Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wine Tasting Celebration

My birthday celebration was nearly a month ago and I'm finally getting to posting more details. Previously I talked about the food. The cheese, the dessert and the main event. We tasted wines. Eleven types of wine and what fun it was. I'm going to try to share as much as I can remember from the evening. I didn't take very good notes, so many of the notes you see are from J-lo.

Tasting 1:
Pretty Bubbles
Charles De Fere
Blanc De Blancs Sparkling Wine
France, non-vintage*
Blend of Chardonnay grapes

*This is a sparkling wine, not Champagne, due to the fact it it produced just outside of the Champagne region of France. Also, it is non-vintage. Most sparkling wines & champagnes are non-vintage. This allows the big wineries to have a consistent quality of wine. They can save up to 20% of the juice/wine from year to year to blend with the current year's juice/wine. So every year when you pop a bottle of bubbles from Perrier Jouet, it's going to taste the same as it did the year before. Unless of course, it is a vintage wine, from a specific year.

•Small-to-medium “beads”
•Flavor like a raspberry SweetTart
•Would serve well as a mixer for mimosas

French vs. New Zealand (The Sauvignon Blanc Wars of 2007)
Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand, 2007
$13.99 (estimate)

This is our favorite wine of the summer. Well, SB's have been a favorite white wine for awhile, but we had this bottle this summer and have since consumed over half a case!

During this tasting, the two SBs, we learned the difference between acidic and high alcohol content and how to tell the difference. Acidic wines will make your mouth water and your jaw feel tight, like Sour Patch Kids. High alcohol content will make your mouth feel hot. Very interesting.

•Smells like baked corn or other vegetable, manure, barnyard, milk
•Grassy flavor with strong grapefruit overtones
•Perfect pairing for spicy foods

Petit Bourgeois
Sauvignon Blanc
France, Loire Valley, 2007

Of the two SBs, tasted side by side, this was my favorite. Comparatively speaking.

•Aroma of powdered lime, limestone & goldenrod
•Flavors of gerbera daisy and lemon
•Acidic but very drinkable

France vs. California (The Oaky/Buttery Battles of 2006)
California/Russian River Valley/Sonoma County, 2006

•Smells of vanilla and oak
•Resin flavor reminiscent of plum pudding
•The oaky flavor meshes well with a heavy butter or cream sauce

La Lande
France, Gascony, 2006

•Acidic notes in the nose
•Lemony acid flavor finishes like a Sauvignon Blanc
•Great for serving with cream sauce

The Chardonnays. Well, I'm not a fan of Chards. I feel they are always buttery and oaky. I've learned that is not a bad thing, particularly when the wine is paired with the appropriate food. This tasting actually had a food pairing, for just this experience. I made Ravioli with Rosemary Cream Sauce. It was amazing how well they played together. You might ask why we did a Chard tasting, when I know I'm not a fan. It is one of the noble grapes and I want to understand it better. So, why not try it with the supervision of an expert!

What's that funny white wine?
Argentina, Salta Region, 2007

•Scents range from honeysuckle to grape jelly and over ripe cantaloupe, honeydew
•Flavor like spearmint, or fruit near the pit
•Great summer wine – full flavor but refreshing
•Similar to Menage a Trois, a wine we really liked this summer

This was an incredible bottle of wine. I had never heard of it and had no idea what to expect. What a nice treat. A perfect bottle of wine for a warm summer day when you're chillin outside enjoying life. Very drinkable, no pretension.

France vs. California in The Grape Debate

This was the most unique tasting and the one to spur the most debate and conversation. One grape, three completely different types of wine!
Louis Latour
Pinot Noir
France, Burgundy 2006

•Aromatic wine that smells like rubbing alcohol mellowing to mushrooms
•Strong flavors of red currant and oak
•Finish is short, not lingering on the palate
•Recommended for Thanksgiving

Cartlidge & Brown
Pinot Noir
California, 2007

•Smells like raisins smoked in brandy
•Flavor is almost “chewy” and is strong in brandy notes

This wine was a gift from The Sommeliatrix, (aka Caroline). The bottle came with a long story--basically it couldn't be sold and it might have been damaged for compromised in some way, so the store would put it on the shelf. YET, it's a wine that can age and show great resilience. So, there was a caveat as the bottle was opened, "it might be bad."
Morey Saint Denis
Pinot Noir
France, Burgundy

•Vanilla and oak aroma has a background like a damp, musty basement.
•Nose changes over the course of the evening. Sweet vanilla one sniff. Sour, damp, musty the next.
•Flavor varies with each sip – tasted blackberry, black tea, roasted peppers, tart cherry and allspice
•Expensive wine proves it is worth the cost

What an unbelievable tasting! Half the room liked the Louis Latour, but didn't like the Morey Saint Denis. Or half the room liked the Saint Denis, but didn't like the Louis Latour. Both French Burgundies! The general feeling was to skip the California/Cartlidge & Browne. Both French pinots would be good with salmon.

Burning Rubber
Graham Beck
South Africa, 2007

•Benzene aroma
•High alcohol content makes the mouth feel hot
•Flavor is unpleasant like rubber but mellows and pairs well with creamy cheeses

This wine was offered because "once you experience Pinotage, you will always know Pinotage." This unique grape is so distinctive in its aroma and flavors, you can't mistake it for something else. Although not a wine we loved, the experience of trying something with a personality unlike any other was fun.

Fruity Maryland Wine for Dessert
Loew Vineyard
Blueberry Wine
Maryland, Frederick County
$18.99 (estimate)

The only note I have on this...I didn't taste any blueberry, it was very light in the aroma. I tasted something like regular wine, not fruit wine. Nice! We picked this up over the summer when we did our little Maryland Wine & Food day trip.

There you have it. An evening of tasting wine!


Mia said...

Fun!!! What a great way to spend a birthday! :)

Dancer in DC said...

For the blueberry wine, I sometimes got blueberries in the flavor, but not always. We served it chilled, which I think worked well. It was not a really sweet dessert wine - more middle-of-the-road. Worked great as a dessert pairing.

Anonymous said...

I linked to your wine pairing recommendation for Ravioli with Rosemary Cream Sauce from WinedIn.