So maybe the title is a little bit grand! If you are an oenophile hoping to discover the inside story of Kazakh wines, stop reading now!
My friend Mr A (I will protect his identity in order to maintain his social credibility) and I decided that the majority of expats were buying the same group of wines at the same shop (I could stretch it to shops) without ever really doing any proper evaluation of the relative quality and quantity. What was desperately needed was a blind tasting by some of the best palates in Atyrau, and full disclosure of the results.
Well, that was a good idea but really challenged our resources, so we got a few friends together after work on Friday, for a blind tasting, and are broadcasting the results to the world in this blog. (It may get 20 readers, if we ask the participants to read it too!)
But if you are reading be prepared for an insightful expose of a select group of wines in Kazakhstan.
So Mr A and I met in the wine section of Ram Store. We want about ten bottles in the KZT2,000 ($13) bracket of cabernet or cabernet blends, since most people drink reds, and this is the most common imported grape variety.
The blind tasting would be on Friday evening after work. There would be a number of very hungry hard working tasters, so I thought that a few palate cleansing wafers, or a couple of crusts of bread would be appropriate but highly unpopular. Instead some blue cheese and celery, mini quiches and other mild palate cleansers were offered.
Now here is one of those interesting Atyrau facts....there appear to be no brown paper bags in the city. There is no reason why a city needs paper bags, and in fact it is probably better without them if plastic isn't used instead, but they do not exist in Atyrau. So the wines were wrapped in red silvery present wrapping paper to give them their appropriate anonymity.
People arrived, tired and hungry. But Mr A and I were hard task masters, no food or drink except water until business was taken care of. Our rather cramped dining room was made less cramped by a couple of no-shows who un-arrived without explanation or apology. But it meant we had sufficient chairs.
There was no tasting order, people started where they wanted. This was necessary because not even I knew which wine was in which wrapper.
As people helped themselves to samples, the room was filled with the sound of slurping and groaning. "Wine Appreciation" was not a term that sprung to mind. Scoring was to be from 1 (bad) to 10 (great). Mr A had produced a good score sheet, which I sabotaged by introducing an extra wine at the last minute, but it worked.
One taster commented that after tasting the first couple of wines she would have to raise their scores because the third was too bad to fit on the scale....and I am afraid that that was the sentiment of much of the tasting.
We did sneak in a couple of local wines. Unfortunately we couldn't read the labels so were not sure what we were getting and not unsurprisingly ended up with sweet wines.
So this was the line-up with the prices we paid.
B&G MEDOC KPACHOE KZT 3,250.00 $21.65
TRIVENTO MIXTUS CABERNET MERLOT Argentina KZT 1,300.00 $8.66
TALL HORSE CABERNET South Africa KZT 1,589.00 $10.58
SUNRISE CABERNET Chile KZT 1,589.00 $10.58
FRONTERA CABERNET Chile KZT 1,105.00 $7.36
АЛАЗАНИ СТОЛ.КР Kazakhstan KZT 975.00 $6.49
B&G V.P.D’OC CABERNET France KZT 2,315.00 $15.42
RESERVE CABERNET MOLDOVA Moldova KZT 750.00 $5.00
CASILLERO DEL DIABLO CABERNET Chile KZT 2,000.00 $13.32
A now to the distiguished tasters...
And as to the result. The line up goes from left to right.
The conclusion: Well I think you will have to form your own, but I will go for the Frontera again and avoid the Moldovan Cab!