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Thursday, October 6, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Last night we had a great time tasting four champagnes and pairing them with different chocolates. The four champagnes that we tasted in order were A) Gloria Ferrer Brut ($13.99), B) Bernard Bremont Grand Cru Brut ($37.99), C) Pertois Moriset Grand Cru Brut ($39.99) and D) Louis Bouillot Rose ($14.99). Each of these wines was paired with 4 chocolates: homemade chocolate-covered strawberry (thanks to Jeri Cramer and Mary Beth), chocolate and raspberry homemade chocolate (thanks to Sharon Honig-Bear), Trader Joe's Bittersweet Chocolate Almond Bar (about 59% cacao) and a chocolate brownie bite from Costco. Each of the champagnes and chocolate pairings were picked by someone as their favorite. The biggest winners were the chocolate strawberries and Lois Bouillot Rose with more than 20 people (out of 60) picking these as their favorites. See you next time!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Today we discussed maintenance tasks for the vineyard, such as leaf pull and powdery mildew control. In class we tasted Australian and American Shiraz (same as Syrah). The top winner was the Australian 2009 Mollydooker Boxer with the majority of the people highly favorable towards this wine. All wines were very good, but alas our Syrah (which we no longer grow) was not quite in the same league as these wines (we did not oak ours). Other wine favorites were the 2007 Woop Woop and the 2007 Laughing Magpie from Australia. The 2008 Eberle Syrah (Paso Robles, California) and the 2008 Bridgman (Columbia Valley, Washington) from the USA were also quite good. The Cline 2008 Syrah was good but at the bottom of the list, and also at the bottom for price. Sorry if you missed another great tasting. Maybe you can catch the next one.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Tonight in class we talked about some of the problems that can go on in the vineyard, such as disease (powdery mildew), nematodes and phyloxera. We talked about what you can do to control these situations. For the wine tasting, we started with three Rhone blends (2007 JV Fluery Cotes du Rhone, 2009 Le Combier Vasqueyras and 2006 Chateau de Nages) and three Bordeaux blends (2008 Chateau La Valade Cotes de Blaye, 2008 Chateau Monfort Bellevue (Medoc) and 2008 Chateau Les Bernedes (Medoc)). These wines gave us various blends of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Carignane (Rhone style) and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (Bordeaux style). There was a mixture of opinion on which wines were best. For every wine that someone had a favorite, another person chose it as their least favorite.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Last night we assessed the frost damage that occurred on 5/15/2011. Temperatures plummeted around 3 am to a low of 28.4 °F (based on data from DRI weather station at Valley Road Experiment Station) and hovered there for about 2 hours. The damage is still being assessed but was sporadic with some shoots being completely damaged and other shoots not at all on the same vine. Overall the damage so far looks to be about 20% of the shoots. On vines that had not yet been pruned, these shoots were emerging from portions that would be pruned off anyway. We dodged a bullet, just barely. Note that hybrids suffered just as much damage as the viniferas. For the tasting, we tasted three different rhone varietals: Grenache, Syrah, and Petite Sirah. Then three different blends from these wines. Just about everyone agreed that the wine tasting was fantastic and that the blends were significantly better than the individual wines by themselves.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Tonight we discussed wine blending and described the different Bordeaux blends. In the tasting, we tasted three Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot separately, then as blends. Everyone enjoyed the wines and saw the variation and power of blending. This starts a series on blended wines. Next we taste Rhone style red blends. Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Tonight in class we went out to the vineyard to see the frost damage from last weekend. Fortunately, few buds that were pushing were leafed out and therefore they survived the frost. The few leaves exposed were all killed. We tasted 6 different white wines tonight: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Semillon, and Riesling. The Gewurztraminer was the hit of the night, it had classic litchi aromas, good balance and a nice finish. The second favorite was the Pinot Gris. This wine was very well balanced with some honeysuckle notes, very good body and a velvety texture. Both of these wines were excellent. None of the wines had been oaked or had any secondary fermentations. This was the first time that we put all of the wines in a direct competition in one tasting. The low scoring wine (although not a bad wine) was the Chardonnay. The rest of the wines were nice middle of the road wines.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Tonight we discussed the principles of pruning and optimizing crop yield and quality. After that we did a unique tasting of 7 bottles of Chardonnay with different oak varieties and toast levels (American, Hungarian and French) (Medium and Medium plus). Everyone agreed that the non-oaked wine was had nice fruit aroma and slight acidity. When the wines were oaked, the oak aromas and slight acidity disappeared. The wines had a long-finish and each of the oaks had a different character. The French oaks could be characterized with a certain sweetness, the American oak with some extra roughness and the Hungarian oak somewhere in between. Except for the American oak, the medium plus toast was slightly softer and finer than the medium toast.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Tonight we demonstrated how to prune the vines. We went out into the vineyard and observed bud break and bud swell. After that we did a tasting of 3 red wines from UNR. They were all tasted blind. There were three duplicates. I am glad to say that almost everybody was able to detect and match the duplicate wine. We tasted the 2009 Pinot Meunier, Lemberger and Cabernet Franc. All wines were good and the Pinot Meunier was the favorite. It was outstanding in the 2009 vintage.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Last night we started our class on a description of pruning procedures. This will probably be a series of 3 or more lectures before we completely cover pruning. Next week, we will go out to the vineyard for a demonstration of pruning. Our aroma tasting continued with some improvements in testing. We compared some locally grown hybrid wines with our UNR vineyard vinifera wines. Bill Coplin was kind enough to bring two of his own hybrid wines, 2009 Frontenac and 2009 St. Croix and a Frontenac from Tahoe Ridge. We tasted the 2009 Well-Watered and Drought-Stressed Lembergers (both oaked) and a 2009 Merlot (not oaked). The vinifera grapes were more popular than the hybrids. Both the Merlot and the Drought-Stressed Lemberger were considered the favorites.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Tonight we went out to vineyard and checked on the plants and how they survived the winter. We also checked some vines that had some of their canes buried to see how they compared. There was noticeable dieback with pale green phloem tissue in the canes above ground. The canes below ground were healthy with no dieback and plenty of dark green phloem. It appears the above ground vines were suffering from the cold and wind this Spring. Overall, it looks like most of the vines in the South vineyard are doing fairly well. We should know better over the next month as bud break begins to occur. In the wine tasting class we discovered that our aroma analyses are showing some signs of improvement after 5 weeks of practice. We compared our 2009 Drought Stressed White wines from UNR. Most everybody was pleased with these wines. Some people were very pleased! The 2009 drought-stressed Gewurztraminer was the winner for the night. Hope to see you next week.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Last night we continued with our class with a lecture on grapevine anatomy, grapevine development and varietal selection. We also started a video edition that will hopefully be part of an on-line course in the near future. Thank you Robert Moore for putting this together! We tasted drought-stressed red wines from UNR. There was a strong consensus for two wines especially, the 2009 Lemberger and the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, lots of dark color and firm tannins, with good fruit and complex aromas! The week before, we tasted our UNR whites and Gewurztraminer was a clear winner. We continued with the aroma training and testing. We had five people get all six aromas correct last night (including moi!). So there are definitely signs of improvement. Hurray!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Last night, we started class with an introduction to what areas are good for growing grapes and how to select a vineyard site. We continued our program on aroma training. There was noticeable improvement in our second week. We had three people get all six aromas correctly this week, my own score improved from 2 out of 6 to 4 out of 6! So the results are very encouraging after just two weeks. Lets see if the trend continues! We tasted all of the 6 red varieties made in 2009. They were all outstanding and there were clearly differences of opinions as to which wine was the favorite. My personal favorite this time was the Merlot. However, everyone agreed that there were no bad wines and that this was by far the best wine tasting ever! We experimented with a classic Bordeaux blend, mixing Merlot with Cabernet Franc (50/50). Everyone agreed that this improved flavors and aromas beyond what each wine offered individually. If you missed this tasting, I am sorry, because you missed a very good one!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Last night at class we provided an overview of the UNR wine and grape research program. We also discussed some specifics about unique characteristics of Gewurztraminer grapes. We also started an aroma training program where we smelled Gewurztraminer wines with added aromas including lemon, lime, apple, pear, lychee, and honey. Then we were tested on what aromas we smelled in unlabeled glasses. As it turns out we all had room for improvement (especially me!), with the average person getting 3 out of the 6 aromas correctly. The goal of this program is to repeat this each week until we can get all of us smelling correctly! Hopefully we at least see some improvement. After that we tasted some Gewurztraminers from 2005 to 2009. The majority of the people preferred the 2005. It appears that our Gewurztraminers are ageing well.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Last night, we discussed Flavor and Aromas in wine, especially for Chardonnay. We then tasted 9 wines with various characteristics including with and without oak, various percentages of malo-lactic fermentations and residual sugar. 7 of the wines were commercial wines, 2 of the wines were from UNR. The following was the ranking of the 20 plus persons evaluating the wine last night: 1) 2009 J.Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay, 2) 2009 Chateau St. Michelle Columbia Valley, 3) 2009 Toad Hollow Chardonnay Unoaked, 4) 2007 Louis Jadot Macon Villages Chardonnay, 5) 2009 UNR Valley Road Oaked Chardonnay, 6) 2009 Kendall Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay, 7) 2009 UNR Valley Road Unoaked Chardonnay, 8) 2009 Montes Chardonnay Classic Series, 9) 2002 Domain Jomain Chardonnay. It was a fun night. Hope to see you there next time for an interesting series on "How does your brain taste and smell?" by Dr. Grant Mastick!