We all agreed that the wines were equally well made and that it was a case a of personal preference as to which one you liked more. Our verdicts (there were 6 of us, split down the middle.) Even the most experienced "wineaux" in the room didn't guess the regions correctly.
Pix below the cut:
Francis Ford Coppela Claret (2010) vs. Chateau La Tonnelle Haut-Medoc, 2009
The Claret drinks easier out of the bottle, but once the Haut-Medoc opens, up, it becomes a deliciously spicy wine with smoky notes that made me think of Lapsang Souchong. I happened to like the Claret's fruityness more (and it is not a fruit bomb), but I will say that the Haut-Medoc, once given 30 minutes of breathing is delicious, too. But before it breathes, it is bitter.
My friend who likes sweet wines actually liked the Haut-Medoc more after it opened up because she liked the way it felt in her mouth more. (It's a skoosh heavier than the Claret.)
Domaine De La Garenne Macon-Aze 2009 (White Burgundy) vs. Raymond Reserve Napa Chardonnay 2009
The Macon-Aze is unoaked, the Napa is oaked for 2 months. The Macon-Aze had a fruity nose with lots of green apple and lemon grass notes both in the nose and in the mouth. The Napa had a floral nose, a bit like Jasmine blossoms and was less zingy and minerally and it had a kiss of vanilla in the aftertaste. (It wasn't by any means buttery.)
Both of these wines went well with the Pasta in Alfredo sauce. I liked them both equally and it would depend on what style of Chard I was in the mood for -- unoaked or (lightly) oaked.
Domaine Paulilles Banyuls Rimage 2009 vs. Sobon Estate 2011 Zinfandel Port
This is the wine that everybody had to taste several times before they could decide which one they liked more. Neither of them is "hot", despite being fortified. Both of them pair beautifully with chocolate. Both had lovely spicy noses. The Zinfandel port is a kiss sweeter (but not a mouth of sugar) and a bit more fruity and grapey (but not foxy), while the Banyuls has some lovely creme-brulle notes mixed into the spicy tastes.
Lessons learned --
I served asparagus with dinner and had a bit of fun watching the less experienced among us learn not to wash it down with red wine. ;)
Also, I should've put out a bottle of Mouton Cadet and a 2 Buck Chuck Chard so that my guests would have a better idea of contrasts in quality -- they would've tasted a wine that is clearly not equal in quality.