Shout out to @AmSommelier and @AndrewFBellWine for an incredibly tasty and educational wine event. This was the 2nd of a 12 part seminar series by the ASA (American Sommelier Association). The topic was “Age, ain’t nothing but a number.” Fun, right? I haven’t had too much experience with contrasting and comparing vintages (or getting them paired with delicious dishes by Aureole’s Chef Marcus Ware)…so I needless to say, I was very excited about it.
With the always entertaining Andrew Bell at the helm, here’s a link to a list of what we tasted:
I could go on forever with the tasting notes for each wine, so I won’t, but I do want touch on the main subject of the seminar. Many people thing older is better in wine. As Andrew pointed out with each flight, it really depends on what you, the drinker, enjoy and what you expect from your wine experience. So for instance, if you generally like bold fruited Bordeaux or ripe apple Chardonnay, young is more likely the way you want to go.
Wine’s vintage can mean many things, but it can simply be a reflection of the weather of that year during the last weeks of the growing season before picking. Any weather (heat, rain, wind or lack thereof for example) during that time can seriously affect, good and bad, the flavor of the wine. One of Andrew’s quotes of the night referring to this idea was, “It’s like an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, you don’t really have to pay attention for the first hour and a half, just start watching the last half hour and you can still follow what’s going on.” Well said.
Another topic and worthy quote from Andrew, “Absence of fruit, does not mean absence of flavor.” This is true specially for older vintages. While the fruit can be muted and more subtle (if not starting to turn past prime), the wine can also become more complex. Organic elements like earth, spice and herbal characteristics will start to show off. That’s what they call development.
My favorite experience of the eve was the Riesling tasting. Two Spatlese (which indicates the ripeness of the grapes when they were picked), one a 1993 from the Mosel and one a 2010 from the Rheinhessen. Paired with a foie gras terrine with fennel flakes and kumquat gelee. Wow. The 1993 still had a huge vivacious ripe peachy fruit and staggering acidity to balance. When paired with the terrine, it made another flavor profile completely, melding into a soft, light and creamy entity in what I can only describe as “umami.” Everything together, delicious.
The class is pricey, but worth every penny especially if you hit a wine topic that you are interested in. Take a chance and treat yourself, I say!