Jul 312013
 

Each summer I teach a class called “the Greatest Wines of the World” for the viticulture and enology program at Napa Valley College.  It’s a chance for the students to taste the very best wines from some of the top regions of the world, and each summer the wines vary, based on the interests of the students.  Here’s what they tasted in 2013:

Greatest Wines - Burgundy

Burgundy

2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Meursault Blagny 1er Cru “La Piece Sous le Bois”
2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Folatières”
2010 Domaine Blain-Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru “Boudriottes”
2010 Domaine de Montille Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru
2011 Domaine Paul Pernot Bienvenues Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru
2010 Billaud-Simon Chablis “Les Preuses” Grand Cru
1998 Nicolas Potel Clos Vougeot Grand Cru
2010 Domaine Champy Corton Grand Cru “Bressandes”
2010 Domaine Odoul-Coquard Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru “Les Baudes”
2010 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Vaucrains”
2010 Louis Jadot Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Les Beaux Monts”
2010 Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru “Petite Chapelle”

Greatest Wines - Bordeaux

Bordeaux

2009 Chateau La louviere  Pessac Leognan blanc
2007 Chateau Cardonnieux Grand Cru Pessac Leognan rouge
2007 Chateau Poujeaux Moulis en Medoc Grand Vin
2006 Chatau La Lagune Haut-Medoc Grand Cru Classe
2007 Chateau Marquis de Terme Margaux Grand Cru Classe
2007 Chateau Talbot Saint Julien Grand Cru Classe
2007 Chateau Batailley Paulliac Grand Cru Classe
2006 Chateau les Ormes de Pez St. Estephe Cru Bourgeois Exceptionel
2000 Cheatu Phelan Segur St. Estephe Grand Cru Classe
2010 Chateau Figeac St. Emiliion Premier Grand Cru Classe
2010 Chateau Beauregard Pomerol
1998 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Paulliac Premier Grand Cru

Greatest Wines - Italy

Italy

2007 Massolino “Parussi” Barolo
2005 Aldo Conterno “Cicala” Barolo
2008 G.D. Vajra “Bricco Delle Viole” Barolo
2007 Francesco Rinaldi “Cannubio” Barolo
2008 Savignola Paulina Chianti Classico Riserva
2007 Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico Riserva
2008 Massanera Chianti Classico Riserva
2007 Monte Maggio Chianti Classico
2009 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
2007 Caprili Brunello di Montalcino
2006 Tassi “Franci” Brunello di Montalcino Selezione
2007 Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino
2007 Pian dell’Orino Brunello di Montalcino
1997 Masi “Mazzano” Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
2008 Corte Rugolin Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso
1980 Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Superiore
2010 Antinori “Tenuta Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato” Toscana
2008 Castello di Bossi “Corbaia” Toscana
2007 Querciabella “Camartina” Toscana
2010 Ornellaia “Ornellaia” Bolgheri Superiore

Germany

2011 Schloss Lieser Brauneberger Juffer Riesling Kabinett
2011 Von Hovel Oberemmeler Hutte Riesling Kabinett
2011 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett
2011 Selbach Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett
2011 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese
2011 Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Bernkasteler alte Badstube am Doctorberg Riesling Spatlese
2011 Karthauserhof Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Riesling Spatlese
2011 Dr F Weins-Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese Feinherb
2011 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese #10
2011 Kruger-Rumpf Munsterer Rheinberg Riesling Auslese
2011 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese
2003 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Auslese ***

Greatest WInes - Champagne

Champagne

Charles Heidsieck “Brut Reserve” Champagne
Bollinger “Special Cuvee” Brut Champagne
Charles de Cazanove “Tete de Cuvee” Brut Champagne
Ruinart Brut Rose Champagne
2006 Marguet Pere et Fils Grand Cru Brut Champagne
2004 Moet & Chandon “Grand Vintage” Brut Champagne
2000 Pol Roger Brut Blanc de Blanc Champagne
Laurent-Perrier “Grand Siecle” Champagne
Krug “Grande Cuvee” Brut Champagne
1998 Billecart-Salmon “Cuvee Nicolas-Francois Billecart” Brut Champagne
1998 Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame Brut Champagne
2003 Moet & Chandon “Dom Perignon” Brut Champagne
2005 Louis Roederer “Cristal” Brut Champagne

Greatest Wines - Dessert

Dessert Wines

Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (1L)
2004 Villa Pillo Vin Santo (375ml)
2010 Samos Vin Doux Muscat (375ml)
2010 Donnafugata “Ben Ryè” Passito di Pantelleria (375ml)
1996 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume (375ml)
Rare Wine Company Historic Series Boston Bual Madeira
Williams & Humbert “Don Guido” Pedro Ximenez VOS Jerez
Ferreira “Duque de Braganca” 20-year-old Tawny Port
1970 Taylor Vintage Port
2008 Inniskillin “Silver” Riesling Icewine (375ml)
2003 Királyudvar “Lapis” Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos (500ml)
2003 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes

Napa Valley College Viticulture & Winery Technology courses prepare students for entry-level positions and help current industry employees to advance in their careers. Based on a core of viticulture and wine-making classes, the program offers a variety of options for careers in the industry. Students learn to apply viticulture and winemaking theory for decision-making in actual production situations. College facilities include classroom and laboratory buildings, vineyards, and a teaching winery. All program instructors are experienced wine industry professionals.

Jul 192012
 

Wine JudgingThe world of wine can seem quite glamorous – jaunting off to Italy or France to taste wines with some of the world’s most highly respected winemakers, enjoying dinners at top-rated restaurants and just generally basking in the glow of vaunted vineyards and scenic countryside. What’s not to like?

But, it can also be hard work. No, I’m not asking for sympathy (you can dismiss the violins); I know I live a “winederful” life. Yet, it’s not all truffles, roses and cherries.

Well, actually, that’s not entirely true either. In mid-May, I found myself tasting through hundreds of samples of Nebbiolo, a grape variety which is generally characterized by its aromas and flavors of truffles, roses and cherries. But, even with such a well regarded grape in my glass, it wasn’t as thrilling as you might expect.

On Monday morning, I was perched at a white-clothed table, fully set with five Riedel stems, a water glass, a bottle each of still and sparkling water and a bundle of breadsticks nestled in a napkin. This being my first visit to Alba in Piedmont, Italy for Nebbiolo Prima, I wasn’t sure what to expect next.

My fellow journalists were similarly seated while members of the Italian Sommelier Society, in crisp black uniforms, prepared bottles of wine on a central table. Each bottle was equally clothed in black with a bag pulled to the neck to hide the wine’s identity, designated only by a single number written in white.

After being given a small amount of wine with which to prepare (rinse) our glasses, the spectacle began. Tasting the wines poured in flights of five, we proceeded to taste a total of 67 wines. And, this wasn’t any ordinary tasting. These were the newest releases of Nebbiolo hailing from the DOCGs of Roero, Barbaresco and Barolo. In other words, VERY YOUNG, VERY TIGHT, VERY TANNIC, TEETH-STAINING Nebbiolo.

Taste, spit, taste, spit, taste, spit (with some notes scribbled in between each taste and spit session) continued for nearly three hours, punctuated only by the occasional gulp of water, bite of breadstick or enforced pause while you waited for someone to bring you an empty spit bucket. Very glamorous, no? After the 67th wine, we were excused for lunch and other activities, but the same procedure was repeated the next day.

Whereas Monday focused on Roero 2009, Roero Riserva 2008 and Barbaresco 2009, Tuesday concluded the 2009 Barbarescos and introduced the Barbaresco Riserva 2007s and Barolo 2008s. By Wednesday, it was all Barolo 2008, all the time, which continued into Thursday. Thursday also offered up a “pleasant” surprise with an additional 10 wines, bringing that day’s tally to 80 samples. Those last ten were a struggle, but I trudged through knowing that the producers of those ten wines weren’t to blame (and, thus, shouldn’t be penalized) for their placement in the tasting lineup. To say I had palate fatigue would be the understatement of the year – I had palate coma.

About a third of the way through the tasting on Friday, we shifted to Barolo Riserva 2006, concluding with a final count of 350 samples tasted over the five days (excluding those tasted outside of the formal proceedings). At this point, I was strongly considering moving my semi-annual dental appointment up a few weeks to be certain that I hadn’t sustained any permanent damage to my teeth.

For me, the experience and exercise of tasting the wines at this early stage in their development was a challenge. I did find wines I preferred more than others (and a few I outright disliked) and saw some patterns emerge among samples from the various vintages and communes. However, it was not nearly as instructive as the tastings that took place during our visits to the wineries or while dining at local restaurants with the winemakers themselves. Admittedly, these latter activities are more relaxing, but, more importantly, they bring the people and the place to life, which is what truly makes all of the days and days of wine and roses worthwhile.