Into the Bottle – Intro to Wine, February 2, 2017

On Thursday, February 2nd we held an Introduction to Wine class here at Kensington Wine Market.

Along with delving into some bottles we went over quite a few of the things that need to be addressed in order to truly appreciate wine.  We discussed how to taste a wine and what to look for in a wine. Breaking it down into 4 basic categories; look, smell, taste, and overall opinion.  The class was focused on a few of the classic grapes. All the wines we tried were single varietals and from places where they are really thriving in the world.  It was quite fun to be able to try a lot of different and varied tastes from around the world, as well as learn a thing or two.

This class was a mouthful, as we had to taste our way through 8 different wines, 4 white and 4 red.  Nothing pairs so well with education as wine and I felt the selection served as a great introduction to some of the big grapes of the wine world. I was able to slip in a few of my favourites as well.  I will go through them in the same order that we tried them in the class, as it seemed to be quite a lovely way to enjoy the different expressions of each grape.

Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $44.99
This is an amazing Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, where they are doing fantastic things with this grape.  This wine is produced by Kevin Judd; one of the original wine makers for Cloudy Bay wines.  He was one of the people who really helped to put New Zealand wine and the citrus and fruit driven new world style of Sauvignon Blanc on the map.  This is a lovely wine that really expresses the “terroir” of the region.  Greywacke wines were named for the small grey stones that you find all over the vineyards and New Zealand.  This bottling is dubbed ‘Wild Sauvignon’ because he uses the wild yeasts that are in the air and on the grapes to ferment the wine.  It is an extremely expressive wine and amazingly delicious.  A very light straw colour, while on the nose you get notes of grass, lemon, and passion fruit.  As one co-worker put it, like grass next to a pond.  On the palate it is a lovely textural wine with medium acidity, a touch of smoky flint, and a lovely lemon custard taste as well.  Once you have a drink it feels like you can still taste the crust along with a lovely creamy, lemon that leaves your mouth coated with the taste.  The grapes seem to have been left to express where they are from and that is exactly what they did.  Amazing wine!

Walter Hansel North Slope Chardonnay 2013, $55.99
Chardonnay is a white wine grape that has been grown the world over. One of the top places making it is California.  This wine is exactly what you would expect to see from there.  This is a big, rich, luscious California Chardonnay.  It is from a relatively new producer who originally started to make wine with his father on their land after planting it with grapes.  In the early years they had some trouble getting a feel for their vineyards and the terrior but after getting some advice and a helping hand from some friends, they began and continue to produce some fantastic wines.  This Chardonnay is a light golden colour.  On the nose it is full of buttered popcorn, with a bit of peach, apricot, wax, violet and just a hint of funky barnyard.  The pallet is big and buttery, creamy texture, with a touch of nuttiness to it as well.  If you like your big opulent Chardonnays and delight in buttered popcorn, this is definitely the wine you are looking for.  Perfect for movie night.

Domaine des Aubuisieres Girardieres 2015, $25.99
Chenin Blanc might be a wine you have never heard of but it is definitely a wine that you need to try, and the sooner the better!  This a lovely wine from Vouvray in the Loire region of France.  This wine is made to be sweeter and it definitely is with 30g/l.  You can also find Chenin Blanc in other regions of the world.  Another region making fantastic Chenin Blanc is South Africa – where it is oftentimes goes by the name ‘Steen’.  This wine was quite light yellow colour, but on the nose loaded with honey, a touch of peach and very floral.  It was so aromatic and pleasing that I could literally sit and just smell the wine.  That is until my mouth starts watering and begging for a little sip.  Not being one to disappoint, on the palate is once again lots of honey and a lovely creamy texture. Rich, lush, with some fresh fruit and a bit of gummy bear flavour.  I wasn’t sure what I enjoyed the most, smelling it or tasting it.  I indulged in both and would definitely recommend that you do as well.

JJ Prum Riesling Spatlese Himmelreich 2012, $44.99
I think I might have been pushing peoples limits as I gave them 2 sweet wines in a row but I can’t help it… I have a sweet tooth.  This is a gorgeous Riesling from Germany.  JJ Prum are relatively young producers for Germany; they only started selling wines in the early 1900′s.  They do an amazing job though and a lot of their sweeter style wines typically are some of the most expensive wines that you can find anywhere.  This is one of their entry-level wines and it is delightfully balanced and wonderful.  For anyone new to Riesling one of the smells that can be apparent and quite surprising is diesel or rubber.  One of the people who came to the class said that he thought he was in a Canadian Tire store upon smelling it.  It can be a really weird experience but not negative I feel.  On the nose this wine does express quite a bit of rubber and diesel; maybe reminiscent of a mechanic shop. Lilacs, perfume, roses, wet slate and lychee also come to the fore.  The palate is deliciously balanced between the acidity and the sweetness, with some honey flavours, lemon, nectarine and green apples.  This would pair amazingly with some Indian or spicy Asian food.  A delicious treat!

Alain Geoffroy Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2014, $28.99
Pinot Noir is considered one of the more difficult grapes to grow, but also one of the most delicious and rewarding!  If you are able to do it right and the sun, moon, and stars align so that you get that great bottle of Pinot, it is absolute bliss.  It might not be for everyone, but if you love it, you absolutely love it!  This Pinot from Alain Geoffroy is quite elegant and delicious. It is a light, vibrant, pink, red hue and smells of clove and violet with some juicy tart red berries.  On the palate it has a lovely racey acidity that makes the mouth water.  It also tastes of tart cherry, rhubarb, cherry gummies and herbs.  It was a gorgeous wine made in one of the best places in the world to get a great Pinot; Burgundy, France.  For the price this is a definite winner for a classic style Pinot Noir with nice acidity and a good price point.

Manzone Barolo Gramolere 2009, $73.99
If you are not familiar with Barolo that’s okay – I am here to help.  Barolo is a region in North-western Italy.  The wines are made from the grape Nebbiolo.  It is a super cool grape, as the wine colour looks light and very vibrant.  It was almost comparable in colour to the Pinot Noir that we tried.  The big difference is when you try it.  It almost seems like it grabs a hold of your teeth and mouth and won’t let go.  There can be huge tannins and great acidity on these wines.  Originally, these wines were meant to be aged for very long periods of time, 20-30 years, before you were supposed to enjoy them.  With new production methods and different styles of wine making they are changing things and making them more approachable, sooner.  This wine was from 2009 and still holding up quite well.  Lots of fresh fruit on the nose and palate, yet still quite a vibrant colour.  This Barolo was still a very large and impressive wine that was begging to have a steak or lamb go with it, really any sort of traditional Italian meat plate would be amazing!  The producers specialize in Barolo as the majority of what they make is specifically Barolo, whereas lots of other producers only dabble in Barolo.  This is a stellar wine and should still be able to age for a while longer.  Definitely worth it!

Best’s Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2013, $29.99
When you think of Shiraz, where do you think of?  Generally Australia and this is one awesome example of an Australian Shiraz!  Even though Shiraz is the same as Syrah and you can find it in all parts of the world, Australia is still one of the best-known sources.  We took a look at this wonderful wine from an older producer in Australia.  Best’s originally started in 1866 and is home to some of the oldest vineyards in Australia.  This Shiraz is not exactly what you might expect from a typical Aussie Shiraz.  I am not sure if you have ever had an Aussie Shiraz and it feels like it smacked you in the face and left your teeth all black and blue and purple all over.  This isn’t that Shiraz though. This is a Shiraz of elegance, decadence, grace, and structure.  You will still have purple teeth at the end but you won’t feel like you have gone through a few rounds with a heavyweight pugilist – instead the experience is akin to sharing a delightful dance with the prettiest girl at the ball.  The colour is a deep, rich purple. On the nose it has lots of liquorice, blackberry, plum, mint, and dark chocolate.  The palate is rich with smooth, velvety, tannins, more dark chocolate, plum, blackberry, and medium acidity.  The price is hard to beat on this little gem and is definitely worth taking to the ball, or home. Whatever you prefer.

Black Stallion Napa Cabernet 2013, $39.49
This was the last wine of the night and it also just so happened to be the crowd favourite.  This is a relatively new winery but it is owned by the Indelicato Family, one of the largest family owned wine producers in the US.  They have dedicated this winery to producing high-end wines with the ultimate goal of producing 100 point wines.  They are able to source fruit from lots of different excellent lots and they can put them together here to make some amazing wine.  Cabernet is well known in Napa and I think this is no exception.  It is a gorgeous dark purple.  On the nose there is oak, toffee, tar, mocha, black pepper, cassis, pencil lead, and blackberry.  On the palate is delightful with spice, black currant, big tannins and rich dark chocolate that lingers on the palate in deliciousness.

These are all definitely wines that I could get used to drinking more of and hopefully will soon.  It was awesome to be able to try so many different grape varieties and styles from some of the best regions around the world!  Everyone who came tonight was amazing as well and I really hope they had as much fun as I did! Also – a big think thank you to our neighbor’s Peasant Cheese for supplying some cheese and small bites to go along with the wine. As always they knocked it out of the park.

I can’t wait for part 2 of our Into The Bottle tasting… Blends, coming March 14.  Until next time!

- Dave

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