What happens when a bunch of scientists get together for some wine education? Last week San Francisco Wine Center found out as we hosted “GLG Wine Labs,” a private wine tasting event for Gerson Lehrman Group, which is a membership network for one-on-one professional learning comprised of thought leaders and practitioners. In attendance were 15 senior life science executives plus SFWC instructor Jordan Mackay. The tasting featured four old and new world wine comparisons, with the goal being to educate the group on the differences between the wines and the factors that cause those differences, including climate, elevation, soil, grape varietal, barrel selection and aging.
The first comparison involved Rose – one from Loire, France and the other from Sonoma, California. The French rose was a lighter, more salmon color, with good minerality and acidity and lower alcohol. The American rose was more fruit forward and oaky, with higher alcohol and a more pronounced pink color. Jordan explained the three main methods used for making rose wine – one being to pick the grapes early when their acidity is high to create a light, crisp pink wine, another being to bleed off some juice from fermenting red wine to further concentrate that wine and create a rose wine as a byproduct, and the third being to mix red and white wine (this is not done often). In the old world producers tend to make rose by the first method, whereas in the new world rose wine is often made by the second.
The second comparison – Riesling – introduced another aspect of wine: bottle variation. On the Oregon Riesling, the first bottle was corked, so we got a lot of sneaker funk and wet cardboard. On the fresh bottle we got more typical new world Riesling aromas of rubber and lime. The German Riesling was markedly different, with a deep golden color and an oxidized/developed nose of caramel, raisin, honey and apricot. The second bottle was fresher, with peach, celery, toasted corn and honey developing on the palate.
The third comparison was a beautiful exercise in well-made Pinot Noir – one from Burgundy and one from the Anderson Valley in Northern California. The Burgundy had a perfumed nose with delicate red fruit, warm spice and nice acidity. The Anderson Pinot had an herbaceous nose with ripe fruit and oak spice.
Finally, the fourth set – Syrah – showed a nice contrast between Rhone and California, with the former being a very typical representation of the grape with black pepper and gamey meat qualities, while the California was more fruit forward.
Overall, the event played well to this scientific crowd who was able to let their inner wine geek shine. Cheers, GLG!
- Domaine Laporte le Bouquet Loire Valley Rose de Pinot Noir 2012 (France)
- Reuling Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Rose 2012 (California)
- Max Ferdinand Richter Graacher Domprost Mosel Valley Riesling Kabinett 2004 (Germany)
- J Christopher Willamette Valley Riesling 2004 (Oregon)
- Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret Savigny-les-Beaune Les Narbantons 1er Cru 2011 (Burgundy, France)
- Copain “Les Voisins” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2011 (California)
- Saint Cosme Saint Joseph 2010 (Northern Rhone Valley, France)
- Alban Vineyards “Patrina” Central Coast Estate Syrah 2010 (California)
These wines are available for purchase through SFWC – contact us if interested!
– Melanie Solomon