Archive for February, 2012

Terroir in Pinot Noir

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

On a special Wednesday night class, the SF Wine Center had the wonderful pleasure of welcoming Manhattan-based Master of Wine Christy Canterbury.  Christy is one of just 299 living Masters of Wine in the entire world, only seven of which are American women.  She has worked all over the world and opened restaurants in places like Istanbul, Doha, Vancouver, and Bora Bora and is currently a wine buyer, writer, educator, and judging panelist.  Christy’s topic of choice for class: Terroir in Pinot Noir.  Focusing on the intensely distinct variances of the Pinot Noir grape, Christy chose to focus on comparisons between those of Burgundy, New Zealand, and domestic regions like Russian River, Central Coast, and Oregon.

Christy began the class by explaining in depth the finicky grape that Pinot Noir is and how it attributes to the incredible diversity from region to region.  She then led the class on proper wine tasting techniques from how to look at the wine all the way to understanding its balance of alcohol.  After that, Christy briefed everyone on what certain characteristics and aromas are typically found in Pinot Noir, pointing out examples like barnyard and earthiness.

As the class tasted through the flight of wines, Christy explained the terroir of these particular regions, describing the soils and climates.  The class learned interesting details such as the southern hemisphere tending to have cooler temperatures, as well as the fact that Central Otago of New Zealand is the main area for continental climate in that country.  Thanks to Christy, the class was exposed to fantastic industry insights and beneficial information in order to help them understand and enjoy this pernickety grape.

My Favorite Wine of the Night?

Felton Road Central Otago Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2010 – New Zealand

This youthful wine has a deep colored core with luscious aromas of burnt marshmallows and strawberries.  Light in body with juicy acidity, this Pinot Noir presents the palate with gorgeous floral notes of violet along with red berries, cinnamon, black pepper and new leather on the finish.

A big thank you to Christy for joining us and leading this magnificent class!

Wine List

1.      Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir 2008 – New Zealand

2.      Felton Road Central Otago Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2010 – New Zealand

3.      Casa Marin Lo Abarca Litoral Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 – San Antonio Valley, Chile

4.      JK Carriere Dundee Hills Anderson Family Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 – Willamette Valley, OR

5.      Foxen Block 8 Bien Nacido Vnyd Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2008 – Santa Barbara Cnty, CA

6.      Patz & Hall Santa Lucia Highlands Pisoni Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 – Central Coast, CA

7.      Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Lindsay Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 – Sonoma County, CA

8.      Paul Pernot Pommard Les Noizons 2005 – Cote de Beaune, Burgundy

9.      Domaine de L’Arlot Nuits-St-Georges Clos des Forets 2009 1er Cru – Cote de Nuits,Burgundy

10.  Domaine Dujac Vosne-Romanee Les Beaux-Monts 2007 1er Cru – Cote de Nuits, Burgundy

Tasting & Describing Wine

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Tuesday was an amazing kick-off to what will be an electrifying wine school season here at the SF Wine Center.  Advanced Level Certified Sommelier and General Manager of Meteor Vineyard Jason Alexander lead our first class of the year into the world of tasting and describing wines.  Having the class taste each wine blindly, Jason guided our eyes, noses, and palates to truly utilize our senses in order to understand the wines.  Paying close attention to the wines’ clarity, color, intensity, aromas, notes, body, tannin, acidity, and finish were just some of the aspects that we closely evaluated.  Jason also presented the class with some helpful hints as to the distinct characteristics that certain grape varietals typically depict on the nose and palate.  We also discussed terroir, viticulture, climate, winemaking processes, barrel and bottle aging and how exactly those factors all contribute to what we taste in our glass.

We tasted through a rather diverse flight of wines focusing on both Old World and New World regions.  Without knowing it, since no one was told what any of the wines were, we tasted some elegant Oregon Pinot, crisp German Riesling, earthy Syrah from northern Rhone, green peppery New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, velvety right bank Bordeaux, and more.  Each wine exemplified the particular features that one would find when drinking these wines.

My favorite for the night?

Marchesi di Barolo – 2005 Barolo – Piedmont, Italy

Having spent a whole day at their estate with proprietor Anna Abbona last summer, I naturally have a soft spot for this wine.  But that’s beside the point that this Nebbiolo is dazzling with luscious dark chocolate covered cherries on the nose.  The palate expanded on that while adding in hints of creamy vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, nuttiness, and a leathery finish.  Upholding its acidity, bold tannins, and succulent cherry notes, this Barolo drinks lovely now but will continue to impress for many years to come.

Many thanks to both Jason and Brian for a marvelous start to the new year!

-Julie Albin

Wine List

1.  JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese 2007 – Mosel Valley, Germany

2.  Hunter’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 – New Zealand

3.  Joseph Drouhin Chablis Secher 2009 1er Cru – Chablis, France

4.  Holloran Le Pavillon Vnyd Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2005– Willamette Valley, OR

5.  Sierra Cantabria Reserva Rioja 2006 – Rioja, Spain

6.  Bernard Burgaud Cote Rotie 2008 – Northern Rhone, France

7.  Marchesi di Barolo 2005 Barolo – Piedmont, Italy

8.  Chateau Monbousquet Saint Emilion Grand Cru 1995 – Bordeaux, France