Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Whites of France

Last night was another meeting of the WSET Tasting Club. Ok, so that isn't the official name but that's what we have for now. This was the first time that the whole group was able to get together since the class...and let me just say that this group is a riot. Well, so am I...I guess. At least Peter thought so since he hadn't heard me say more than 5 words during our 11 weeks of class :-).

The night started with a ridiculous spread of cheeses and charcuterie presented by Dona and her hubby Chris (thanks guys!) Then we headed to the patio for pre-tasting sips of Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc. I proceeded to be eaten alive by mosquitoes as I sat enjoying the wine and conversation, to the point that I actually thought I was breaking out in hives! No big deal, the wine was great and I'm not really a big sauvignon blanc fan. But I will give this one a 2nd glance in the wine shop, very fruit, crisp with high acidity but not the grassy herbal taste I'm used to with sauvignons.

Back inside we sat down to a placemat with 12 glasses and people began pouring out the wines in their paper bags (this was a blind tasting). We entered out wines on a spreadsheet when we came in and then they were wrapped. The spreadsheet was printed out so we could match the wines we tasted to what we thought they were. Funny thing though, we had 2 red wines in front of us and 1 red on the sheet. Found out later that the 2 reds were the same thing! If that wasn't funny enough, we had 7 whites on the list...but only 6 in front of us. The joke behind that was that 2 of the whites that we were tasting were the same thing AND 2 of the ones on the list were still in a bag on the living room floor!! They never made it into the tasting, HAHA!! We all got a good laugh out of that one.

But enough about the tasting shenanigans. On with the notes. There were actually 7 whites and 1 red, one of the whites was a champagne.

First up, a 2007 William Fevre Chablis. I brought this one, seeing as though I actually went to this winery on my trip to Burgundy, it was a natural choice. And a great choice. Chablis is the greatest example of Chardonnay in my opinion, with its dryness and high acidity, there is no oak aging so the fresh citrus fruit flavors and minerality come through on this one. Clearly I was able to select this one correctly blind.

2007 Sancerre -- Not your average sauvignon blanc, with flavors of apple and banana on the nose. The palate was surprisingly different with crisp grapefruit and lime. Medium on the finish but a great wine that is ready to drink now, but can age. My 'guess' was correct at first, then I 2nd guessed myself and got it wrong.

2007 Entre Deux Mers -- A youthful white with citrus, limey fruit on the nose. Dry with high acidity, this wine displayed the citrus flavors on the palate along with grass and mineral notes. I don't believe this wine will get much better with aging so I would drink it within the next year. This was my first taste of an Entre Deux Mers from Bordeaux and I was very pleased. With that being said, I didn't get this one right either.

2002 Les Pierres Girard Anjou Blanc -- At 7 yrs old, this already developed wine was a bit closed on the nose fruitwise, just giving honey, stewed scents. After a bit of swirling we got the intensity on the palate. Fairly high in alcohol and body, rich tastes of pear, pineapple, and apple came forth. A bit of almonds and minerals on the finish, I think this one has done all the aging that it's going to do.

Michel Turgy Reserve Champagne -- Since we could clearly tell this was a Champagne we actually tasted it first, but it was in the 5th tasting spot. Pale and lemon green in color, the nose of apple and yeast that are typical of champagne came through. With racing acidity on the palate and an intense taste of toastiness, yeast and melons. A very good example of a true champagne, some of the tasters believe this could actually get even better with age. I'm not one to age champagne, I say pop the bubbly when you buy it!

2006 Castelmaure Corbieres -- Well, when you have a white wine tasting and someone brings a red...it's not too challenging to blind taste. Medium garnet colored in the glass, this developing red had red fruit and smoke on the nose and the palate. While very balanced, the Corbieres offered no real depth in its flavors. Perhaps a bit more time in the bottle will allow development of richer and riper flavors.

2007 Trimbach Riesling -- Pale, lemon green in color this Riesling stayed true to form. Scents of honeydew melon and petrol floated from the glass before the swirl. On the palate were more citrus fruit flavors and even sort of the taste of petrol. Very well balanced with alcohol and acidity, this wine was very good and will get even better with a bit more age. My confidence was back up with this one, I got it right!

2006 Trimbach Pinot Blanc -- It was fairly tough to pinpoint what I smelled with the pinot blanc, I just knew that I smelled something. Good thing I was tasting with a group. Once someone pinpoints a smell, that's all you need. Wet wool, someone yelled out...and that is exactly the smell I got from this one. Very dry on the palate but a very intense taste of hay and pineapple with a medium finish. A good wine to drink as an aperitif right now or let it sit in your cellar for awhile and see what happens. As this was the only wine left on my list, there was no guessing or thought process involved in selecting this one :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Weekend of Tasting

What a whirlwind weekend! If there were free spirits to be had, I found them this weekend! With that being said, no one wants to read (nor do I want to type that much) everything I drank. So only the best of the best will be discussed.

It all started on Friday at Cafe Atlantico at their free rum tasting. This was my first spirits tasting so I wasn't sure what to expect. There were 5 different rum producers on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the restaurant and each had at least 3 different rums to pour for tasting. We drank out of communion-like cups, which is great because I definitely did not want to go down for the count at 5pm. I started with Neisson Rum from Martinique, they had the fewest amount of people at their table at the time, and they were making 'cocktails'. That is in quotes because I'm not sure you can call it a real cocktail in that tiny cup. Pyrat from Anguilla was next, they had a rum that had been aged for 40 years! I didn't even know you aged rum that long. But I'm glad they did, it definitely had a smoother, richer oak taste. Mt Gay from Barbados was the last rum on the 2nd floor, I tasted their 3 and then moved over to the water table for a glass and a seat.

After a small break, and the realization that I hadn't had much to eat that day, I headed to the 3rd floor to see how far I could get with those. There were only 2 more so I figured that I'd be just fine. I saw a familiar rum and walked straight to it. Appleton from Jamaica! I have mixed, shot, and sipped Appleton for many years and was very interested to try the different offerings they had available. There were 4 rums for tasting each with a different age level or blend level. The best was the Reserve which had been blended with 20 different rums. Drinking a rum with that blend and age would definitely make me think twice of dumping some Coke in that glass. At my last stop was Flor de Cana of Nicaragua. It was a bit hard to enjoy this table because there were so many people standing around it just chatting. If you've already gotten your rum, move out of the way already! Apparently free t-shirts were being handed out so people lingered. Flor de Cana had 3 different rums: 5 yrs, 7 yrs, and 12 yrs. I actually liked the 7yrs the best. Not as smoky or rich as the 12 yr but much smoother than the 5 yr. I drank another glass of water and headed out. No need to hang around there, I went to the tasting by myself to go somewhere to have a conversation and maybe taste something else.

I got one of my girlfriends to come out and we met at Proof. So I chased my rum with wine! I love that Proof has 2 oz pours so that you can get a taste to see if you like it, or you can just drink several different things. I chose the latter. I ordered the cheese plate and drank a Txakolina, Ansonica/Cattaratto, and a Verdejo. The txakolina is so perfect for the summer! Crisp, refreshing, and with a slight bit of 'fizz', this Spanish grape is one to keep your eye on. Of course the entire Spanish region is definitely up and coming in the world of wine anyway. Pick your favs now so you can say you were at the beginning of the trend.

Fast Forward to the next fun tasting, Cork Wine Bar for French wines. There were 6 wines total, 2 sparklers from Limoux (white and rose), 1 sparkling Chenin Blanc and 3 types of Aligote. Or should it be 3 Aligotes...what is the plural for Aligote anyway?? As much as I love Chenin Blanc, South Africa and Vouvray, the sparkling chenin is not for me. It had a such a dry taste, none of the residual sugar or fruitiness of a regular chenin blanc. As far as the Aligote, anything from Burgundy is at the top of my list right now. Extra points because it was Aligote which you rarely see in stores, let alone at a wine bar for a tasting. There was nowhere to sit in the entire bar so no full glasses for me. I came home to enjoy a full (and free) glass of Vin de Pays d'Oc Chardonnay in front of the tv.

So sorry the weekend is over. But not to worry...tasting club is tomorrow! More French whites. I'm bringing Chablis...can't go wrong with Burgundy. Will report back tomorrow.