bright with apple, pear, spice and honey. Broadt and textured with hints of raisin and spice. Such precision but also lots of richness: a lovely wine. 94/100

Terre de L’Elu Espérance Pineau d’Aunis 2021 Anjou, France
13% alcohol. So fine and peppery. Bright, mineral, juicy redcurrant and red cherry fruit with a silky texture and lovely polish. Elegant and refined, this is a stellar example of Pineau d’Aunis. 96/100

Scythians Lopez Vineyard Palomino 2021 Cucamonga Valley, California
From a 1918-planted vineyard near Los Angeles, this is fermented and aged in sherry barrels from Ramiro Ibanez, and these aren’t topped up for 6 months to allow flor to grow. The result is a remarkable wine with a tangy, savoury nose showing oyster shell, pear and spicy apple. The palate is lively and mineral, tangy and vital, with a fine spiciness and a lovely tension. 96/100