Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wine School

Brad Post:

During the past year I have chronicled my experiences in wine making, first as an amateur and now as a assistant winemaker at a local winery. From my experience in the cellar I have learned a good deal about the process, and in particular how to identify wine faults or problems that we (winemakers) can strive to correct. I feel relatively confident in my ability to detect a fair range of wine faults and to distinguish amongst the wide array of Midwestern grown wine grapes - helpful as a wine judge.

My perpetual problem, in life and education, is the more I learn the less I feel I really know about the subject. So I immerse myself in a subject (part of my obsessive/compulsive self, I guess) to feel more confident in my abilities. This too for wine. I lack the necessary vernacular when it comes to describing wines. Surely I can identify a Zinfandel from a Cabernet but I'll have a more difficult time detecting the lychee (what the hell is lychee anyway) or the asparagus in my glass of wine.

In my typical response to a life-challenge, I hit the books, or should I say: hit the books and the wine! As part of my enology certificate program at DMACC, I have enrolled in VIN 150 - Introduction to wine: "This course presents introductory information on wine appreciation, focusing on sensory analysis, production, classification, and culture of wine."

Throughout the course of the semester my class and I (via blended format: meaning, we'll do 90% of the course via online, recorded lecture followed by a two-day tasting workshop) will learn about the world of wine and get serious about appreciation and sensory analysis. Follow along as I stumble through the course and offer your insights and suggestions to help my wine education improve.

Paul, the course instructor, asked us to find 3 bottles of Chardonnay and to just taste the wine. Try to describe the color, aroma, and tastes. He gave these basic instructions intentionally in an attempt to challenge us. Later he'll provide specific guidance to help us along.

Here are my first tastings notes on Chardonnay

After reading another students comments about blind tasting, I thought I'd follow suit and try my Chardonnay tasting semi-blind (i.e., I bought the wines but someone else poured them blind for me).

Prior to this tasting, I must admit, I hadn't tasted a Chardonnay for several years. My past experience with this varietal was as an over-oaked and buttery snoozefest. Every Chardonnay I'd drank tasted the same and I eventually stopped drinking it. Bonus for me that I took this class and was greeted with a variety of yumminess.

1) Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuisse 2007 (white Burgundy) - 14.99 Hy-Vee.
1a) Color: gold-green, maybe a light straw color. All three wines were very similar in color/hue.
1b) Aroma: bright and lively fruity aroma, maybe green-apple or peach.
1c) Taste: Initial sensations were very fruity, thin, tart on the tip of my tongue.1d) After-Taste: Slight lingering finish, nice, some burning in the back of my throat, a zing at the end.

*Dramatically different from another students bad experience (she detected sulfur compounds).

2) Tisdale Chardonnay, NV (California) - $3.99 (Fareway).
2a. Gold-green, a smidge darker than the others (richer color) - might be slightly oxidized.
2b. Aroma: completely different than #1 (above). Notes of butterscotch and vanilla. Lacks fruity characteristics of #1.
2c. Taste: smooth, round.
2d. After-Taste: no lingering aftertaste. Flat and lifeless.

Thoughts: for the money ($3.99) it really was alright.

3. McWilliams Chardonnay (2008) - Hanwood Estates - South Eastern Australia: $7.99 at Fareway. (Oaked).
3a. Color: gold-green, light straw
3b. Aroma: green apple, fruity - similar to #1
3c. Taste: good acidity in mid palate; fruity and something else
3d. After-Taste: nice long finish...looooonnnng.


Post Tasting Notes: All three wines were okay. Number 2 wine (Tisdale) was my least favorite; and the Pouilly Fuisse and McWilliams were both very nice. I think my very favorite was the McWilliams. With only a light touch of oakiness, I was surprised to find such fruit in this wine. Chardonnay is back on my list of wines to drink.

1 comment:

  1. well at least now you know you can go for the middle priced wines, and skip some of $3.99 stuff.