It is once again time to tackle the tower of tiny bottles I have amassed over the last few months. While initially a bit perturbed by this trend that surfaced during the pandemic (it makes much more sense to me to taste a wine over the course of a meal or evening), I have almost come to the point where I am ready to embrace the idea (how is that for a string of qualifiers?). If nothing else, it enables me to taste a bunch more wines. Rationalization at its best?
This is pretty simple: if there is a wine geek in your life, and they do not already know about Master the World™ you now have the perfect gift to get them this year. A couple of months ago, I took part in seven tastings with the great people at Master the World™ and I can’t express enough how valuable the experience was. I learned so much about wine in general, the regions explored, the individual wines and wineries included.
The concept is really brilliant, in my opinion, as the fine folks at Master the World™ take wines from around the world and, after verifying that the wines are not flawed in any way, transfer the wines into smaller, 187ml bottles which they then group six bottles together under a common theme. It might be a region, a variety, a producer, you name it, Evan Goldstein (Master Sommelier) and Limeng Stroh (Co-founder and CEO) have found myriad ways to link wines to make very compelling tasting kits.
On top of all of that, the wines arrive blind–their identities are hidden so you can taste the wines without any preconceived notions or bias. “But wait, there’s more.” Master the World™ also provides both a video where industry leaders, including several Master Sommeliers, discuss the wines and an online evaluation tool that walks you through the entire process.
So far, so, so good. But my unabashed endorsement of Master the World also comes with a caveat: be ready to be humbled. Such was the case this past week as I finally got to one of the kits that I had not yet opened. The tasting took place several weeks ago, but I had a bit of a family emergency and could not attend the Zoom and taste the wines.
I remembered that this tasting kit (254C for those keeping track at home) focused on Sauvignon Blanc, but that was about all I remembered. Even though it is far from my favorite variety, I have been known to throw Sauvignon Blanc some love from time to time.
This first bottle certainly had all the characteristics of Sauvignon, and with all the fruit and solid acidity, this clearly screamed “New World” to me. It also had a bit of the grassy element that one associates with New Zealand SB. So that is what I went with.
2021 Haras de Pirque Sauvignon Blanc Albaclara, Maipo Valley, Chile: Retail $15. Master the World tasting Kit 254C. Brilliant, clear, light straw to yellow color in the glass with oodles of citrus fruit (key lime, lemon, and grapefruit) along with tree (white peach) and exotic (kiwi and passion) fruit. There is also a vegetal/herbal aspect with salad greens and jalapeño, and a decided mineral/salinity note that I really like in Sauvignon. Lean and tart on the palate, with relatively high acid, a bit of depth, and an above-average finish. Overall a solid effort. Very Good. 89 Points.
The second wine, while still having a ton of fruit and tartness, seemed much less “grassy” to me. Still “New World” for sure, but this time I opted for a region a little closer to home: California.
2021 Luis Felipe Edwards Sauvignon Blanc Marea de Leyda Single Vineyard, Chile: Retail $25. Master the World tasting Kit 254C. Brilliant and clear in the glass with light yellow color and some green highlights. Plenty of fresh and ripe citrus (pink grapefruit and key lime) along with hints of tree (green apple), tropical (kiwi, papaya), and stone (white peach) fruit. Lean, tart, and dry with above-average acidity and a healthy amount of alcohol, this is another lovely Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, but for the price? There are numerous less-expensive wines that foot the bill. Very Good. 89 Points.
Two Chilean wines right off the bat? What are those crazy kids at Master the World trying to prove? Oh well, onto the third. This was clearly my favorite wine of the flight, but it was far more subtle than the first two. Sure, there is fruit, but it is much less in your face, more, dare I say “Old World”? So that is where I went: Loire Valley France with my guess.
Uh, no. Chile again. OK, I get it now.
2020 Matetic Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc EQ Coastal, Casablanca, Chile: Retail $20. Master the World tasting Kit 254C. I have had a few wines now from this prominent Chilean producer and on the whole, I have been impressed. This is another vote in the “yes!” column. A brilliant, clear light straw-colored wine with green highlights, this is rather majestic in the glass. A similar fruit profile that I have seen in Chilean SB: citrus (grapefruit), tree (green apple), tree (peach), and tropical (papaya) fruit, but this wine seems to be a notch above its brethren with an intense richness on the nose. The palate is dry, with high levels of tartness and complexity, all leading to a lengthy finish. Listen, you could do a whole lot worse at this price point, but why on earth would you? Excellent. 92 Points.
So it took me the first three wines to get on board, but by the fourth wine, I realized the kit was not just all Sauvignon Blanc, but they were all from Chile. My deduction score improved greatly with these three wines as a result.
2020 Morandé Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $20. Master the World tasting Kit 254C. Reading some of the reviews online after writing my own, had me a bit worried–I was not nearly as enthralled as others were with this wine. Clear, brilliant, light straw in the glass with pink grapefruit, tangerine, and yellow plum predominate on the nose, there were also notes of mineral, celery root, and turned clay. The palate was a bit of a disappointment, I have to say, despite the high acidity–the fruit was just lacking for me. Oh well, onto the next. Very Good. 87 Points.
2020 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Sauvignon Blanc Escudo Rojo Reserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $19. Master the World tasting Kit 254C. Another brilliant, clear, light straw Sauvignon from Casablanca in Chile. With this fifth bottle in the kit, I think I am recognizing the similarities (finally?). Tons of citrus (grapefruit) and tree (green apple) fruit with apple blossom notes on the backend of the nose. The palate is dry but rather round, as it is actually (and surprisingly) a bit on the flabby side. Again, I think there are better options at this price point. Very Good. 88 Points.
2021 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile: Retail $12. Master the World tasting Kit 254C. Another big producer with a near-ubiquitous wine that is often priced at under ten bucks (usually around $8). Despite its low price and being slammed by some critics, I think there is some real value here. Bright, tart, good fruit, I really had a hard time finding anything to dislike. Is it the best Sauvignon blanc on the planet? No, but you could buy half a case of this for the price of what some of the top SB go for. Excellent. 90 Points.