Friday, October 30, 2009
Though it was Game 1 of the Series, I made my way to class as I've been doing each Wednesday for the past several weeks. Plus, it was sparkling and sweet wine. Who would want to miss that class?
Before sharing the highlights, there is one thing every wine fan needs to understand. The only wine that can be called Champagne is a sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France. I know this is truly snobby, but I really do not like when people refer to a non-Champagne sparkler as Champagne. I know this is supposed to be wine for all and all for wine, but there are some things I can't abide!
So what new things did I learn this week? The highlights:
-There are two methods for making sparkling wine: the traditional method and the tank method. The traditional method is a lot more labor intensive and thus a lot more expensive. Not surprisingly, champagne or sparklers made this way are generally considered better and are often more expensive. That said, I have seen $20 bottles made in the traditional way. The way to tell from the label is to look for the words Cremant or Methode Champenoise. Spanish Cava is also made using the traditional method. Most Italian sparkling wine is made using the tank method.
-Almost all champagne on the market is non vintage. Very rarely do they actually have years they can consider vintages. 1996 was a huge vintage and 2002 was the last vintage released.
-There are several different types of sweet wine and several different ways of making them. The most highly regarded dessert wines (Sauternes, Tokaji, Austrian and German BA and TBA) are made from grapes that develop Botrytis which is known as the "noble rot." Technically the grapes are diseased, but Botrytis tends to add a lot of wonderful tropical and nutty flavors to the grape. Also, it's very risky and labor intensive because it means leaving your grapes on the vine a lot longer.
Tonight I'm starting off a 5 course meal with a French sweet wine. The wine was made with grapes that developed Botrytis.
Of course we will be pairing several other wines throughout the meal so check back in the next day or two!
Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
-Syrah grapes are a lot like Cabernet grapes. They're both small and thick skinned and grow best in cooler climates. And both do well aged in oak.
-On the other hand, Syrah and Grenache are very different grapes. Syrah is tannic, thick skinned and has a lot of black fruit on the palette while Grenache has high alcohol content, thin skins and a lot of red fruit on the palette. This is why they're often blended - they balance each other out. Grenache smooths out the tannins in Syrah and makes the wine more immediately drinkable while Syrah helps tone down the alcohol in Grenache. Mouvedre, another grape is often added to Syrah and Grenache blends because it's not as expensive to cultivate and it adds spice to the blend.-2007 Rhone vintage is legend-(wait for it)-ary. I cannot wait to pick up several bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape from 2007. Chateauneuf du Pape is one of the best regarded areas in the Southern Rhone region and it's one of the reasons I am so into wine.
-Riesling, like Chardonnay, is incredibly expressive of its "terroir" and the climate in which it was grown. Case in point - we tried an Australia Riesling next to a German Riesling (from one of the best regions - Mosel) and they were extremely different. The Australian Riesling had a palette that reminded me more of a Sauvignon Blanc.
This weekend I'm heading up to my friends' wedding in New Hampshire. Though New Hampshire isn't a wine region, I expect to be enjoying several varietals and hope to have something share after the weekend.
Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Argentinian Torrontes (don't know the producer) - Laurie D. - the great trickster
Monday, October 5, 2009
Blue Hill's menu consists of a list of seasonal ingredients and you choose from a 5 course or 8 course meal. On Wednesdays and Thursdays they offer a 3 course meal and on Sundays it's a 4 course meal. Upon taking your order, a member of the wait staff will ask if you have any food allergies or do not like a certain food. The chef will work around whatever you don't like or cannot eat.