For the first time, I'm disappointed to say that I haven't been doing enough homework. My palette is still behind (or "on the short bus" as I like to say), but we all know I will continue to work on it. Plus, I found that side by side tastings seem to help because like so many other things, tasting is contextual (food, other wines and I swear, mood, can definitely change the taste).
Tonight we learned about the classic Burgundy grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We then tasted 2 Burgundy Chardonnays and a Burgundy Pinot Noir side by side with their California counterparts. Tasting the same type of grape from two very different climates intepreted in by two different winemakers was a great learning experience. The nose was so much easier to discern as were the flavors. I'm still not getting everything I could or should from the glass, but I'll somehow find a way to soldier on and study up.
Other than the side by side tastings, here are the other highlights:
-Chardonnay can grow almost anywhere and it can be made in several different regions. On the other hand, Pinot Noir is the most fragile, thin skinned grape. It ferments quickly, punctures easily and has to be handled with a great deal of care to be made into a good wine.
-When it comes to Burgundy wines, there are 4 levels beginning with Bourgogne Blance or Bourgogne Rouge (meaning the grapes are from anywhere in Burgundy), from there it goes to Villages and then the name of the town or area the grapes are from and the next level up is Premier Cru and then Grand Cru. Beyond that, I can't tell you a lot more about Burgundy because it's confusing as heck and well, I was drinking wine during class tonight.
-Malolactic fermentation happens naturally in the winemaking process and it's what happens when malic acid becomes lactic acid. Red wines always go through the process while white wines don't always complete the process. It all depends on how much lactic acid the winemaker wants in the white wine. The more lactic acid, the creamier the texture.
Until the next swirl, sip or quaff,