A Tasting for Young Sommeliers –Part One

We conducted a winetasting today for “Young Sommeliers”, held at VINO.   Thank you to Warren Shon for some of the wines he provided & to all who came!

This is yet another attempt to help educate….one of our goals for 2016.  The object of this blind tasting class, however, was not to identify the grape variety, nor the soil, nor the vintage & not even the producer. The questions we asked instead included, “is this a good wine”….”How much would you pay for the wine”….”What kind of foods would you think about serving it with”… and “when and how would you recommend this wine and for what reasons”.  After all, questions like this, I believe, are more pertinent to young sommeliers who are working on the restaurant floor.

somm1The first flight featured 3 white wines, which I would categorize as “aromatic”.  Although really “good” ones are a challenge to find, I find these sleek, high refined, ethereal, minerally, remarkably light, physiological ripe though less alcoholic renditions undeniably come in handy when pairing with contemporary fusion foods.  My recent experience at the Paws Up WinterFest clearly re-enforced that to me. (Please check that post out to better understand what I mean.)  The continually challenging secret is finding the “good” ones.  Here are 3.  SOMM2

In the next flight, we tasted 2 Chenin Blanc based white wines from the Vouvray appellation of Loire Valley, France.  The intent here was to show the difference between one which is lighter, more ethereal, mesmerizingly minerally & therefore much more friendly to a wide range of foods (Champalou) versus one which is much more “trophy” in style (Huet).  Showy, mega intense & profoundly structured styled wines like Huet, we find have a much smaller window of foods they can work with.   I think blind tasting these wines side by side clearly delivered that message. Furthermore, because of our thought process & questions, the comparison of the 2 wines’ price tags (Huet being significantly more pricey) also made the quality for the dollar thought clearer in terms of potential sales velocity because of price & therefore dollars tied up in inventory.   All 3 of these thoughts are, in my opinion, part of being a wine buying sommelier.SOMM3

The next duo featured 2 wines from the same producer, same vineyard…..young & older.  I am one of those fans who is captivated with the delicious-ness & incredible food friendliness of well grown & produced Beaujolais.  We have a long history with the Fleurie from Chignard because of that.  By serving one young & one older side by side, one gets a better understanding how the wine changes in profile with bottle age.  The fruit isn’t as exhuberant & forward & the acids & tannins get much more harmonious.  For sommeliers lookingSOMM4 to pair wines to foods, here then is another potential “tool” in your pocket to possibly consider when recommending a wine for a dish.

In this flight, we tasted 2 red wines, which I would categorize as aromatic…..at least in these cases.  At our recent food & wine experience at Paws Up Resort, we needed red wines which could pair well with fusion prepared elk, venison, chicken & duck.  As readers will recall in the Paws Up post, we paired the Cantine Valpane Grignolino with Resort Chef Ben Jones’ Elk dish.   It really was a fabulous match, as the wine was especially well suited for leaner meats like venison or elk.  Well, as much as we love the Grignolino, this small Piemontese family run winery also produces superb Freisa as well as Barbera, which by the way, greatly over deliver quality for the dollar.  I also believed this Freisa would have worked its magic with the elk….especially one done in a very rustic, hearty preparation, as this wine is wildly rustic, masculine & gamey too.  Paul Furst undoubtedly produces for my palate, the finest Pinot Noirs out of Germany that I have had.  They don’t have any hard edges, are delicately nuanced & intricate in a very demure, subtle manner.  SOMM5So, when one the chefs lightly layered his duck dish by adding a little curry into the sauce, we knew this wine could navigate that pretty well, because of its finesse, refinement & remarkably non confrontational profile.

WOW!, here is a very remarkably light & airy rose.  I am truly amazed at how the pink wine category has really stepped forward in terms of quality, especially over the past 5 to 7 years. While there are now thankfully more & more good renditions available, wines at the top of the heap like this, deftly feature riveting, mesmerizing minerality which not only enhances the perceived lightness/airness, but also really helps butress the wine’s crisp, refreshing, food friendly edge.  This wine, which happens to be from the island of   Corsica, sets a new standard to measure others by, at least for me.  The person who introduced me to this wine, simply wrote–“it’s like drinking a cloud.  After you swallow, all that’s left is perfume“.  Definitely one of a kind!

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