Round three- Taste (2 points).

(10 points would be a perfect score) 

highly acclaimed and spectacularly reviewed Italian wine, against one of our US favorites, really intrigued us. We usually bring bottles that we have tried and love, but we had zero idea if this contender was even good?! Plus, we had never done a BvB with a wine that was from out of the US, so we were venturing into uncharted territory.

There were a couple of Sangioveses from California, which we really love, that we were considering to be the opponent- Krupp Brothers was the first to come to mind, but they did not make a Sangio in 2015. Per our rules, both bottles need to be from the same vintage, so we moved to our second choice, Desparada. Then we hit another snag- the 2015 Desparada was not 100% Sangiovese. It had a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon in it, and for this battle, we really wanted both wines to be identical in their composition. Hmmm...what to do? We decided to start from scratch and try a different vintage. 2013 was the last vintage of Sangio that Krupp Brothers made, which we love and had in our cellar, but it turns out that wasn't 100% Sangiovese either. We also had a 2013 Sangio from Desparada on hand, and THAT was 100% Sangiovese. Yes!

Okay, so now all we had to do was see if we could track down a 2013 bottle of the Il Carbonaione, and sure enough we found one. The 2013 vintage was also given a 97 point rating from the same acclaimed wine critic,
James Suckling, as well as very high scores and rave reviews across the board, from the other three big wine critics (Wine Advocate; Wine Spectator; and Vinous).
Bottle vs. Bottle #9 was ready to go down.....   


It was now time to reveal to John what the wines were, and so the bags came off. "Wine A" was the Desparada.

"Wine B" was the Il Carbonaione.

John was quite surprised in what he saw! 

1.) Because he really didn't anticpate that any of the wines would be from outside of the US. After all, this had never been the case in prior matchups. And 2.) John was also quite shocked at how good a Sangio from Paso was! He had never had either of the two wines before, and he liked the


The Premise:

Remember the Pepsi Challenge?! We'll we thought we'd do the same thing, only with wine!

We thought that it would be fun to take two wines that we really love, and put them up against each other in a blind tasting. To be fair, the wines must be of the same varietal; in the same price range; served at the same temperature; and in the same type of glass. Our "competitors" will usually be from different wineries, but occasionally they might be the exact same wine, just different vintages. They could even be the same brand and vintage, but from different vineyards. Make sure to follow us on either Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter to stay posted on when our next match up will be!


Since score sheets are covered and none of the judges knew yet how either of the other two judges scored the wines, Nicole and John were quite surprised to find that their score sheets were completely identical: "Wine A" - 7; "Wine B" - 3. Michael's score sheet differed a little from the others by the round, but his final overall score was quite similar: "Wine A" - 8; "Wine B" - 2.

Since we were bringing both bottles, they were stored in the same wine fridge and had the identical, proper serving temperature. Sangiovese should be served at 61°F., per our wine temp serving chart. Both bottles were placed in brown bags prior to our arrival, to hide their identities from John. We popped and poured the wines and proceeded with round one; first judging the color, which sometimes for this, they are so similar that you probably could just toss a coin. Still, it ended up that all judges had the same choice, which was "Wine B." Next it was time to judge the aroma, and for this round, the wines couldn't have smelled more different from

each other. "Wine A" was very pleasant on the nose, bursting with fruit, while "Wine B" was a bit musty and less fruity; not that the nose was bad, just very different; more herbaceous. All three judges were in sync again, this time going with "Wine A." Everything stayed consistent when it came down to the taste as well, with all three judges unanimously also going with "Wine A."

with 100% certainty. Neither wine seemed to have a higher alcohol percentage that the other.

Perhaps after an hour decant, it would become more clear?

As the wine decanted in preparation for round two, we looked over the menu to figure out what our food pairings would be for the third round? Sangiovese, of course pairs very well with Italian food, and it just so happened that a couple of Rustic Kitchen's April specials were Angel Hair Pasta, as well as Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta. Yes please! There was also a Wedge Salad on the menu that caught our eye, so we ordered that, as well. John decided that he wanted to have one of the other specials that they had, which was an Oven Roasted Artichoke; he also opted to have their Angus Rib-Eye for his main course.

The food arrived and thus it was time for the final round, which is strictly a matter of which wine each judge felt paired the best with their meals. It was now that things changed a bit. Both John and Nicole flip-flopped and went with "Wine B." For them, "B" complimented their meals much better and really brought out flavor profiles in the food that perhaps were a little overpowered by the brightness of "Wine A." Michael, on the other hand, was on the fence, but in the end decided that he was going to stick with the wine that he felt tasted best from the get-go, "Wine A."

Anyway, this email (and wine) now had our attention, and thus we purchased a bottle of the 2015 Podere Poggio Scalette, Il Carbonaione, that they were advertising. We were long overdue for a new BvB, and had been talking about doing a Sangiovese match-up for a while. We hadn't had very many Italian Sangios in our lifetime, and we definitely had never had this particular one before, but the idea of putting this

As usual, we contacted our regular guest judge, Level 2 Sommelier and owner of our BvB venue, Rustic Kitchen, John Fanaris. We decided to add a little twist though to this competition- we weren't going to tell John anything about the contenders other than that they were both Sangiovese.

The reason for this was because John is very well-versed in

Scoring in each category is as follows:

Round one- Aroma (1 point), Color (1 point), Taste (2 points).

Round two- Aroma (1 point), Taste (3 points)

wines from all over the world, and frankly, we had no idea if by John seeing where the bottles were from, it would make it easy for him to know which was which? For this reason, we decided that John's scorecard would be taken higher in consideration than either of ours.

CHALLENGE #9 :  April 18th, 2019


So here's a little story about how this edition of Bottle vs. Bottle came to be- it's probably needless to say that we get solicitation emails on a regular basis from wineries and wine stores all over.

And so, BvB #9 ended up being the most lopsided contest ever. A little misleading perhaps, because it really wasn't that one wine far exceeded the other; they were just so different.  Although both wines were 100% Sangiovese, they were clearly as distinct in style and taste, as they were from the terroir that they came from...and that's not a bad thing! In fact, it can be said that the Il Carbonaione was the better "food wine." Also, based on how the Il Carbonaione evolved after that one hour decant, it leaves us to wonder if the results would have been different if the decant was a little longer? Hmmmm..... well, we do still have that 2015 bottle! We might just have

John, Michael, and Nicole.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the alcohol content? The Desparada was a very high 15.6%, something you never would have guessed! The Il Carbonaione was significantly less at only 14%. Incidentally, we never bother to look at these percentages prior, since that could potentially give things away. In this case, however, as previously noted, it really wouldn't have helped!

Desparada so much that he ended up scheduling a Desparada wine dinner at Rustic Kitchen shortly thereafter.... and of course, their Sangiovese was one of the wines being poured!

The Rules:

1.) Each bottle will be stored at the same temperature until serving time.

2.) Each bottle will be poured into identical decanters marked "A" & "B" (a third party will do this so that the judges do not know which is which).

3.) ROUND 1- A glass of each wine will be served immediately from the decanter and judged on its aroma, color, and taste. Each judge will mark which of the two they preferred in each category on their individual score sheets, without letting the other judge(s) know their choices.

4.) ROUND 2- After one hour of decanting, another glass of each wine will be poured for the judges and again judged again, but only on aroma and taste (ie. no color judging in this round), without letting the other judge(s) know their choices.

5.) ROUND 3- A food dish will then be served to pair with the wines, and the judges will secretly score which of the two wines they felt paired best.

6.) The judges will tally their individual score sheets and reveal their respective winner.

Now perhaps you are wondering if with the night-and-day differences in both nose and taste, Nicole and Michael were able to figure out which wine was the Desparada? Well, one clue that we had was that we knew that Desparada's winemaker, Vailia From, does tend to make her wines with a high alcohol content. Seems like that could be quite a tell, right? Nope! Vailia is very good at hiding the alcohol in her wines! So much for that clue! Because of the boldness, we both had our hunches that it was "Wine A," but as far as the alcohol, which was hidden well, we really just couldn't tell you


Click on image to enlarge  sample score sheet. >>> 

One of those places is The Wine House in Los Angeles- a place that we frequently buy wine from. Well on this particular day, we received an email from there, advertising one of their "hidden gems," and the subject line of the email read, "97 point our lowest price ever!"

If you follow us on Instagram, then you already know that we LOVE Sangiovese! But, also, if you are familiar with us, then you know that we mostly drink wines from the US. The reason for the latter fact is simply because we have been slowly educating and familiarizing ourselves with wine, and let's face it- there is a TON of it out there! We are trying to advance one step at a time, and we decided that we should first start with regions that are close by, and then begin to branch out. Obviously, getting on a plane and traveling to a foreign country is a much bigger commitment (both in time and money) than hopping in our car and heading up the coast for a few hours. However, we will eventually get to Europe and continue our education process, learning from the

Once the hour decant was up, John poured us a second glass of each wine, and things got a little more interesting. While the powerful aroma of "Wine A" had settled down a little, the nose on "Wine B" had completely changed. It no longer really had that mustiness, and notes of fruit had really flourished. For Nicole and John it hadn't improved enough to surpass "Wine A," but Michael found the improvement so noticeable that he decided to give the edge to "Wine B." When it came to the taste, however, all three judges were still on the same page and chose "Wine A."

to get back to you on that!



As always, Wine Problems would like to thank John & Noelle Fanaris, and the fantastic staff at Rustic Kitchen. Please go check out this market, café, and wine bar- the food is great, and they have an awesome wine selection!

Rustic Kitchen is located at:

3523 S. Centinela Ave.   Los Angeles, CA., 90066

Phone: (310) 390-1500.

Vailia From

locals in their respective homelands!