Archive for July, 2011

Tasting & Describing Wine – July 26

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

This week’s class was Tasting & Describing Wine with Mary Burnham, freelance writer and author of Food and Wine Magazine’s 2012 Wine Guide. Mary spent a lot of time here at SFWC tasting through her samples and writing her reviews. It was a blast to be able to taste the wines when she was finished with them and hear her impressions. Now that the guide is finished and at the printers, we’re glad to have Mary back here as a wine school instructor.

Our Tasting & Describing Wine class is the second in our intro series, and it focuses on blind tasting and interpreting our senses. We observe the smells, sensations, and flavors of the wine and draw conclusions as to where it was made and what the grape varieties are. For beginners, it is a really helpful class in teaching tasters how to recognize certain characteristics and match them with a particular wine. Mary did a superb job of taking us through the components of the wine, from flavors to acidity to body to tannin, and helping the students determine what the wine was.

The wines were typical expressions of their grape variety and origin, and it was a delicious lineup:

1.  Comte Lafond Sancerre 2009

2.  Loimer Lois Gruner Veltliner 2009

3.  Stony Hill Napa Valley Gewurztraminer 2004

4.  Chateau de Pierreux Brouilly Beaujolais 2009

5.  Lazy River Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir 2005

6.  Oddero Mondoca Di Bussia Soprana Barolo 1996

7. Chateau Laforge Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2003

8.  Stuhlmuller Vineyards Alexander Valley Estate Zinfandel 2005

Thanks again to Mary for a great class and to the students who attended – we had a packed house! Let us know what you thought.

Until next time… cheers!

Melanie Friedman

Wines of Spain – July 19

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

This week in wine school Jordan Mackay, James Beard-award winning author, took us on a tour of Spain. We traveled to Cataluna – home of Cava, Rias Baixas – home of Albarino, Rueda – home of Verdejo, Navarra – home of Garnacha, Rioja – home of Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero – another Tempranillo hotspot, and Priorat – famed for Garnacha, Carignan, Cab Sauv, Merlot, and Syrah. From value wines to coveted classics and newcomers, Spain runs the gamut. The Cava, Albarino, and Verdejo were all refreshing, lively and costing around $20 or less. The 1993 White Rioja was super complex, with Sherry-like notes and a creaminess that was very unique.  One of our storage members, Shirley, brought a 2005 Rioja to share, and we compared this with the 2004 Muga in our lineup. Muga is a more traditional producer and they use mostly French oak, whereas the Remirez de Ganuza that Shirley brought was a more modern style, more fruit-forward with heavy American oak. The last two wines were very special, high-end wines from Ribera del Duero and Priorat. They had a complexity and finesse that was noticeable, and the class loved these wines. Personally the Bodegas Emilio Moro Malleolus Valderramiso 2007 from Ribera del Duero was my favorite!

The wines:

1. Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava

2. Fillaboa Albariño 2009 – Rias Baixas

3.  Condesa Eylo Verdejo 2008 – Rueda

4.  R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia White Rioja 1993

5.  El Chaparral de Vega Sondoa Garnacha 2009 – Navarra

6.  Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja 2004

Bonus: Remirez de Ganuza Rioja 2005

7.  Bodegas Emilio Moro Malleolus Valderramiso 2007 – Ribera del Duero

8.  Dits del Terra Priorat 2005 – Garnacha & Carignan

Thanks to Jordan for a great class, to Shirley for contributing her wine, and to the students for attending!


Melanie Friedman

Intro to Wine – July 12

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Summer School @ SFWC kicked off last night with Introduction to Wine, a great class for the novice wine fan to learn about the basics of wine making, wine regions, styles of wines, and classic favorites. We talked at length about terroir, the French notion of climate, soil and aspect, and their effects on viticulture. Students practiced identifying aromas and flavors in wine and learned how to describe dryness level, acidity, tannin and length.

The wines:

1.  Jean Lallement Brut Grand Cru NV – Verzenay

2.  Matua Paretai Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009

3.  Freestone Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2008

4.  Lumos Temperance Hill Vineyard Oregon Pinot Noir 2006

5.  Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2007 – Sangiovese blend from Tuscany

6.  Jean-Luc Colombo Les Forots Cote du Rhone 2006 – Syrah

7.  Charles Krug Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Our Intro to Wine Series also includes Tasting & Describing Wine (July 26) and Old World vs. New World Wines (September 13). The intro series classes are designed, alone or together, to create a solid base from which to do deeper dives into specific regions, so you can take them in any order and start building your base of knowledge.  If you missed Intro to Wine, try another class in the meantime. We’ll offer it again in a few months.

If you know you’d like to take advantage of the whole intro series, check out our 5-class Intro to Wine Pass and save on these 3 classes plus 2 more!

Thanks to our James Beard award winning author and instructor, Jordan Mackay, for a fun intro class and to the students who attended. Let us know what you thought!

See you next time!


Melanie Friedman