Archive for October, 2012

New World vs. Old World Comparative Tasting

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

This past Tuesday we welcomed back our wonderful and ever-smiling Food & Wine Magazine Guide to Wine author Mary Burnham to lead one of her favorite classes, a blind comparative tasting of New World vs. Old World wines.  Those who joined us for this exciting class varied from veterans of the wine business all the way to budding wine enthusiasts.

Mary began the class by presenting some useful information in order to detect what might be from the New World or what is clearly from the Old World.  After setting the class up with these helpful hints we dove right into wines.  Blindly tasting the wines in pairs, each couple represented the same grape varietal, the same vintage, but one presenting the New World and one for Old World.  Without knowing which was which, we had to follow our noses, eyes, and palates to help us uncover these mysteries.  After discussing our observations of each wine and just before Mary would unveil what the wines were, we conducted a vote to see who preferred which.  And the winner?  A very close match at 3-2 and the winner was….Old World!

Out of all of our paired wines, here was the comparison that I found most intriguing.  Knowing that both are from the 2011 vintage, you guess the varietal and which is the New World and Old World!    (Answer at the bottom)

  1. 1. Yellow hued, off-dry, medium body, medium (+) acid, complex with hints of key lime, passionfruit, lychee, orange blossom, honeysuckle, jasmine, apparent yet subtle minerality, and a long white pepper finish.

  1. 2. Pale gold, just slightly effervescent, light body, medium acid, fruity and herbal with notes of ripe peach, apricot, cinnamon, lime leaf, tarragon, light hint of earthy rubber, and a delicate citrus finish.

Thanks to Mary and Brian for an excellent comparative tasting with superb examples of both New World and Old World!

-Julie Albin

Wine List

  1. Villia Maria Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Cellar Selection – New Zealand
  2. La Poussie Sancerre 2010 – Sauvignon Blanc from Loire Valley, FR
  3. Josef Hogl Riesling Federspiel 2011 – Wachau, Austria
  4. Dr. Konstantin Frank Finger Lakes Dry Riesling 2011 – New York State
  5. Bernard Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers 2009 – Chard from Cote de Beaune
  6. Rochioli Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2009 – Sonoma, California
  7. Domaine de la Vougeraie Vougeot Clos du Prieure 2009 – Pinot Noir from Cote de Nuits
  8. Bethel Heights Casteel Reserve Eola-Amity Pinot Noir 2009 – Oregon
  9. Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grezeaux 2002 – Cabernet Franc from Loire Valley, FR
  10. Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2002 – California


#1   OLD WORLD  –   Josef Hogl Riesling Federspiel 2011 – Wachau, Austria

#2   NEW WORLD –   Dr. Konstantin Frank Finger Lakes Dry Riesling 2011 – New York State

Indigenous Varieties of Italy

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Italian powerhouse and current Wine Director of Press Club Mauro Cirilli returned to the SF Wine Center for another knockout class featuring the indigenous varieties of Italy.  Without skipping a beat, Mauro headed strait for the wines as he gave the class his valuable insights to these native wonders that make Italy the incredibly diverse country that it is.  The class was amazed to find out that whereas France is the home to around 50 native varieties, Italy’s indigenous roster reaches upwards of 2,000; each with their own quirks and expressions of their local cuisine and terroir.

Making our way down through our lineup of wines representing regions all over Italy, we tasted some natives from Piemonte, Campania, Veneto, Friuli, and Sicily.  Each varietal presented was carefully chosen in order to exemplify several aspects such as the areas’ climate, soil type, and traditional winemaking practices.  Mauro gave the class excellent background information on each of these grapes, as well as typical aromatics and characteristics that are found in them.  Each grape was truly unique, articulating a wide array of flavors from the beautifully floral Cortese, to the luscious custardy Friulano, to the dusty herbal Raboso.  It is truly phenomenal that of hundreds upon thousands of indigenous varieties, they each have their certain something that distinguishes them from the rest.  But that’s Italy for you!

My Favorite Wine of the Night?

Bera Brachetto 2011 – Piemonte

An exceptionally superb example of Brachetto, this vibrant wine was sweet to the touch with aromas of strawberry, red maraschino cherries, and geranium.  Semi-sweet on the palate with light tannin and lively acidity, this wine finished off the experience with notes of apricots and ruby red grapefruit.

Wine List

  1. Pio Cesare Cortese di Gavi 2010 – Piemonte
  2. Tenuta di Altavilla Villa Matilde Greco di Tufo 2009 – Campania
  3. Azienda Agricola Cos Pithos Bianco Grecanico 2010 – Sicilia
  4. Bastianich Tocai Friulano Plus 2006 – Friuli
  5. Bera Brachetto 2011 – Piemonte
  6. Passopisciaro Rosso Sicilia  2005 – Sicily
  7. Cascina Bongiovanni Dolcetto d’Alba 2010 – Piemonte
  8. Maccari Piave Templaris Raboso 1998 – Veneto
  9. Mastroberadino Radici Taurasi 2000 – Campania
  10. Allegrini Monovitigno Corvina Veronese La Poja 1999 – Valpolicella

Thanks to Mauro and Brian for a stellar class!

-Julie Albin

Introduction to Wine

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Food & Wine Magazine’s Guide to Wine author Mary Burnham returned to the SF Wine Center this past week for what she calls, quite possibly her favorite class topic.  With a unique blend of enthusiasts both new to the world of wine as well as veterans of the business, Mary finds it an absolute thrill to open, or widen, these wine loving eyes to the big picture of this fascinating world of wines.

Mary began by giving every a brief synopsis of how wines are made, where the fruit comes from, where and how to age them, and then of course, how to drink them.  Steering away from overly complicated wine jargon that could make even the most wine savvy people’s heads spin, Mary did drop in a few technical terms, such as Malolactic fermentation, in which everyone was intrigued to learn of these technical properties and processes.

Without too much further adieu, Mary moved on to evaluating the wines by guiding everyone through their senses of sight, smell, taste, and touch.  As we ventured through our amazing list of wines, the class found certain wines to be prime examples of that region or varietal while others were slightly different, yet stunning, takes on those particular styles of wine.  After tasting through and discussing all of our wines, we ended with a special toast to Mary on the release of her 2013 Edition of Food & Wine Magazine’s Guide to Wine book!

My Favorite Wine of the Night?

Contino Rioja Reserva 2006 – Tempranillo grape from Rioja, Spain

Like laying in a bed of red roses over a fresh strawberry patch, this Rioja’s dreamlike aromas continue onward with notes of coffee beans and a light creamy hint of red cherry yogurt.  On the palate this wine pulls you even deeper to a dreamlike state with its creamy mentality and savory notes of steak and paprika, flawlessly concluded with a full body, velvety tannin, lively acidity, and black pepper and vanilla spices on the finish.

Wine List

  1. Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre 2011 – Sauvignon Blanc from Loire Valley, FR
  2. Kalmuck Wachau Gruner Veltliner 2011 – Gruner Veltliner grape from Wachau, Austria
  3. Samuel Billaud Les Fourneaux Chablis 1er Cru – Chardonnay grape from Chablis, FR
  4. Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett 2011 – Riesling grape from Mosel Valley, GE
  5. Jean Claude Boisset  Echezeaux Grand Cru 2005 – Pinot Noir grape from Burgundy, FR
  6. Monsanto Il Poggio Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 – Sangiovese grape from Tuscany, IT
  7. Contino Rioja Reserva 2006 – Tempranillo grape from Rioja, Spain
  8. Saint Cosme Cote Rotie 2009 – Syrah blend from Northern Rhone Valley, France
  9. Fontanafredda Barolo Serralunga D’Alba 2006 – Nebbiolo grape from Piedmont, IT

10.  Chateau de Pez Saint-Estephe 2008 – Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Bordeaux, FR

Special congrats to Mary for both her book’s release and another exhilarating class.  And a big thanks to Brian for an excellent roster of wines!

-Julie Albin