Monday, June 12, 2006


Earlier I mentioned that my wife and I had booked in, with some friends, to an introductory wine course with Tony Harper from the Wine Emporium to be run over two consecutive Tuesday nights. Yes it is hard to believe - I may actually learn something about wine!

Last Tuesday night the better-half and I ambled off to the Wine Emporium’s Wine Room in Constance St, Fortitude Valley. This is a small retail outlet, office and small function room whist their main store is just down the road at the Emporium development.

This first evening looked solely at White Wines. Therefore, I feel obliged to apologise to The Wine Commonsewer (TWC) who said, in a comment to one of my earlier posts, “lips that touch white wine will never touch mine”. All I can really say is “Phew! I dodged a bullet there!”. Whilst I prefer reds (in fact I haven’t bought any white wine in over two years, apart from the odd bottle of champers ‘sic’) it was a very interesting evening and there were a couple of wines that weren’t bad and I could quite happily drink again.

Tony (I told you, you should have smiled for the camera – Oh and sorry about the red-eye) works with the Wine Emporium and is quite a well known wine judge around these parts. He provided us some basic instruction on the Appearance of a wine; Aroma/Bouquet and breaking it down into three categories of: the grape, the winemaking artifact, and age; and Taste, that it should follow the aroma of the wine, the importance of freshness regardless of age, and the meaning of intensity, length, balance, and complexity.

While we the wines he took time to point out all these various quality parameters as well as giving information on the basic making of wine, the structure and characteristics of wine. Tony also discussed the basic differences between barrel fermentation and tank fermentation, as well as talking about secondary or malolactic fermentation. He also covered, oak aging, lees aging and no aging (Hi to all you cheap chardonay drinkers!!). I feel like I learnt quite a deal. The information really helped me put together a few things that I was tasting, smelling and seeing that I couldn’t explain. For example, I always had thought that the ‘buttery’ after-taste you got in some wines had something to do with the age and type of the oak used. How I came to this assumption I cannot recall. However, I learned that this “buttery” effect was a result of a compound called diacetyl (I think this is how you spell it) being produced during the malolactic fermentation.

The first two wines we tasted were a Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Marlborough, New Zealand) and an Ariolas “Costamolino” Vermentino 2004 (Sardinia, Italy). Both wines apparently retail for around $25 in Australia. The first difference you notice is the colour of the wines. The Sauvignon Blanc was almost devoid of colour whilst the Vermentino was almost an amber colour. You could be forgiven for thinking the Vermentino was a lot older than a 2004. This alone tells us a little of the difference in the wine making approaches. Obviously the Vermentino has been allowed greater contact with the lees at some stage through out the process. The aroma was equally different, even after allowing for varietal differences. The Sauvignon Blanc had a fresh, fruity and citrus aroma whilst the Italian wine had a very rustic aroma. It smelled of mushrooms(?) and an earthiness that is not unlike many of the Bordeaux reds. Both wines were intense in flavour and had good length. The New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc lasted for at least 20 seconds and the Vermentino almost that long. I must say that of the two I preferred the Vermentino.

In an upcoming post I will look at the next three wines we tasted. Until then, drink well and live well!


Anonymous Sandy Kemsley said...

If you want to do a bit more wine training on your own, there's a couple of good wine education podcasts, such as Wine for Newbies and Winecast.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Mal said...

Sandy, thanks for the comment. I have seen Winecast before bbut I was unaware of Wine for Newbies. There looks like some really good stuff on there and I will have a good time going through it.

Thanks again


8:22 AM  

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