There where five of us, six bottles of wine and lots of nibbles. We aren't purists when we do wine tastings. We consciously included some strong tastes (Stilton cheese) in our nibbles to get some idea of how these wines would stand up to food.
The wines are listed in the general order they were jointly ranked by the group. We had a mixture of opinions on exactly how herbaceous a Sauvignon Blanc should really be so the Sterling ranked at the top since it was the only wine everyone liked.
+ Sterling1996 (9.99) Here's a mouthful of Sauvignon Blanc, its blend of melon, grapefruit and hazelnut qualities sitting broadly on the palate, supported by a steely counterpoint. The is a wonderful compromise wine. Its basically a chardonnay style with just a few hints of Sauvignon's underlying character. I'd consider it an excellent cocktail wine. 1/2 case buy W.S 85
Rosemont 1996 Crisp, clean with an herbaceous undertone. If you like grassy SB you'll love this. The flavors weren't overwhelming and the wine was well balanced. It held up well to the cheese. It's exact ranking for the evening was in dispute between the Chard style contingent and the true SB contingent.
Robert Mondavi- Stags Leap-Unfiltered 1996 ($17.99) Definitely a Chardonnay style wine. A little more full bodied and complex than the Sterling. Based on the wine alone probably it's a tad better (in Donna's opinion), based on price, buy the Sterling.
Note from Donna: I loved this wine and if it weren't so pricey it would be a case buy.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 1997 ($11.99)-- Bright and refreshing for its mineral-scented apple flavors that linger softly. Great cocktail wine and good choice for a reasonably priced restaurant wine. The Sterling was just a touch better but it's hard to say why.
+Cain 1996 (18.99) An interesting wine. Very complex with a heavy dose of papaya. Stood up well to the Stilton cheese but most people found its taste simply too peculiar to be pleasant WS 90
+ Geyser Peak 1997 ( 9.99) In comparison to everything else we tasted at our party this wine was awful. This wine had received 4 stars in the press telegram. They'd said it was a consistently a top Sauvignon Blanc; that it had a softer and more elegant style (which usually is a euphemism for a chardonnay style SB), with pure and clean aromas of melon, grapefruit and fig. This wine won the Distilled essence of Grass Award for the Evening. On an absolute basis its probably not that bad but given the Sterling at the same price it's a DO NOT BUY.
Note: John and I tried a few of these wines several days later up against a turkey dinner. A few interesting facts seemed to develop. The first was that our choice of cheese ( a good stilton and a nice St. Andre triple crème) the night of the party was perfect to showcase the Sauvignon Blancs. Up against the rigors of turkey and cranberry sauce the Mondavi held it's own nicely and the Cain was good. The Sterling simply paled and became colored water. We also opened the 96 Markham so we could taste it up against the remnants of the previous wines. The Markham is much closer to the Rosemont. It survived the Turkey though it wouldn't be my first choice of a wine for that kind of dinner. On a relative basis if the Markham had been included the night of the party it probably would have taken the number one or two spot.