Continuing on with the exceptionally high volume of reading and study for my program, this week is looking to be another solid series of tastings and more MW test question research. All getting ready for MW residency in a few weeks as well as the over-all goal of the S1 Assessment in June. I am fortunate to have a variety of resources, generous tasting partners, and co-MW students in various groups to assist and balance the study and discussions.
For the Monday Tasting Group, this week, we have selected to focus on Riesling - any regional style. In preparation for this I have added my notes on Riesling to the Cultivar page under Study Resources. I will be adding to this later in the week with specific tasting notes from Germany (trocken wines from Mosel, Pfalz and Rheingau), as well as Austria and Alsace. We are generally focusing on these wines in my Thursday Skype group, in which we detail and then compare dry tasting notes following the MW style in which there is a reliance on identifying all of the characteristics of the wine from the glass and why it is there.
For Tuesday, in which I am associated with a MW tasting group out of NYC, the focus will be on Merlot, generally speaking on the lower end of the price scale. To this effort I have rewritten and added to my notes on Merlot in the Cultivar section of Study Resources.
This group also focuses on past MW exam questions as they may appear on future exams, and to give a sense of what is involved with this, here are our specific topics this week and on these two questions:
For Wednesday, though, I think we have an exciting and hopefully educational tasting session planned. Topic is:
What kind of wine is Appassimento?
Designed to explore the various wines made in the appassimento method.
Think and explore. Does not have to be a tasting of only Amarone.
Various wines are produced with this method, reds and whites, dry and sweet wines. Anything non-Italian?
Once I have confirmations of attendance (by Monday please!) I will make assignments. In general we agreed to not taste all of the wines blind. I will be adding a page to this site later today with some basic information and notes on the Appassimento method and related wines.
It is a weird relationship - chocolate and wine, that is. There is a lot of tannin involved in a tasting of these two products, and when you compound any component, it can often become intense, sometimes to the point of unpleasantness. Depending on the sweetness level int he chocolate, and the fruit component of the wine, there can be outstanding matches, though. The main thing to consider is the overall sugar level in the mouth, and the back-up fruit (often berries with red wine) supporting the sugar.
Often a fruit driven, sapid, red with rich fruit and lower tannins will work best with rich and decadent chocolates. Think Aussie shiraz with 65% dark. Here are other suggestions on how to maximize your tasting experience.
TASTING WINE AND CHOCOLATE
Taste wine from lightest to darkest, similar to how you would taste the chocolate.
Milk Chocolate (less than 50% Cocoa) Pairs with:
Smooth Dark Chocolate (+50% Cocoa) Pairs with:
Medium Dark Chocolate (+60% Cocoa) Pairs with:
Extra Dark Chocolate (+70% Cocoa) Pairs with:
As a server or bartender, why would you sell wine as opposed to anything else the guest wanted to order?
As a food service professional, the number one reason to sell wine is:
INCREASED CHECK AVERAGES AND HIGHER GRATUITIES, otherwise known as MAKING MONEY!
Additionally, for every $10 increase in the sale price of a wine – potential earnings (on average) add an extra $2 on the tip rate.
Beyond the monetary benefits, there are a number of great reasons to recommend wine to your guests:
Types of Customers
Excellence is an act won by training and habituation.
We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence,
but rather we have those because we have acted rightly.
We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.
So this first question to address might be, what is Chianti Rufina?
Chianti Rufina is a small sub-zone in the northeast part of the greater Chianti district, and is a area that has always been associated with Florence. I was fortunate enough to visit this area about 8 years ago courtesy of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi and their Nipozzano estate. I remember two distinguishing things about the area - first, it was quite small, and second, was very hilly - being tucked into the foothills of the Apennines and all. The vineyards are basically tucked into the twisting hills outside the limits of Florence by about 30 minutes. The other thing about this area is that there is a fairly short list of wineries. Once you go beyond Selvapiana and Nipozzano, there are literally only a handful of other producers. Nonetheless, the region makes outstanding fan-favorite wines, that showcase beautiful fruit and great style.
The 2015, Selvapiana Chianti Rufina DOCG, is fruity on the nose with that distinct Chianti wood and bright cherry flavors wrapped around a slight iron and wet stone under-tone. This wine is very youthful, with almost juicy, vibrant acids on the palate. Looks like it is nearly 100% Sangiovese, with just a small amount of Canaiolo Colorino and Malvasia Nera added in for complexity and perhaps some freshness. The wine continues through the palate with a dry feel, very soft and easy tannins, and quite easy to drink. It's complex without being tired, as so many wines from Chianti can suffer from. Everything is a little tart - cherries, plums, cranberry - with a touch of alcohol creeping (label indicate 13.5%), but overall finishes a bit dry and very fresh.
I like wines like this as they go with food very well - try this with a pizza or some pasta, or even a piece of salmon.
Fattoria Selvapiana's website has loads of information, and lots of pretty pictures. This is a serious estate though and it is a region that should get a lot more attention - its just there are not a lot of producers here.
Stephen Brook at Decanter posted an article a while back about the area - quick easy read.
First tasting of the new year for the MNTG, and we are going to focus on a varietal for this one - Pinot Gris is the target. Last week I met with one of my Skype groups and we compared dry tasting notes on Pinot Gris from Alsace and Pinot Grigio from Collio / Alto-Adige, in Italy.
You can flip over to my resource page and Cultivars list to see my notes and some added background info on what we discussed. I think the important thing to keep in mind with identifying these wines and this variety blind, is really to focus on the structure. Pinot Gris has a definite bounce in acidity - at least from quality and hillside regions (as opposed to lower acid styles often associated with more high yielding and flatter vineyard areas). Combine this with some almond and almond skin, pear and ginger notes, and you stand a decent chance of figuring this one out. I find Pinot Gris and Grigio are often showing a little waxy note, as well as a sleek quality on the palate, which helps me to differentiate it from other Italian non-aromatic varieties.
My spotlight wine of the week, at least for the white side of things, is from that tasting last week, and is the Paul Kubler Pinot Gris K, 2014, from Alsace. This wine is racy, with med+ acidity, shows a long and sleek palate style and is rich without being heavy. I really enjoyed it and the slight phenolic bitterness is a good off-set to the slightly rich (but not sweet) feel. At 14% abv, it hid the alcohol well, and was a very good accompaniment to cheese and a light creamy (but vegan) pasta dish my son concocted.
The wine rings in at the $30 mark (maybe just a touch high on the mark-ups there?), but was well integrated and showed exceptional balance and mouthfeel, was rich without sweetness, juicy without being sharp, depth of pit fruit flavor with good length and balance throughout. I would recommend this if you come across it.
See you all Monday!
"Le terroir sublime le vin
dès lors que le vigneron
respecte la Nature "
Tonight's tasting was definitely geared to going a bit deeper into the profile of Pinot Noir on a global reach. With what turned out to be three Volnay, we may not have exactly succeeded completely in that effort. Although we did taste some pretty outstanding Pinot Noir - as well as a couple of duds.
The first wine of the night was from Germany (and Mr. Rudman did succeed in correctly pulling this one out of his hat). This was the 2012, Domaine Meyer-Nakel, and it comes from the Ahr region. Clocking in a t 13.5% abc on the label, it lists for retail at approximately $50, which was a bit of a shock to us considering what was showing in the bottle. We all took this wine to be sound, but there was this kind of weird plastic scent in the back ground for me and it kept throwing it off through my tasting. The fruit was held back and showed a bit under-ripe in most of our opinions. I think we generally felt it was lacking a bit of intensity and could have been more powerful, considering the price tag, as well as our expectations for Germany Pinot Noir, these days.
Next was the 2013, Joseph Swan Cuvée de Trois, Russian River Valley, and this wine definitely was showing some class and depth. Just a little brick starting to show in the rim variation, along with a bit of dried fruit creeping in on the edges of the palate, this wine was soft and full of tart fruit. It has great texture, and the spice and depth were throwing a few of the tasters off from the RRV. It does have some core power and the mid-palate spice I often associate with regions such the RRV. I kind of thought this may have been from New Zealand, North Island, and perhaps just a bit older than it turned out to be. I did like the wine though and really appreciated the complexity and the subtlety of the feel on the palate.
The third and fourth wines were both New World selections, and the group was generally down on them; primarily from a perceived poor winemaking style. One wine was the 2013, Luigi Bosca Pinot Noir, which is from Mendoza, Argentina. The wine just had this muddled and not very well defined style, and the group had a tough time placing this. It turned out to be a dry, relatively warm climate (Mendoza), but from a tough and cool vintage. All of this could have contributed to the lack of complexity, awkward feel on the palate and difficult to place acid/tannin/fruit balance. I have worked with Luigi Bosca wines in the past and have generally found them to be quite well made. This one was a bit tough to take.
The next wine happened to be the 2015 Resonance from Oregon, a wine made by the winemaker form Louis Jadot. It was a wine that showed a lot of upfront, super young and almost bubble-gum/licorices flavors. We thought there may have been some Carbonic Maceration going on here, but I think it more of a result of punch-downs and a bit of whole-cluster fermentation being used to achieve the very vibrant and youthful style.
Wine five started the second flight off quite well. A slight haze, but beautiful nose, that was still developing and probably has a few more good years to go. The 2005, Volnay 1er cru Taillepieds from Bouchard Per & Fils. According to Allen Meadows for the 2005 vintage: "The domaine is now run by Charles Ballot. The approach in the vineyards is lutte raisonée, which is to say treatments are only made in response to an obvious threat, rather than the traditional "in anticipation of" approach. The fruit is 100% destemmed, fermented with natural yeasts and raised in 10 to 30% new wood for approximately 18 months and then bottled without filtration." Wine showed extremely well, and was displaying is fairly excellent pedigree. Complex, well integrated, the tannins still with life, and just a little edge of tertiary flavors creeping in.
Wine number six was an interesting taste, as it turned out to be a Marlborough Pinot Noir from the 2008 vintage - Wairau River Family Estate. Showing some age, it did still have some nuance and hints of former finesse. There was a smooth palate of subtle oak mixed with tart cherry and sage. this wine is on the slow decline though.
Wine number seven (of which I am sipping as we speak), was another good style to take a look at. The 2014, Volnay VV by Vincent Girardin. I think we all agreed this wine showed fairly well, and the pedigree probably helped to carry it along. I think most of us did basically agree though that is was slightly hard to pin down regionally/stylistically.
And to finish the bunch, wine number eight was the 2006, Volnay Champains Domaine d'Angerville. Absolutely lovely and a bit more powerful than we had all kind of worked out, especially considering we had just worked through two other examples of Volnay. A number of us picked for more northern Cote d'or due to the fullness and rustic edge it carried, but 2006 most likely the culprit here. Wine was showing well, despite the vintage not being ideal. This wine had dried red cherries and much other fruit, mixed with smooth but rustic or slightly robust feel.
With three Volnay totally unplanned in the mix, we got a little perspective into this village. I will say though that there was not a seam of similarity among the three wines. Each from a different vineyard site, as well as different ages made it kind of hard to pinpoint a sense of Volnay.
Everything brought tonight essentially were examples of what we are looking to experience - a breadth of regions and varietal example. Typically ended with a number of very well made wines examples, and a few duds thrown into the mix for educational purposes, of course.
Here is a short video of the geological origins of Burgindy and how the regions developed over time.
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