Tasting & Describing Wine

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Tuesday was an amazing kick-off to what will be an electrifying wine school season here at the SF Wine Center.  Advanced Level Certified Sommelier and General Manager of Meteor Vineyard Jason Alexander lead our first class of the year into the world of tasting and describing wines.  Having the class taste each wine blindly, Jason guided our eyes, noses, and palates to truly utilize our senses in order to understand the wines.  Paying close attention to the wines’ clarity, color, intensity, aromas, notes, body, tannin, acidity, and finish were just some of the aspects that we closely evaluated.  Jason also presented the class with some helpful hints as to the distinct characteristics that certain grape varietals typically depict on the nose and palate.  We also discussed terroir, viticulture, climate, winemaking processes, barrel and bottle aging and how exactly those factors all contribute to what we taste in our glass.

We tasted through a rather diverse flight of wines focusing on both Old World and New World regions.  Without knowing it, since no one was told what any of the wines were, we tasted some elegant Oregon Pinot, crisp German Riesling, earthy Syrah from northern Rhone, green peppery New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, velvety right bank Bordeaux, and more.  Each wine exemplified the particular features that one would find when drinking these wines.

My favorite for the night?

Marchesi di Barolo – 2005 Barolo – Piedmont, Italy

Having spent a whole day at their estate with proprietor Anna Abbona last summer, I naturally have a soft spot for this wine.  But that’s beside the point that this Nebbiolo is dazzling with luscious dark chocolate covered cherries on the nose.  The palate expanded on that while adding in hints of creamy vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, nuttiness, and a leathery finish.  Upholding its acidity, bold tannins, and succulent cherry notes, this Barolo drinks lovely now but will continue to impress for many years to come.

Many thanks to both Jason and Brian for a marvelous start to the new year!

-Julie Albin

Wine List

1.  JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2007 – Mosel Valley, Germany

2.  Hunter’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – New Zealand

3.  Joseph Drouhin Chablis Secher 2009 1er Cru – Chablis, France

4.  Holloran Le Pavillon Vnyd Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2005– Willamette Valley, OR

5.  Sierra Cantabria Reserva Rioja 2006 – Rioja, Spain

6.  Bernard Burgaud Cote Rotie 2008 – Northern Rhone, France

7.  Marchesi di Barolo 2005 Barolo – Piedmont, Italy

8.  Chateau Monbousquet Saint Emilion Grand Cru 1995 – Bordeaux, France

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