As long as I’m going to be very particular about what kind of wine I like and don’t like, which I seem to be, it only makes sense to try and get a little educated about it.
We are lucky, in Yosemite, to host fine dining events like Vintners’ Holidays once a year, and the wine tastings associated with that event are incredibly educational, as well as delicious. Plus, some of the wines served are often expensive and quite rare. However, for a novice wine appreciator (connoisseur seems a little high-brow for where I’m at in my wine education), the conversation surrounding those wines is often at a much higher level than I’m prepared to engage in. Fascinating, but over my head.
Introduce the budding wine club that started just last month. Led by people who are studying for their Master Sommelier exams, it makes a great blend of people with a great deal of expertise with those of us who are barely able (or unable) to tell a Cabernet from a Merlot without reading the bottle. I went to my first session tonight, and we tasted Syrahs from around the world.
I really enjoyed our first exercise – which was to try to identify various different fragrances that are associated with this varietal. Except for mixing up violets and Black currants (but correctly identifying truffles, even though I’ve never smelled a truffle), I was surprised at how well I did since I’m usually the last one to be able to pull out different flavors in food.
Then we started in with 8 different wines.
All of the wines were very good, and ranged in price from around $20 to just over $60/bottle. My favorite was the Les Launes 2006 Crozes-Hermitage, which is a relatively inexpensive French wine, and Tom’s was a 2006 Syrah from K Vintners in Walla Walla, WA. We were told that ‘old-world’ wines tend to be lighter and more complex, while the ‘new world’ wines tend toward a bigger and bolder taste. That certainly seemed to be the case in our small sampling, and the Australian wines, which tend to be especially bold, were too big for me in this setting, (d’Arenberg – mcLaren Vale “The Dead Arm” Shiraz 2005, and the 2005 Yalumba Barossa Shiraz-Voignier blend from Yalumba Valley) but I could see them complimenting a flavorful red-meat dish nicely.
One wine to keep an eye out for that we didn’t have a chance to taste is the YellowTail Shiraz Reserve. This very reasonably priced wine is supposed to be one of the best?