Saturday, June 19, 2010

Learnin' Oenophile: Tasting Class at Total Wine

Last Tuesday evening, my colleagues and I attended a wine class at Total Wine & More, Perimeter location. No, these weren't wine-tasting colleagues. The range of wine knowledge was vast, which made it fun.

The classes are given in the large room in the back corner of the store. It doesn't have any windows, and it's a testament to the strength of the storms that night that we continued to hear the thunder. Large wine region maps are stuck to the wall with Velcro, which gave me a decorating idea I don't think Hubby will go for.

I don't talk about my day job on my blogs for anonymity reasons, but let's just say we all went to school for a really long time. Therefore, when our teacher gave us handouts and started with slides, we took notes. Yeah, habit. I'm happy to say that there is not a test at the end.

The classes include crackers, cheese, and water. However, it was the end of the day, and teacher Michelle (also the store wine manager) was very cool about letting us order pizza. Yes, Papa John's delivers to the Total Wine classroom. It just doesn't get better than that, y'all.

The theme of the night, "The Grapes Less Traveled: Delicious Whites and Reds which you may or may not have tasted," took us around the world in ten wines. We started in Argentina. Here are the wines:

2009 La Vuelta Torrontes (Mendoza, Argentina):
Aromatic with a little citrus, but mostly stone fruit and jasmine. Couldn't believe this one's only $8.99!
Rating: Very Good
Came home with me.

2006 Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner (Austria):
Subtle citrus with more green apple and grape skin. Some effervescence. Cheese brought out vanilla notes.
Rating: Good

I'm not sure of the vintage on the next two.

Villa Lanata Gavi La Doria (Piedmont, Italy): 100% Cortese
Nose is slightly sweet. Again, some effervesence. Citrus/lemon/lime with mineral undertones and a tart finish.
Rating: Good to Very Good

Anakena Viognier Single Vineyard (Rapel Valley, Chile):
Interesting nose with hints of rose and ginger. The palate adds minerality and some herbal qualities. This was one of the oddest Viogniers I've ever tasted.
Rating: Okay/Good

2008 René Sparr Gewurtzraminer (Alsace, France):
The comparison for the nose on this one was "bath salts" in that it was very floral. Although it's designated "off-dry," it's just slightly so with nicely balanced acidity.
Rating: Very Good

2009 Finca Los Maza Bonarda (Mendoza, Argentina):
A pretty straightforward red with dark berry nose.
Rating: Good

2008 Vasco Sassetti Il Ginepro (Montalcino, Italy): 100% Sangiovese
Nice nose with a little cedar. Good fruit/acid balance. As luck would have it, the pizza came when we were tasting this wine, and it's a great pairing. At $11.99, this wine may cost less than a pizza.
Rating: Very Good to Excellent

2007 Sobon Estate Zinfandel Fiddletown (Amador County, California):
Apparently Fiddletown is an AVA, and this wine was made from all organic grapes. Smells like a Zin with big fruit and a long, fruity finish to match. It also had some vanilla.
Rating: Very Good

2004* Beaucanon Estate Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley, California): 95% Cab Franc, 5% Cab Sauv
Savory fruit nose and finish with a slightly chewy texture. One of the tasters designated it a "good gift wine."
Rating: Very Good

2008* Martin Family Petite Sirah (Dry Creek, California):
Comes out of the bottle inky purple. Blackberry nose, some spiciness on the palate, and cedar/fruit finish.
Rating: Very Good

Overall, I was quite impressed with the wines selected for the tasting. Prices ranged from a low $8.99 to still reasonable $24.99. The additional information that came with the wine included discussion of regional characteristics, descriptions of the winemakers, and a tiny bit of wine gossip. I'm not going to share that all here because, darnit, my school report-writing days are over. If you want some fun info and good wines, sign up for a class. Now I need to figure out where to get some of those velcro wine region maps.

By the way, have I mentioned how much I love my job and the people I work with?

* Not sure of vintages. I apologize for not paying more attention -- I didn't notice that they were only on the pictures of the labels in the handouts, some of which were too blurry on such a small scale to make them out. The ones I guessed came from internet research.


Lexx said...

Great post, Best Beloved and I are big fans of Cabernet Franc so I was very interested in that particular wine. Lots of interesting little wines tasted, very exciting!

Greg Tuttle said...

Thanks so much for coming out! Glad you enjoyed the wines and tickled that you got to enjoy some pizza with the Sassetti Il Ginepro. We hope to see you again soon.
Greg Tuttle
Wine Operations Manager
Twitter: @Total_Wine

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thanks, Lexx! I love Cab Franc, too, but it's hard to find on its own. Virginia makes some great ones. I would've gotten this one, but we seriously have about 5 cases of wine in our kitchen right now, mostly reds.

Greg, thanks for stopping by! We're enjoying the Torrontes right now. :)