For those of us “schooled” in this business of wine, when I refer to “ISG” or “WSET”, you would know what I mean. But for those of us who are challenged by acronyms, I’ll let you in on a little secret. ISG refers to the International Sommelier Guild with access to the term “Sommelier”, which is very service oriented for those of us looking to be in a restaurant or hotel. WSET refers to the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, founded in London, which in my eyes, has a much more sales and marketing focus. I started in ISG, but recently made the switch to WSET given my focus with Joy of Wine.
I have two classes under my belt, and let me tell you…intense focus (for me) is totally the way to go! 32 wines tasted in two days…not bad…NOT bad! And these are no slouchy wines either!
France was a focus, so a lot of French wines were tasted. A real variety on Day 1 though, from dry to sweet, white and red…super impressed with the quality of wines tasted! These to the left were tasted on Day 1! Personally, I’ve never had an Auslese, the 3rd level of the QmP wines of Germany. Outstanding quality with this Riesling with beautiful sweetness and HUGE levels of acidity! And the tasting notes? MUCH more specific than ISG, and it makes sense to me. This 2007 Barbaresco from the Piedmont region of Italy: At $80 a bottle, this Nebbiolo screams of chocolate, leather and smoke and such high tannins and alcohol, this baby is developing and has major potential to age! (See what I mean about no slouchy bottles?)
And speaking of potential to age…all you wine geeks out there will appreciate this: The 2003 Champalou Vouvray, is still beautifully developing! Vouvray (in the Touraine of the Loire Valley region) has the ability to do it all! From light sparkling Cremants to dry still whites and lusciously sweet, it’s a Jane of all trades, featuring the Chenin Blanc. I’m particularly fond of any Vouvray, and was pleased to be able to taste this sweet, honeyed, dried apricot 500 ml bottle for $62. And then there’s the Sauternes…world-famous for its botrytis affected Semillon wines. Again, totally ageable, this 1998 Chateau Filhot at $45 for a half bottle! Beautiful baked pears and such pronounced intensity. That’s some Yum in a bottle for sure!
And this is just a very small sample of what we tried. A Chablis compared to a Beaune, an outstanding White Bordeaux, a 2006 Gevry-Chamertin with lots of strawberries and earth. A 2005 Chateau Meyney St Estephe from left-bank Bordeaux, and a 2005 Chateau Soutard right bank from St. Emilion, each wine featuring the grapes that grow best from that region. It was fun to taste them together and decide which one was the left bank Cabernet Sauvignon based, and which one was the right bank Merlot based. Outstanding wines, and my own abilities sometimes shocked me! All of these wines are tasted blind, so my instincts naturally kick into high gear, but I don’t feel the pressure to “guess that grape”, but rather make good tasting notes, then analyze what it might be based on that.
Germany and Italy, Chili, Argentina, the United States and Canada all coming up…stay tuned…