Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pinot on My Mind

On Monday night my WSET tasting club kicked off with its first meeting. There were only 3 of us for this one, but we knew we had to get it started or else we would never do it. I'm so glad we did! The meeting was great...and now I'll plan my schedule around the tasting club schedule....the 2nd or 3rd Monday of each month.

This month was a horizontal tasting on Pinot Noirs, with a Cabernet Sauvignon thrown into the mix to check our tasting skills. Our host for the month, Tim, had a fantastic setup. He served us an apertif of Chardonnay from Sonoma Cutrer. His wife, Ann Marie (a definite hostess with the mostess) had prepared trays of cheeses and charcuterie and pistachios. The glasses were placed at the table on a sheet with numbers that corresponded to each wine. We had tasting sheets from the Master Sommelier program to assess each wine by aroma/flavor and structure charateristics. There were even spit cups to use while we assessed the wines. I clearly went back after the tasting to finish off the glass of what I liked!

As for the actual tasting of the wine, all 5 wines were tasted blind, and we all kinda knew which one was the Cab (Wine #2) first sip. The smell gave it away too, it had a slighty earthy, musty character. It was a Chateau Greysac Medoc, tasted delish though.

Wine #1
Regional Bourgogne
A slight floral hint appeared on the nose while flavors of red fruit, fresh raspberries were apparent in this dry red. There was also an earthy, soil component. The rest of the tasters noted that this wine had probably seen time in a French or American Barrique. I definitely need more work with 'oak' tasting.

Wine #2
Chateau Greysac Medoc
The dryness and high tannins of this wine were a dead giveaway. The black fruit on the palate confirmed what we thought, this was the cabernet.

Wine #3
Cote Nuits Village
Aromas of red fruit and strawberries practically jumped out of the glass on this one. Hints of florals and soil also appeared on the palate. This wine also saw time in a French Barrique. But that strawberry... I went back for a full glass.

Wine #4
Chalone Monterey
After tasting the 'original' pinot noirs from Burgundy, it was a bit easier to tell that this one was from California. While having the dryness and medium tannins that are indicitive of Pinot Noir, the red fruit flavors in this wine weren't nearly as fresh and ripe as the Burgundies. We didn't believe that this wine spent any time in oak.

Wine #5
Saintsbury Carneros
Hints of spice and black fruit were present in the aromas and on the palate in this one. Off-dry with medium tannins, this wine had a great fruity finish...that I actually did finish ;-)

Again, a fantastic tasting for our 1st one. We continued the evening talking about wine, books, travel, a whole lot of stuff! Then we had our coffee and prepared our minds for the 1 1/2 hr drive back home. Thanks to the O'Hare's!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Spain in the Summertime

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of attending a free wine tasting of Spanish whites at Cork. Now I'm pretty familiar with reds from Spain and even some of their fortified wines, but with it being the middle of summer, I had to put the reds down. I do love my Albarinos right now, but would definitely like to see what else Spain had to offer as far as white wines are concerned.

The tasting consisted of 3 tables with 2 wines each starting with sparklers and ending with an aromatic and crisp white. I have definitely found some new wines to sip this summer, I even sat at the bar after the tasting to have a full glass of a couple of my faves. And I can add a few more grapes to my Century Club list, 100 grape varieties here I come! Here are the wines and tasting notes (according to Cork) listed below:

Avinyo Vi diAgulia

Undergoing a secondary tank fermentation, this wine has a slight fizz that made it a perfect wine to start the tasting with. With crisp, fresh flavors, this wine is best enjoyed with friends at a picnic or the start of a cookout. Serve well chilled.

Avinyo Cava

This Cava uses the traditional grapes of Parellada, Xarel-lo, and Macabeo to create this fresh sparkling wine. It is also aged on the less for 18-22 months giving a toasty, biscuity flavor on the palate.

Ameztoi Txakolina

I had never heard of this wine or grape before in my life. But I'm sure glad I am now familiar with it. While not a sparkling wine in the sense of how it is made, but this wine uses residual carbon to give it a kinda natural 'spritzy' quality. With lime on the nose and the palate, this was definitely my favorite! Drink this as an apertif or with shrimp cocktail.

Ostatu Blanco

A blend of the viura and malvasia grapes, this wine has steely, mineral aromas. This is mainly due to the fermentation in stainless steel tanks. On the palate you get hints of bright lemon and ripe citrus fruits. Another perfect choice for these dog days of summer.

Do Ferreiro Albarino
Rias Baixas

I already have a love for Albarino's, and this is another producer I can add to my list. Do Ferreiro actually adheres to organice principles in cultivating the grapes and ferments each parcel separately so that they maintain their individual character until blended for the final product. This albarino had sort of a chalky aroma, tasted of ripe peach in the palate.

Vina Mein

This wine is a blend of treixadura, godello, and laueria with small amounts of albarino, torrontes, albilla, and cano for good measure. Many rivers crisscross Ribeiro, which creates a cool, damp environment perfect for making clean, crisp whites. Aromas of honeysuckle, apricot, are present. On the palate, it’s slightly dry, but light bodied and refreshing, with tart apple and citrus flavors. Pair seafood with this one but go easy if you use lemon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Just Glad it's Over

So, on Monday night, I took the exam for the WSET Advanced course. I studied for this exam for like weeks! The class is already 10 weeks of instruction (it started in March) and then a 2 hr exam. Which of course, you have to read the book, the powerpoint slides, the study guide...etc in order to have half of an idea of the world of wine and spirits and what may possibly be on the exam.

The exam started with a 15 min blind tasting. The wine was red (which I'm not good at tasting). We had to assess it using the WSET approach, hoping that our instructor got the same nose and felt the same tannins that we did. Then we had to guess what the wine was from the 4 items listed (we all got that one wrong!) and also guess what the price point was. Luckily for us, we all figured that our instructor sticks to mid-priced wine and definitely wouldn't get a high priced wine for us to blind taste for this exam and spit out. Actually, the tasting wasn't all that bad. I was mostly worried about the 4 short answer questions that would be after the 50 multiple choice.

I had reason to be worried! I may be OK with the short answers though because there were 100 total points and I need 55 to pass. I pray that I got at least 55! I definitely think I knew enough to get the necessary correct from the multiple choice part. The question with the map definitely threw me for a loop.

But as I said before, I'm just glad it's over. No need to review and see if what I put was right or whatever. There is nothing I can do about my answers now. I just pray that I passed!!