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WSET Diploma – Unit 3 – Week 11: Central Italy

Sangio-crazy.

So on some last Tuesday of some sort, we were supposed to have practice (I love referring to practice blind tasting sessions as such because it sounds like I’m vaguely into sports) but it was cancelled because there’s a bit of a cold going around. The viruses have decided disregard me over the past few months so I’m lucky, and that’s saying something when you’re in retail because you’re basically touching everyone. I’ll get it at the worst time, I’m sure. That one birthday when I invited my friends over but was wrapped up in a blanket the whole time.

I hopped onto the 2015 Vancouver Wine Festival tickets slightly more ravenously than I did for Lady Gaga concert tickets last year, even though I’m not supremely stoked that Australia is the theme country. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love Australia, but part of me fears that each seminar will leave my mouth feeling stained and used. I suppose I’m doing myself a disservice by expecting exactly what everyone else is thinking, but I guess that’s why there are all the cool seminars having to do with exploring different terroirs, and weird varietals grown in Australia and other cool shit. I’m into it. According to my credit card.

Led a blind tasting with my colleague at UBC the other day. Daunted by the purported amount of people attending on the Facebook event, it was bittersweet to find out that not as many people showed up (because it’s cool to say you’re going and then not go or whatever). It was fun though: we featured four wines and had flavour elements laid out everywhere throughout the art gallery, having people match up flavours to the wines. We also did this last-minute thing where we had people write collective tasting notes on this big sheet of paper (which was really just the back of an old 2014 Decanter calendar). Success, I think. Also, cool art and stuff.

4321

flavours

collectivetasting

INVASIVE! It’s “berry” good. The right people came to this. Also, my best friend was there <3

And somewhere on the weekend I went to a friend‘s place for dinner after work. We had rice bowls. And I enjoyed it. Because rice. And bowls. And good cooking. And meeting new people. And laughter. And pomegranates.

There was both beer and wine, but I decided to go right for the wine, being the pretentious fuck that I am, and the Anselmi San Vincenzo provided just enough light for that bridge between work and, well, anything but. (Does sucking in your gut count as work?) Then there was the Brokenwood 2006 IRL Reserve Sémillon, which, hello. Pikachu: lightweight, lithe, chewing on electricity. There was the Vereinigte Hospitien 1990 “Sanctus Jacobus” Graacher Domprobst Riesling Auslese which I made people taste blindly, because I am a monster that likes to ruin the rhythm of a good evening. Like a clogged toilet.

auslesegalant

Charcoal filter, cheese, spice, sunsets. Tasting notes, not an insane grocery list.

We finished with this weird non-vintaged beauty that smelled of Christmas and applesauce. The Jean Bourdy Galant des Abbesses is a gentle beast from Jura, and it’s made from must that’s been charged with herbs and spices, then fortified with marc de Jura. Swoon.

Class was decent. We had 6 wines instead of 7 because of time (we still went 15 minutes over anyways), but also thank god because tannin galore.

Central Italy has some powerful and dagger-like reds, and it’s almost like they need the refreshing, neutral, and almost bland white wines to balance out the superlatives. Meh. Though the first of our whites (Fontaleoni 2013 Vernacchia di San Gimignano, $18) was a little more characterful than the blander second (Ruffino 2013 Orvieto Classico, $13), it was argued that the Vernacchia was perhaps just slightly more oxidized than it should be, but hey: it added character.

The reds are where it got more interesting: we were told that we would be given four reds from the same region, and it was up to us to determine which region and what wines they were. (Tuscany, obviously.)

Awkwardly enough, I thought the most expensive wine in the flight (Gianni Brunelli “Le Chiuse di Sotto” Brunello di Montalcino, $99) was the one of the least best quality: it seemed the lightest in body, but perhaps the better description is that it was the most elegant of the flight. Guessed it as a Chianti Classico that lacked a bit of concentration and complexity, but I’m often prey to the gustatory equivalents of optical illusions. I suck.

The second wine (Viticcio 2010 Chianti Classico Riserva, $40) was markedly floral and dominated with Sangiovese on paper, but the expression was much more modern and dark in its fruit. Lots of dusty violet character along with plums, black cherries, and very-well integrated oak. There’s a much more viscous mouthfeel and slight shortfall of poise, an outfit which I found similar to the third red (Poliziano 2010 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, $40), though I found flavours here much more textbook Sangiovese: sour cherry, dried red fruit, sage, and tomato leaf. I originally guessed that this one was the Brunello, but that was before I realized I had gotten the first two wines wrong. I changed my conclusion as I was reading out my tasting note, and I villainously beamed when the instructor said I nailed the wine, but I’m a Sangio-phony. Ohhhh!

The last was the wine with that obvious cassis bend (Tenuta San Guido 2011 “Guidalberto” Toscana, $60), heavily suggesting something with Cab. Probably the most brooding and bearish of the four red wines, and the fullest body but perhaps tight in the slightest. Lots of opulence on the nose: spice, menthol, plum, dried black cherry, cassis, and a hint of game.

My wine girlfriend is coming to visit on Monday for her birthday. (Un)Apologetically skipping class next week to be fancy drunk as.

Fontaleoni 2013 Vernacchia di San Gimignano – WSET Tasting Note:

Fontaleoni 2013 Vernacchia di San GimignanoEyes: clear, pale gold, legs
Nose:  clean, med intensity, youthful (developing?), ripe lemon, citrus, apple, pear, hints of honey
Mouth: dry, med body, med intensity, med+ acid, med length, med alcohol, citrus, ripe lemon, mineral, apple, pear, stone fruit, bitter almond
All in all: Good quality: the wine is well-balanced, showing fair structure and moderate intensity, and characterful though relatively neutral. The wine, despite having a bit of acidity, lacks a bit of freshness and complexity. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Verdicchio from Marche, Italy; 2 years old.
Is really:
Mid-priced Vernacchia di San Gimignano from Toscana, Italy; 2 years old.

Producer: Fontaleoni
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, Toscana
Variety:
 Vernaccia
ABV:
 12%
Vintage:
 2013
Tasted:
 January 12, 2015
Price:
 $18

Ruffino 2013 Orvieto Classico – WSET Tasting Note:

ruffinoorvietoclassicoEyes: clear, pale lemon, legs
Nose: clean, med- intensity, youthful, citrus, floral, mineral, lemon, hint apple, hint pear, hint tropical flowers
Mouth: dry, med- body, med intensity, med acid, med alcohol, hint spritz, lemon, citrus, apple, mineral, hint savoury, med length, pear, floral
All in all: Good quality: like the last wine in the flight, the wine is balanced, quaffable, and a fair representation of what it is, but it lacks a real finish and is quite simple. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Toscana, Italy; 2 years old.
Is really:
Inexpensive Orvieto Classico from Umbria, Italy; 2 years old.

Producer: Ruffino
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Orvieto Classico DOC, Umbria
Variety:
 Grechetto, Trebbiano toscano, Verdello, Canaiolo bianco
ABV:
 12%
Vintage:
 2013
Tasted:
 January 12, 2015
Price:
 $13

Gianni Brunelli 2009 “Le Chiuse di Sotto” Brunello di Montalcino – WSET Tasting Note:

Gianni Brunelli 2009 Brunello di MontalcinoEyes: clear, med+ garnet, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing, earth, sour cherry, red fruit, black cherry, sage, kriek lambic
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med intensity, med acid, med chewy tannin, black cherry, herbs, earth, sage, dried cherry, med+ alcohol, med+ length
All in all: Very good (to outstanding) quality: though a bit closed on the nose, the wine has elegant concentration and intensity, as well as structured balanced and persistence. Can drink now, but has potential for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Chianti Classico from Toscana, Italy; 6 years old.
Is really:
Premium Brunello di Montalcino from Toscana, Italy; 6 years old.

Producer: Gianni Brunelli
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Toscana
Variety:
 Sangiovese
ABV:
 14.5%
Vintage:
 2009
Tasted:
 January 12, 2015
Price:
 $99

Viticcio 2010 Chianti Classico Riserva – WSET Tasting Note:

Viticcio 2010 Chianti Classico RiservaEyes: clear, deep ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, floral, violets, cola, black fruit, earth, plum, black cherry, dusty, oak
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med+ intensity, med+ chalky tannin, med+ acid, med+ alcohol, black fruit, plum, violet, black cherry, flowers, cola, med+ length
All in all: Very good quality: long-lasting blasts of floral plum are balanced by intense structure and acidity; balanced but slightly coarse. Can drink now, but has potential for ageing.
Identity Guess:
High-priced Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Toscana, Italy; 4 years old.
Is really:
High-priced Chianti Classico from Toscana, Italy; 5 years old.

Producer: Viticcio
Designation: 
Riserva
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Chianti Classico DOCG, Toscana
Variety:
 Sangiovese (95%), Merlot (5%)
ABV:
 13.5%
Vintage:
 2010
Tasted:
 January 12, 2015
Price:
 $40

Poliziano 2010 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – WSET Tasting Note:

Poliziano 2010 Vino Nobile di MontepulcianoEyes: clear, med ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing, tomato leaf, sour cherry, red fruit, red cherry, earth, dried cherry, floral
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med+ intensity, high acid, high chalky tannin, med+ alcohol, sour cherry, soy, leather, earth, red fruit, tomato leaf, med+ length
All in all: Very Good (to outstanding) quality: the wine has classic Sangiovese complexity with hints of tertiary character wrapped up in proper structure, but there’s a bit of a lack in elegance. Can drink now, but has potential for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Premium Brunello di Montalcino from Toscana, Italy; 6 years old. Last minute, changed answer to Premium Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Toscana, Italy; 6 years old.
Is really:
Premium Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Toscana, Italy; 5 years old.

Producer: Poliziano
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, Toscana
Variety:
 Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) (85%); Colorino, Canaiolo, Merlot (15%)
ABV:
 14%
Vintage:
 2010
Tasted:
 January 12, 2015
Price:
 $40

Tenuta San Guido 2011 “Guidalberto” Toscana – WSET Tasting Note:

Tenuta San Guido 2011 "Guidalberto" ToscanaEyes: clear, deep ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing, spice, black fruit, game, red fruit, menthol, plum, dried black cherry, earth, sage
Mouth: dry, full body, med to med+ intensity, med+ acid, med+ ripe tannin, med+ alcohol, sour cherry, red fruit, sour plum, earth, spice, black cherry, floral, long length
All in all: (Very good to ) Outstanding quality: I can understand how some may think the wine seems too heavy and slightly sticky, but I would argue for a well-balanced structure that balances out the thickness and persistence of the wine. Complex but young. Can drink now, but has potential for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Super-premium Supertuscan blend (e.g. Toscana IGT) from Toscana, Italy; 6 years old.
Is really:
Premium Toscana IGT from Toscana, Italy; 4 years old.

Producer: Tenuta San Guido
Designation: 
“Guidalberto”
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Toscana IGT
Variety:
 Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (40%)
ABV:
 14.5%
Vintage:
 2011
Tasted:
 January 12, 2015
Price:
 $60

Josh

DipWSET, Certified Sommelier, garbage person.

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