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WSET Diploma – Unit 3 – Week 14: Business of Wine

Woah! I’m feeling mighty uninspired. I think it might have to do with the clouds and rain, which are normally quite nice, but something’s blocking my brain and I feel like I have to obligatorily blame it on the weather. Maybe I need to watch a movie, or go on a mini vacation, or just hug someone for a really long time. It sure is an excuse to get juices flowing with actual alcoholic juice, but I’m going to not because my brain is telling me no. (Which means it’s going to be one can of beer or just a hint of scotch. And then maybe more scotch.)

wow can u not

wow can u not

Two weeks ago, I skipped class on southern Italy to attend an afternoon whisky seminar followed by a sobering nap. And then downtown for a good friend’s birthday. Would’ve been great had I not had to work early the next day, but I guess these things make you feel alive, even if “alive” means “searing headache”. Last week, I skipped a workshop class in order to study, sip on some Franciacorta, and hang out with some cool people. I was really tempted to skip this week for no good reason, but I went. And I know: rain and tiredness is no real reason not to trudge all the way to class, and yes – insert Nike commercial here or whatever – but let’s not forget that I’m still a pretty terrible human being.

The class was business-based and we tasted two flights of four, plus an in-class analysis activity in partners. FUN! Really.

caliredblends

“If you can’t handle me at my Apothic, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my Insignia.”

 

The topic my partner and I had was “California Red Blends”. Just the best, sweetest, and most delicious topic. Duh.

There were no hints to our flights of wine, but it became a bit evident that we were tasting wines whose regions we won’t cover in class. Spread the love, you know? Spread it all over our mouths.

The flight of whites wasn’t super difficult but it had its tricks. Spritz and freshness gave the first wine away (Casal Garcia Vinho Verde, $12), while the third, the lime-dominated obvi-Riesling, had most people split between one from the Eden/Clare Valley in Australia, a drier German Riesling (i.e. Rheingau), Alsace, or Austria. To me, it wasn’t piercing enough for the first option, and not peachy and elegant enough for the next two options, and the limey more savage version brought me to Austria (Weingut Bründlmayer 2008 “Kamptaler Terrassen” Riesling, $30). Could’ve been a flukey guess. The fourth (Michel Torino 2013 “Cuma” Torrontés, $14) was easy-ish: Torrontés is part of the aromatic group of grapes that smell like Bed Bath and Beyond decided to collaborate with the tropical section of that asian grocery store, but with more acid and generally a lighter body than grapes like Viognier and Muscat. Into it. The second wine (Domäne Wachau 2012 Grüner Veltliner, $18) was the hardest of them all and had me running around in circles and I landed a bunch of incorrect guesses like a white Côtes-du-Rhone, South African Chenin, and holy water. Ugh, Grüner, whatever. Same diff.

Though the flight of reds was harder, I don’t know how I mostly nailed the fifth (MOB 2011 Dão, $45) and sixth (Quinta Vale D. Maria 2011 Douro, $55) Portuguese wines besides the semi-hint. Spidey senses. I think the point here was that the Dão was slightly fresher than the fuller Douro field blend, though the core personalities of both were rather twin-like. But more fraternal than identical.

The seventh wine (Cono Sur 2012 “Block 21 Viento Mar” Pinot Noir, $20) was a bizarre and clunky combination of dried oranges, pomegranates, and wine gums and I wasn’t super into it; the last wine (Ridge 2011 “Lytton Springs”, $55) was fun, I suppose. It was close enough to the Portuguese wines that it had me suspicious, but it was different enough that I had to raise an eyebrow and squeeze out a half-guess before calling it a day.

And then I went home and said I wouldn’t have a drink because of the next day’s shindig, but I had just the smallest pinch of scotch.

So yes: the next night included lots of alcohol and laughter and fun with awesome colleagues, plus this bottle of Château Coulac 1983 Saint-Croix-du-Monte. The appellation is across the river from Sauternes, and that’s all I really know. Apparently a fantastic year for the region, and though there’s a real honeyed character, there’s a dry and almost steely nuttiness that illuminates the amphitheatre that is your mouth. Definitely drier than we were expecting, I think?

(I was going to make a “You Sauternes me on” joke, but it’s the wrong appellation and now I’m sad about it.)

Château Coulac 1983 Saint-Croix-du-Monte

And then we all ran out of wine, so we had beers and whisky instead. Drunk salad is now a thing that happens at home before I go to bed. It’s true.

There’s a fun wine dinner happening on Sunday and I’m stoked and not stoked all at the same time.

Casal Garcia Vinho Verde – WSET Tasting Note:

Casal Garcia Vinho VerdeEyes: clear, pale lemon, legs, hint of froth/spritz
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, stone fruit, peach, nectarine, green apple, hint of canned peaches
Mouth: hint spritz, dry, med- body, med+ acid, med flavour intensity, med- alcohol, citrus, lemon, mineral, med length, hint of canned peach, green fruit
All in all: Good quality: simple and short, but there’s balance between the freshness, intensity, and aromatic character. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Vinho Verde from Portugal; 2 years old.
Is really: 
Inexpensive Vinho Verde from Portugal; NV.

Producer: Casal Garcia
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Portugal
Sub-Region: 
Vinho Verde DOC
Variety:
 Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto, Azal
ABV:
 10%
Vintage:
 NV?
Tasted:
 Feb 2, 2015
Price:
 $12

Domäne Wachau 2012 Grüner Veltliner – WSET Tasting Note:

Domäne Wachau 2012 Grüner VeltlinerEyes: clear, pale lemon, legs
Nose: clean, med intensity, developing, mineral, citrus, slight hint of smoke, stones, hint apple, mushroom
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med acid, med alcohol, med+ flavour intensity, wet wool, hint smoke, mineral, creaminess, ripe apple, med+ length
All in all: Good quality: a bit simple, quiet, and almost non-distinct, but texture and secondary characteristics boost quality. Moderate acid but balanced. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch; 4 years old.
Is really:
Mid-priced Grüner Veltliner from Wachau, Austria; 3 years old.

Producer: Domäne Wachau
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Austria
Sub-Region: 
Wachau
Variety:
 Grüner Veltliner
ABV:
 13%
Vintage:
 2012
Tasted:
 Feb 2, 2015
Price:
 $18

Weingut Bründlmayer 2008 “Kamptaler Terrassen” Riesling – WSET Tasting Note:

Weingut Bründlmayer 2008 "Kamptaler Terrassen" RieslingEyes: clear, med lemon, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing, petrol, green fruit, lime, citrus, lemon, mineral, fresh green apple
Mouth: dry, med+ acid, med+ body, med alcohol, med+ flavour intensity, petrol, citrus, lemon, lime, mineral, hint stone fruit, peach, long length
All in all: Very good quality: the wine has direct kerosene and citrus character; the long finish transitions well from the balance of fruit, the acidity, and the hint of residual sugar. Can drink now: has potential for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Premium Riesling from Kamptal DAC, Austria; 6 years old.
Is really:
High-priced Riesling from Kamptal DAC, Austria; 7 years old.

Producer: Weingut Bründlmayer
Designation: 
“Kamptaler Terrassen”
Region:
 Austria
Sub-Region: Kamptal DAC
Variety:
 Riesling
ABV:
 12%
Vintage:
 2008
Tasted:
 Feb 2, 2015
Price:
 $30

Michel Torino 2013 “Cuma” Torrontés – WSET Tasting Note:

Michel Torino 2013 "Cuma" TorrontésEyes: clear, pale lemon, legs
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, youthful, floral, spice, cardamom, bergamot, stone fruit, peach, hint tropical, hint mango
Mouth: dry, med body, high acid, med alcohol, med flavour intensity, stone fruit, peach, spice, bergamot, cardamom, hint tropical, med length
All in all: Good quality: the wine shines on the nose, with intense and complex spice, though it lacks length and a bit of concentration on the palate. High acid keeps flavours from being cloying though perhaps it also closes off some of the fruit. Drink now: not suitable for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Torrontés from La Salta, Argentina; 3 years old.
Is really:
Inexpensive Torrontés from Cafayate, La Salta, Argentina; 2 years old.

Producer: Michel Torino
Designation:
“Cuma”
Region: 
Argentina
Sub-Region:
Cafayate, Salta
Variety:
 Torrontés
ABV:
 13.5%
Vintage:
 2013
Tasted:
 Feb 2, 2015
Price:
 $14

MOB 2011 Dão – WSET Tasting Note:

MOB 2011 DãoEyes: clear, deep purple, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, black fruit, blackberry, spice, earth, black pepper, blueberry, earth, blackcurrant
Mouth: dry, med body, med+ intensity, med chalky tannin, med+ alcohol, black fruit, blackberry, spice, hint jamminess, med length
All in all: Very good quality: though deep in flavour, the palate sustains a finesse that lifts the fruit despite only moderate acid. The wine has multiple flavours but lacks longer direction. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Touriga Nacional-based Dão from Portugal; 4 years old.
Is really:
Premium Touriga Nacional-based Dão from Portugal; 4 years old.

Producer: MOB
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Portugal
Sub-Region: 
Dão DOC
Variety:
 Touriga Nacional, Jaen, Baga, Alfrochiero
ABV:
 12.5%
Vintage:
 2011
Tasted:
 Feb 2, 2015
Price:
 $45

Quinta Vale D. Maria 2011 Douro – WSET Tasting Note:

Quinta Vale D. Maria 2011 DouroEyes: clear, deep purple, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, black fruit, spice, white pepper, dried flowers, hint raisiny fruit, earth, dark chocolate
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med+ acid, med intensity, med+ ripe tannin, med+ alcohol, black fruit, spice, white pepper, floral, hint greenness, blackberry, med+ length
All in all: Very good quality: though alcohol sticks out a bit, the wine contains its colossal and concentrated self relatively well with its structure. Above average length; well-concentrated. Can drink now, but has potential for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Touriga Nacional-based Douro blend from Portugal; 4 years old.
Is really:
Premium Douro blend from Portugal; 4 years old.

Producer: Quinta Vale D. Maria
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Portugal
Sub-Region: 
Douro DOC
Variety:
 a blend of lots of Portuguese things
ABV:
 15%
Vintage:
 2011
Tasted:
 Feb 2, 2015
Price:
 $55

Cono Sur 2012 “Block 21 Viento Mar” Pinot Noir – WSET Tasting Note:

Cono Sur 2012 "Block 21 Viento Mar" Pinot NoirEyes: clear, med ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, red fruit, lack cherry, cranberry, spice, earth, dried red fruit, weird hint of dried orange, pomegranate, redcurrant, wine gums
Mouth: dry, med body, med acid, med alcohol, med chalky tannin, med+ intensity, black cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, red fruit, earth, med length
All in all: Good quality: though this Pinot has relatively intense fruit, it lacks some grace and continuity. The structure is sufficient and the length is average. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Tempranillo from Spain.
Is really:
Mid-priced Pinot Noir from San Antonio, Chile; 3 years old.

Producer: Cono Sur
Designation:
“Block 21 Viento Mar”
Region: 
Chile
Sub-Region: 
San Antonio, Aconcagua
Variety:
 Pinot Noir
ABV:
 13.8%
Vintage:
 2012, I think
Tasted:
 Feb 2, 2015
Price:
 $20

Ridge 2011 “Lytton Springs” – WSET Tasting Note:

Ridge 2011 "Lytton Springs"Eyes: clear, deep ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, dried black fruit, milk chocolate, earth, spice, bramble, blackberry, blueberry
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med acid, med+ alcohol, med+ chalky tannin, med+ intensity, med+ length, dried black fruit, black fruit, blackberrry, blueberry, a hint of jam, bramble, spice
All in all: Very good quality: the wine is a bit direct and brute in its flavours but it is intense and concentrated. Acid doesn’t carry the fruit perfectly but the tannins and alcohol provide balance. Good length. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
I got far enough to guess Malbec/Touriga Nacional/Baga but that’s it. Urgh.
Is really:
Premium Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley AVA, Northern Sonoma, California

Producer: Ridge
Designation: 
“Lytton Springs”
Region: 
USA
Sub-Region:
Dry Creek Valley AVA, Northern Sonoma, California
Variety:
 Zinfandel (82%), Petite Sirah (16%), Carignane (2%)
ABV:
 14.4%
Vintage:
 2011
Tasted:
 Feb 2, 2015
Price:
 $55

 

Josh

DipWSET, Certified Sommelier, garbage person.

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