Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nose to the Wine Grind

It's amazing how time flies, eh (no, I am not Canadian).

My last post was back in May. Since then, not so much and then very much has happened...

The biggest updates on the wine front, is that I'm currently enrolled in the WSET program at the International Institute of Wine. I have done nothing to move my business idea forward, so educating myself seemed like a good way of making myself feel like I am at least progressing my mind if not my business plan.

Last Spring I enrolled in the Intermediate (Level 2) Course and passed the exam with distinction. People say I am too humble, so this is me being not humble, or just proud.

I just completed my last class in the 15 week Advanced Course, and am planning on taking the exam in February or April for the Level 3 Award. I am a bit intimidated, borderline scared. The Advanced course is like the Intermediate Course on if every topic got expanded out, accordion-style. I can only imagine how in-depth the Diploma series would get. The picture above are the flash cards I made to try and capture the highlights of each chapter of the reading. It's a lot. I basically transcribed the entire book onto flashcards, perhaps defeating the purpose of the flash cards in the process.

In another effort to make myself feel like I am making progress, without actually, really, yet making progress, I created a study timeline. Actually, I created 2 study timelines...One based on a February test date, the second based on an April test date. I'm going to see how it goes...see how far/fast I can go each week and then make the determination in January about which date I will take the test. As you can see, the February test is ambitious, but we will see. Hey - most people in my class are taking the test this week, giving them only one week to really study, so I can't complain.

I will do my best to keep checking in with this blog and keep you posted on my progress, what I learn, and new updates. I'll try to make things as interesting as possible (for you, the one of you who might be out there reading, and for myself).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday Rose

Just broke open our bottle of Channing Daughters 2013 Rose Table Wine, which we picked up earlier in the summer on a wine tasting excursion in the North Fork. 

It is delicious, plain and simple. Strawberry on the nose and palate. Nice acidity, nice finish…The perfect refreshment after Citi Biking home on a humid, hot summer evening. I am starving at the moment and waiting for my husband to come home so we can enjoy a late night dinner (the usual). I am making spaghetti carbonara - I use Mario Batali's simple recipe. I am not sure what is compelling me to strike up the stove in this heat, but I think it will pair well with the rose. The acidity will help to cut the heaviness and fat. It feels right from a color palette perspective (bacon, rose…you see the connection, right?)

All for now.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cereghino Smith / Little House Syrah 2012

In May, I attended the 8th annual Rip Van Winkle Wine & Cheese Festival in Catskill, my home town. Had a great time - what a blend of high brow and street food culture! - and while not all the wines I tasted blew my mind, that's ok, and there were a lot of really good ones. I went home with a variety of different wines from local makers, and even a whisky from a new distillery in town  - Hillrock. I want to capture my tasting notes, and impressions of these wines, starting with a Petit Syrah from Cerighino Smith, a boutique winery in Bloomington NY, which is about 2 hours north of Manhattan, on the west side of the Hudson.

My feeling is that wine is about a lot more than grapes and terroir. It's also about the people behind it, and their personality and character shine through in the glass. Not only does it influence the style and quality of the wine  but as a drinker, you are buying into the story of the maker as much as the wine itself. And it influences how you experience it. 

You can't help but fall in love with Paula Cereghino a little bit, even when meeting her briefly. She has a great backstory - her grandfather made wine, she started making wine in her apartment in the city, her husband is in the band Television…She just seems like a lot of fun and I love the rock and roll and city influence meets small town boutique winery. Also kind of cool, is that she knows her limits - as she told me, she lets the experts grow the wine, shipping grapes in from California (e.g. Suison Valley), and focuses instead on her area of expertise - the making of it.

I sampled a few of her wines at the festival. Honestly, I had had a lot to taste at that point (without spitting) and can't recall too much from what I tasted. I did love their beautiful labels and fun names (e.g. "eaten by bears"). To me, all of this is important, I am not just putting off the actual tasting notes…

I ultimately selected the Cereghino Smith 2012 Petit Syrah to take home and here is what I captured:
- Appearance: Clear, ruby color, medium intensity
- Nose: Clean, medium minus in terms of intensity 
- Sweetness: Dry
- Acidity: Medium plus 
- Tannin: Medium 
- Body: medium but luscious, deep, inky
- Flavor: Juicy berry vanilla jammy black cherry soft
- Finish: see below

Overall - I really enjoyed this wine, though I did detect a weird after taste / finish - kind of like toothpaste? I am not sure if this is the wine or me, as I just detected it again with a red wine - a cab from Cali - that I had last night. This may be my weird reaction to oaky, vanilla flavor characteristics…I am just hoping it does not mean these wines have artificial flavoring in them. That would be sad to me.

Also very sad - that I did not take a picture of this wine. Enjoy this image from the wine festival instead!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hudson Chatham Baco Noir

Broke open a bottle I had purchased earlier in the summer on an upstate wine tasting tour of some of the wineries on the Shawagunk wine trail. I'll add the link to the adorable wine shop I purchased it at later on.

I was very much looking forward to opening this bottle. It's a beauty of a bottle - handsome, classic label, great shape. It speaks "classic, potent". The "Old Vines" on the label caused me to anticipate California style old-vine Zinfandels - big, meaty, powerful.

So...the reality was a little different. I didn't not like the wine. I won't say I am over the moon - but I like it. It has a strawberry cherry scent and taste going on. But most of all, it had a tang to it...that is the main characteristic that I really took away. I wonder if it is a matter of oxidation? Did I wait too long to drink it? Or is it an intended characteristic? It may be high acid, and that is what I am getting. Overall - pretty good. Not great, to my taste buds, but enjoyable and a nice way to cap off a lazy-ish Sunday evening.

Key Descriptors:

- Medium / full bodied
- Jammy - scent & taste of strawberry & cherry
- Scent of straw  
- Slight sense of oxidation...or, high acid?
- Elemental (as in, I tasted an elemental metal - tin?)

Also - it's color was not brick red, but was duller than what I was used to...a result of oxidation or, again, intended? It caused me to think - I wonder if there is some idea around creating a Pantone-esque color categorization system for wine...the seed of a thought...maybe it is more than color...maybe it is a multi-sensory reference system...have to think about more...