It was a beautiful sight to behold. Bubbles, blithely bouncing bubbles bursting to the top of our glasses.
Laura Williamson, MS, CWE introduced us to each glass. The smells, the tastes, the processes that brought them into this world. When to drink them: "You don't want a five year old prosecco". What the grapes bring into the flavor process: "Pinot Noir gives the earthy dimension". What is it with aging anyway?: "Acidity is the key component for ageability".
For me, Laura's gem statement of the day was "We talk dry, but we want sweet". With regard to wine sold in the United States, that is so true. No wonder our best seller is Riuniti Lambrusco. There is a huge market for sweet. But we love to discuss other nuances. When I read people writing about wine, it is like our national sweet tooth is a dirty secret. Well, I'll say it, I LIKE sweet wine. I drink it, I write about it, and I won't hide it. After all, I was raised on Boone's Farm Tickled Pink. (but I still love my Tempranillo!)
One of the highlights of this session (besides the wine and the teacher) was that in the volunteer section was Alexandra from Devereaux's Restaurant. She had some GREAT pairing ideas and would come up and share them with us. She also had a cooking tip to share. "When cooking with dark meat, use black pepper. When cooking with light meat, use white pepper". Hmm, you wouldn't think sparkling wine with anything peppery normally now would you? But I bet that something with a bold flavor, like the German Raumland Pinot Blanc Brut Prestige or even The Gloria Ferrer would pair really well with a pork loin stuffed with cornbread, dried apricots, cranberries and raisins. (Great, now I am hungry.)
Laura said something that made my ears stand up: "There's great sparkling wine coming out of England". Wwhaaat? I asked myself. There are vineyards in England? How did I miss that? I must go now and find out where these English vineyards are. And so, this will be my 2012 wine project. (after I pass my CSW)
Here is a run down of what we tasted that morning:
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, NV DO, Cava $8.99
A nice dry Spanish bubbly.
Mionetto IL Prosecco DOC di Treviso $13.00
I smiled. This was the last wine I tasted before my kidney transplant in `08. It was a lovely happy flowery memory. (the wine was flowery too!)
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Sparkling NV $20.00
Hello old friend! I love this California sparkling wine. It is one of my go to bubblies. I savored this glass.
Moët & Chandon "Imperial" NV $34.99
Yes, here we are in France with the big boys. Our first "Champagne" of the day. I've never been a label person. (unless I am labeling someone... but I digress) It was nice to taste one of the classics. This is the wine that replaced White Star.
Moët & Chandon "Imperial" Rosè NV $50.00
Pretty, strawberries. I liked it. Soft, creamy and elegant. Ok, this is what the money is for. What a great special occasion wine.
Raumland Pinot Blanc Brut Prestige `02 $65.00
My first vintage sparkling of the day, and it was from a small German producer that leaves the wine on the lees for 5-7 years. Now this is what a wine seminar is all about. There were only 500 cases of this wine produced. It is exclusive. Laura had it because she works for the distributor. It was the richest sparkling that I tasted for the day, and it had a long finish. Which is remarkable (to me) for a sparkling wine.
Umberto Fiori Moscato d'Asti DOCG $10.99
And we end our tasting in one of my favorite corners of the world Piemonte, Italy. This super sweet dessert sparkling is like drinking a luscious over ripe pear from a bottle. Crisply chilled, it is a magic elixir, and it is only 6% ETOH. All sweet, no hangover. (maybe a diabetic coma, but hey, what a way to go!)
Here's a slideshow from all three of the wine seminars of the day: