Blind tasting identifies: Top 10 affordable wines

Sixty wines, three hours, 10 winners.  


Those were the numbers in a blind wine tasting recently staged at Ortanique in Camana Bay, hosted by the restaurant’s Maître de Vin Christian Esser. 

Representatives from all five Cayman distributors, along with representatives from several restaurants, served as judges to chose the Top 10 wines selling for $25 or under. 

There were 10 wine categories, with 60 wines sampled from noon to 3 p.m. – 35 before lunch, and 25 after.  

“Some people were in a pretty good mood and didn’t want to leave,” laughs Esser. 

The judges rated each wine on appearance, nose, palate and finish, awarding each on a 20-point scale. While the majority of wines were close in points, the entry in the sparkling wine category won hands down – the Zardetto Prosecco Doc Treviso Brut. 

The goal of a blind tasting is to provide impartial judgment of a wine. Seeing the label or shape of the bottle can influence a taster’s opinion, says Esser. 

“If you see the label, you already have a perception. If you take it out of the picture, it helps determine which wine is actually the best and which one is the best value for $25.”  

The blind tasting gives those in the industry a chance to taste and evaluate the wines they are selling or serving. 

“It is interesting when they try their own wine, how they rate them and what they think about them,” notes Esser. “Some were surprised.” 

Judges included representatives from Tortuga Wine and Spirits, Premier Wines and Spirits, Seven Fathoms Rum, Jacques Scott Wines and Spirits, Cayman Distributors, Ortanique, Agua and the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa. 


Top 10 wines for $25 and under:  


Sparkling Wine  

Zardetto Prosecco  

Prosecco Doc Treviso Brut 


Made from 100 percent Glera grapes, this Zardetto exhibits true varietal character. Crystal clear with a hearty white foam and fine perlage, it delivers fresh fragrant aromas and a delicately soft and harmonious taste – the hallmarks of this quintessential aperitif wine. An ideal pairing with shellfish, white meats and fresh cheeses.  

Pinot Grigio 

Tomassi 2011 


This moon yellow wine has a clean and spicy aroma, typical hints of tropical fruit. It is medium-bodied with a clean, round and soft taste and a crisp finish. 


Sauvignon Blanc  

Kim Crawford 2012 

New Zealand 

Amazingly powerful aromas, distinctively Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Lemon meringue pie, sweet passion fruit, melon and tropical fruits with hints of crushed tomato leaf. Intense complex flavors of citrus balanced with ripe tropical fruits of passion fruit and white peach. Crisp acidity and a lingering finish round out this stunning wine. 



Benziger 2012 

Sonoma County, California 

This is a bright, clean wine with excellent balance between fruit and structure. Flavors include ripe peach and pear with notes of vanilla. Barrel aging contributes a round, satisfying mouthfeel with subtle, toasty oak notes. Benziger uses all organic and biodynamic practices in their vineyards. 


Interesting Whites  

Riesling Schmitges 2012 


This classic dry Mosel Riesling with juicy, ripe orchard fruits and a refreshing stony finish is a delectable treat. White peaches open on a palate with chappy acidity and a clean streak of minerals. This white is best enjoyed in the great outdoors among friends, especially over BBQ pork sausages. 


Pinot Noir  

Maycas del Limari 2010 


This medium-intensity ruby red wine has aromas of raspberries, blueberries, and red and black berries, with subtle notes of vanilla and hazelnut. On the palate, it is oily, with soft and velvety tannins and an amazing freshness and minerality. 



Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 

Washington state 

A great “any day” wine, it’s smooth and pleasant but still complex for such a value. Aromas of cedar and spice mingle with flavors of cherry, dark red fruits and a long, lingering jammy finish that hints at subtle chocolate notes. A truly delicious, easy drinking red wine. 


Cabernet Sauvignon  

Maycas del Limari 2007 


This bright ruby red wine has complex aromas of black currants, blueberries and cherries, along with spicy notes and touches of chocolate and coffee. Its flavor is gentle and soft, with full-bodied density, and a fresh and long pleasant persistence.


Interesting Reds  

Piedra Roja 2006 


This brilliant, attractive, intense red-cherry color, with a hint of purple in the rim, has a complex nose, showing an abundance of mature red fruits over a spicy backbone. The wine sits well in the mouth and again shows red fruits. Ripe tannins lend structure, though the wine also maintains a refreshing level of acidity. It ends with a long and aromatic finish. 


Dessert Wine  

Schlossgobelsburg 2008 


Sweet wine is one of the estate’s specialties. Notes of pine and resin are extremely concentrated, with a bit of stewed apricots and muskmelon. The wine has a smooth, oily texture and is exceedingly complex with an array of fruit nuances from lychee to cumquat to peach punch. Rich and multi-faceted with a vibrant, invigorating fruit play. Plenty of meat and length. This wine requires a bit of patience. 


Agua sommelier Yannick Speicher judges one of the wines.