Archive for November, 2011

Wine Collecting Fundamentals

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

The SF Wine Center took a little twist at this Tuesday’s class on wine collecting fundamentals.  Wine Gavel’s Auction Director Gence Alton joined the SF Wine Center staff as we explored the ins and outs of the world of wine auctions and collecting.  What made this evening’s class so special, besides the extraordinary list of wines tasted, was that this session was less of a lecture and more of a discussion.  Students were able to express their thoughts on collecting and share their personal tips on buying and selling wine.

Gence started the class by providing some basic information not only about Wine Gavel, but also how wine auctioning came about in the world.  These topics lead to discussions about excellent wine buying tools and references like and  It was so great to have industry veterans lead the conversations, but for the students to be equally involved in the dialog.

We then moved on to talk about the wines themselves and what to do with them.  Between understanding the influence of premox, understanding how to determine a wine’s aging ability, and proper storage of wine, the students were given a helpful crash course to get them in the right direction with their wine collecting.  With a stunning list of wines to pair with all of that valuable information, how could this class be anything but amazing?

My Top Pick for the Night?

Hundred Acre Ark Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: 96-99 pts

This wine was a jaw dropper, even after my 4th tasting of it.  Beautifully perfumed with aromas of fresh black plum, lavender, and savory notes, this wine was a favorite in the class well before it was even tasted.  On the palate this wine delivered even more than expected with its black plum, cinnamon, cloves, and the sensational characteristics of Pâté with peppercorns.  With its remarkable fruit and brilliant acidity, this wine will be well worth the wait in many years to come.

Wine List:

  1. Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillon 2007: 92 pts (6 btls- $125)
  2. Kistler Hyde Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay 2008: 96 pts ($120)
  3. Chateau Leoville Las Cases 1989 – Saint Julien, Bordeaux: 96 pts ($225)
  4. Château Pape Clement Rouge 2005 – Pessac-Léognan; 98 pts (15 btls, 375ml- $150)
  5. Antinori Tignanello 2007 – Toscana red (Super Tuscan): 95 pts (48 btls – $75)
  6. Colgin Cariad Red 2000 – Napa Valley: 95 pts  ($225)
  7. Verite La Muse 2007: 100 pts (24 btls – $300)
  8. Hundred Acre Ark Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: 96-99 pts (30 btls – $275)

Tasting and Describing Wine

Monday, November 14th, 2011

This past Tuesday’s class on Tasting and Describing wine was atypical and pleasantly unorthodox.  Led by author of the 2011 Food & Wine Magazine Guide to Wine, Marry Burnham had the class blindly taste through 8 different wines from both Old World and New World regions.  From French Chablis to Napa Valley Riesling, the list of wines truly allowed Mary to blindly expose the class to a wide array of wine styles.

During the class it was discovered that not only was the class blindly evaluating wines, but we snuck in a few fastballs at Mary to show the class what true wine evaluation is.  With her prepared list of the wines tasted, we made a couple of switches to the wines without informing Mary.  Sneaky as it was, the class was thrilled to see Mary in action as she called out the discrepancies to the wines listed.  Using the expertise of her palate, Mary quickly discovered that certain wines were not as they were listed and led the class through her conclusions as to what they were.

As unconventional as this tactic of ours might have been, the students were more than delighted for the chance to witness the utter capability of a wine expert like Mary to blindly evaluate wines as if they were a puzzle to be solved.

Thanks for being a good sport Mary and for leading an excellent class!

-Julie Albin

Wine List:

1.  Alphonse Mellot Sancerre “La Moussiere” 2009 – Loire Valley, France

2.  William Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux 2009 – Chablis, France

3.  Stony Hill Napa Valley White Riesling 2004 – California

4.  Lucien Albrecht Gewurztraminer Cuvee Marie 2007 – Alsace

5.  Clos de la Tech Domaine Lois Louise Pinot Noir 2006 – Santa Cruz Mts, CA

6.  Vina Real Reserva Rioja 2004 – Rioja, Spain

7.  Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape “Cuvee des Cadettes” 2005 – Rhone

8.  Christian Moueix Pomerol 2006 – Bordeaux, France