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WSET Diploma – Unit 3 – Week 17: Southern France & South America

I just realized that this is the penultimate WSET diploma class ever, and the next Monday will be the last, so perhaps I’ll temporarily be free from making these posts instead of legit studying. It’s almost been exactly two years since I started the diploma. WOAH DUDES. I’ll save more I-can’t-believe-it’s-been-this-long-etc-etc-omg sentiments for next week.

My best friend’s birthday was on the 4th and he planned some long string of activities including pool, clubbing, and other miscellaneous turnt-esque activities. Still not feeling life, generally, so I stayed for just the first bit, which means I attempted the geometrically bro-y activity of pool (after much external convincing) while studying German flash cards on my phone when people weren’t looking. I went home after that to watch The Grand Budapest Hotel and drink Alsatian Gewurztraminer in lieu of clubbing (sorry Chris) which raised my mood in the slightest. We’re opposites, basically.

How to combine the nerdy glory of trigonometry with the awkward shame of high school gym class. #badatthis

How to combine the nerdy glory of trigonometry with the awkward shame of high school gym class. #badatthis

33 Acres and Charlie’s Little Italian on Friday. And then wine party, where my blind tasting skills were tested and I generally failed completely. But then again, I was also at 33 Acres and Charlie’s Little Italian just before, and I think what was impressive was my ability to trudge through life despite everything I decided to pour into my mouth that day. Three cheers for my liver, and insert that link here. That link everyone’s been sharing on Facebook about how a glass of wine equals an hour at gym or whatever etc etc etc

marchwinenight

I read this book called “Wine Politics” by Tyler Colman aka Dr. Vino. The first bit was good but very history-laden (the book focusses on France and the US), and the latter parts discussed lots of contemporary issues involving governmental structure, appellation law, wine popularity, wine critics, and evolving attitudes. Really entertaining and informative if not a bit depressing, seeing how so much of the market is controlled by such big and rich companies who sell monochromatic wine. After I finished the book I felt much more enlightened yet grey clouds started to form as if I’d just bitten into forbidden grapes from the Garden of Eden.

Beer that's delicious; wine that's auspicious #drunkreading

Beer that’s delicious; wine that’s auspicious #drunkreading

Class was about the South of France and South America, not only in terms of wine but business as well. 9 wines. Oi. Some of them were shit so I guess you gotta make up for it.

The non-vintaged Concha Y Toro “Frontera” Merlot ($9) was impressive in my opinion, with a bit of gentle greenness and simple plum, showing – at least – some varietal character despite its bareness. The J.P. Chenet 2013 Pinot Noir ($14), on the other hand, was confected and sort of gross, being simultaneously unripe yet disjointedly and artificially ripe at the same time. I once worked at a store that sold this regularly, and one colleague bought this often because it “looked expensive” and he thought it impressed his girlfriend or something. K.

Two blends from the south of France were next: the Domaine Modat 2010 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany ($39) was notably textured and brawny, with lots of evolved black fruit and spice, while the Hecht & Bannier 2011 Saint-Chinian ($30) had more tar and garrigue notes to display, though its body was a bit lighter.

Some whites in the middle to refresh our palates I suppose (though I thought both of them were kinda gross), and despite their blandness they illustrated something, at least, with the French Baron Philippe de Rothschild 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($13) showing much less grassy character than the Chilean Veramonte 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($14), because the grapes from the former were grown in a much generally warmer and thus less suitable climate for Savvy Blanc. I didn’t even pick up on the grassiness in the first wine (why are tasting Pinot Grigio in this class?) and so I ventured a vague guess of Picpoul. I still think the Chilean wine was kinda only okay but I’d pick it over that first one any day.

Carmenere was bound to appear somewhere in the flight, with its tomato soup head evaporating from the glass and into all of our noses. The Bisquertt 2012 “Ecos de Rulo” Carmenere ($20) had lots of meaty fruit to support the tomato leaf character which was rather nice. In comparison, the Intriga 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon ($28) seemed so earthy and herb-scented that I definitely thought it was a Cahors chosen to provide a contrast to the last wine – the Vistalba 2012 “Corte C” ($20) – in the flight, but alas, it was a Chilean Cab.

I’m supposed to go to a party on Friday. Hmm.

Concha Y Toro “Frontera” Merlot  – WSET Tasting Note:

Concha Y Toro "Frontera" MerlotEyes: clear, med+ ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, red fruit, ripe black cherries, hint of jam, green pepper, floral, plum
Mouth: dry, med body, med+ intensity, med fine tannin, med acid, med alcohol, red fruit, earth, ripe black cherry, violets, plum, med length
All in all: Good quality: impressive intensity and fruit given the price, even if the intensity and fruit are both simple and a bit average, respectively. Drink now: not suitable for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Merlot from Chile; 3 years old.
Is really:
Inexpensive Merlot from Central Valley, Chile; NV.

Producer: Concha Y Toro
Designation: 
“Frontera”
Region: 
Chile
Sub-Region: 
Central Valley
Variety:
 Merlot
ABV:
 12%
Vintage:
 NV
Tasted:
 March 9, 2015
Price:
 $9

J.P. Chenet 2013 Pinot Noir – WSET Tasting Note:

J.P. Chenet 2013 Pinot NoirEyes: clear, med ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, red fruit, overripe cherry, confection, estery fruit
Mouth: dry, med- body, med intensity, med- gritty tannin, med acid, med- length, overripe cherry, red fruit, tart cherry, med alcohol, simple, gross.
All in all: Acceptable quality: it’s not faulty and it’s cleanly made to some extent, but the simple flavours are simultaneously tartly unripe and disjointedly confected. Short (thank God), with not much varietal character. Drink now: not suitable for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Inexpensive Merlot from Chile; 3 years old.
Is really:
Inexpensive Pinot Noir from France; 2 years old.

Producer: J.P. Chenet
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
France
Sub-Region: 
N/A
Variety:
 Pinot Noir
ABV:
 12%
Vintage:
 2013
Tasted:
 March 9, 2015
Price:
 $14

Domaine Modat 2010 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany – WSET Tasting Note:

Domaine Modat 2010 Côtes du Roussillon Villages CaramanyEyes: clear, deep ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing, red fruit, black cherry, plum, black fruit, oak, blackberry, mineral, white pepper, earth, sweet spice
Mouth: dry, med+ body, pronounced intensity, med+ chalky tannin, med acid, ripe black fruit, earth, high alcohol, blackberry, mineral, white pepper, spice, med+ length
All in all: Very good quality: brightness and intensity of fruit are well-balanced which might be a bit trickier for grapes grown in a much warmer climate. Length is relatively long, but alcohol sticks out in the slightest. Drink now: not suitable for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced GSM blend from the Languedoc; 3 years old.
Is really:
High-priced Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany from Roussillon, France; 5 years old.

Producer: Domaine Modat
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
France
Sub-Region: 
Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany AOC, Roussillon
Variety:
 Syrah (45%), Grenache (30%), Carignan (15%)
ABV:
 15%
Vintage:
 2010
Tasted:
 March 9, 2015
Price:
 $39

Hecht & Bannier 2011 Saint-Chinian – WSET Tasting Note:

Hecht & Bannier 2011 Saint-ChinianEyes: clear, deep ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing, black fruit, herbal, very floral, violets, hint of bergamot, garrigue, bramble, dried meat, smoke, spice
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med+ intensity, med+ chalky tannin, med acid, earth, flowers, black fruit, dried floral, med+ alcohol, black pepper, med length
All in all: Very good quality: lots of complex herbal and floral character in the wine that joins the powerful black fruit. A bit brawny and misses a bit of finesse, but has lots of spiciness to make up for it. Drink now: not suitable for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina; 2 years old.
Is really:
High-priced Saint Chinian from Languedoc, France; 4 years old.

Producer: Hecht & Bannier
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
France
Sub-Region: 
Saint-Chinian AOC, Languedoc
Variety:
 Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre
ABV:
 14%
Vintage:
 2011
Tasted:
 March 9, 2015
Price:
 $30

Baron Philippe de Rothschild 2013 Sauvignon Blanc – WSET Tasting Note:

Baron Philippe de Rothschild 2013 Sauvignon BlancEyes: clear, pale lemon, legs
Nose: clean, med intensity, youthful, citrus, mineral, lemon, hints of green apple, peach, white peach, hint grassiness
Mouth: dry, med- body, med+ intensity, citrus, lemon, green fruit, green apple, med+ acid, med alcohol, mineral, short length
All in all: Good quality: a bit of fresh intensity and quaffable character sort of makes up for the simplicity, shortness, and lack of any strong varietal character. Drink now: not suitable for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Inexpensive Picpoul de Pinet from Languedoc, France; 2 years old.
Is really:
Inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc from Pays d’Oc IGP, France; 2 years old.

Producer: Baron Philippe de Rothschild
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
France
Sub-Region: 
Pays d’Oc IGP
Variety:
 Sauvignon Blanc
ABV:
 12.5%
Vintage:
 2013
Tasted:
 March 9, 2015
Price:
 $13

Veramonte 2013 Sauvignon Blanc – WSET Tasting Note:

Veramonte 2013 Sauvignon BlancEyes: clear, pale lemon, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, citrus, mineral, lemon, herbal note, grapefruit
Mouth: dry, med- body, med+ intensity, citrus, grapefruit, lemon, mineral, grassy, med+ acid, hint phenolic, med alcohol, med- length
All in all: Good quality: similar to the previous wine, where main positives include freshness, clean winemaking, and quaffable character. There’s more structure and varietal character in this one, which perhaps makes up for the simplicity and briefness.
Identity Guess:
Inexpensive Côtes de Gascogne from southwest France; 2 years old.
Is really:
Inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca Valley, Chile; 2 years old.

Producer: Veramonte
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Chile
Sub-Region: 
Casablanca Valley
Variety:
 Sauvignon Blanc
ABV:
 13.5%
Vintage:
 2013
Tasted:
 March 9, 2015
Price:
 $14

Bisquertt 2012 “Ecos de Rulo” Carmenere – WSET Tasting Note:

Bisquertt 2012 "Ecos de Rulo" CarmenereEyes: clear, deep ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing, black fruit, blackberry, cassis, herbaceous note, earth, blackberry skin, spice, leather, hint meaty, tomato leaf, tomato soup
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med+ intensity, med+ powdery tannin, med acid, med length, med+ alcohol, black fruit, herbaceous, spice, leather
All in all: Good quality: there are lots of complex flavours here though perhaps it’s missing just a touch more fruit and concentration to balance out the pleasant greenness. Intense and concentrated with great structure supporting the flavours. Average length. Drink now: not suitable for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Carmenere from Chile; 3 years old.
Is really:
Mid-priced Carmenere from Colchagua Valley, Chile; 3 years old.

Producer: Bisquertt
Designation: 
“Ecos de Rulo”
Region: 
Chile
Sub-Region: 
Colchagua Valley
Variety:
 Carmenere
ABV:
 14%
Vintage:
 2o12
Tasted:
 March 9, 2015
Price:
 $20

Intriga 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – WSET Tasting Note:

Intriga 2011 Cabernet SauvignonEyes: clear, deep ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing, earth, dried violets, tar, black fruit, dried black fruit, leather, licorice, figs, menthol, herbs, Vicks VapoRub
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med+ intensity, pronounced fine tannin, med- acid, dried black fruit, dried flowers, earth, leather, licorice, tar, med+ alcohol, med+ length
All in all: Very good quality: lots of earthy and tarry complexity here. Pronounced tannin fills in where acid doesn’t, and concentration connects everything together. Alcohol is a bit hot despite 13%. Drink now: not suitable for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Cahors from southwest France; 5 years old.
Is really:
Mid-priced Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo Valley, Chile; 4 years old.

Producer: Intriga
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Chile
Sub-Region: 
Maipo Valley
Variety:
 Cabernet Sauvignon
ABV:
 13%
Vintage:
 2011
Tasted:
 March 9, 2015
Price:
 $28

Vistalba 2012 “Corte C” – WSET Tasting Note:

Vistalba 2012 "Corte C"Eyes: clear, deep purple, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, youthful, bramble, dark fruit, floral, hints of blueberry compote, ripe but not jammy blue fruit
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med+ intensity, med to med+ fine tannin, med- to med acid, med+ alcohol, blueberry compote, bergamot, hints of ripe black fruit, floral, med length
All in all: Good quality: there’s enough texture and juiciness to hold the ripe fruit together The punchy and concentrated blue fruit is ripe but not jammy, though the flavours could be more complex and persistent. Drink now: not suitable for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina; 3 years old.
Is really:
Mid-priced Malbec (80%) Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) blend from Mendoza, Argentina; 3 years old.

Producer: Vistalba
Designation: 
“Corte C”
Region: 
Argentina
Sub-Region: 
Mendoza
Variety:
 Malbec (80%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%)
ABV:
 14%
Vintage:
 2012
Tasted:
 March 9, 2015
Price:
 $20

Josh

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