The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.
no avatar
User

JC (NC)

Rank

Lifelong Learner

Posts

6663

Joined

Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:23 pm

Location

Fayetteville, NC

WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by JC (NC) » Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:32 pm

I attended this wine tasting at the French Embassy Saturday night. We tasted four French white grape varieties and four French red grape varieties and the same number of whites and reds (from same varieties) from other parts of the world in flights of four wines (16 total tastings). We knew what pair of wines were being tasted (such as a Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc but not which wine was A and which was B or which was C and which was D.
(They had a Bordeaux v. Napa tasting in the afternoon but I couldn't get to that one).
French Wine Society and and American Wine (Association) put on the event. Rules were that wines had to be available from local DC shops and whites were to be no more than $25 and reds no more than $35 (I think one red wine went over by $1.00 at retail price.)

I see how K Story wasn't always sure which wine came out the winner when she attended. I had trouble tracking which wine was announced as French or other in one case and which one was favored by the crowd in some instances (it was by show of hands).


First up:
REVERDY SAUVIGNON BLANC, SANCERRE, FRANCE 2006
CLOUDY BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC, MARLBOROUGH, NEW ZEALAND 2006

I guessed the nationality correctly on this one and prefered the Cloudy Bay which had grapefruit and tropical fruit notes. The Reverdy was quite mineral on the nose and rather austere. I thought it might have benefited from another year of age but one of the presenters made a point about prefering Sauvignon Blanc in its youth. (I know some of the Cotat Sauvignon Blanc improves with a few years in bottle.) Cloudy Bay and Reverdy were a pretty close split in the voting for favorite on this round. 2006 is a good vintage for Cloudy Bay. I liked it better than some other vintages I have tried.

Second pairing in the first flight:
BOURILLON CHENIN BLANC, VOUVRAY, FRANCE 2005
MULDERBOSCH CHENIN BLANC, STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA 2006
(I really wished I had paid more attention to Hoke's description of the Mulderbosch--it would have helped me decide which wine was the South African) Oops!--Just found his note and it was on a rosé so wouldn't have helped after all.
I thought wine C had a deep note, partly from oak, and more distinctive nose than wine D and also slight vanillin flavoring. I found wine D pleasant but less distinctive. Unfortunately, I'm still confused about which was which. I thought wine C was the Vouvray but it may have been the reverse order. The majority favored the French wine in this round.

Third round:
CORDIER CHARDONNAY, ST. VERAN, FRANCE, 2004
SAINTSBURY CHARDONNAY, CARNEROS, CA 2005

I was fooled here by a St. Veran that was made more in the winemaking style of a Meursault and tasted more like a Mersault. The American wine presenter said it "out-Cal charded the Cal chards." I picked the St. Veran as the California wine but prefered it to the Saintsbury. It had seen some oak and had a richer, oak-influenced nose with vanilla and a faint hint of toffee or caramel. Definitely the oakier wine on the palate but balanced, with a long finish on the verge of being buttery. The Saintsbury Chardonnay had a pleasant apple scent but not the richness imparted by the oak. The presenter of the French wines talked about roasted hazelnut and toasted almond being signatures of Chardonnay from France but I would have to stretch it to find any nuts in the St. Veran. I think the French wine was favored by the majority on this round.

Round 4:
SCHOFFIT "HARTH" RIESLING, ALSACE, FRANCE 2004
RADFORDALE RIESLING, EDEN VALLEY, AUSTRALIA 2004

I prefered the Alsace wine which was the clear favorite of the crowd (out of maybe 100-120 people only about five voted for the Australian Riesling)but I mistakenly thought it was from Australia. Wine C, the Australian Riesling, had an unpleasant amount of kerosene or petrol on the nose--maybe in an unfortunate state of development. I also thought there was some cement on the nose. Wine D, the wine from Alsace, was much fruitier and while said to be bone dry, presented as an off-dry wine.

Round 5 started the red wine flights:
DURUELL-JANTHIEL "EN GUESNES" PINOT NOIR, RULLY, FRANCE 2005
WILD EARTH PINOT NOIR, CENTRAL OTAGO, NEW ZEALAND 2005
I got the nationality correct on this round where the women on either side of me had it the reverse way. I prefered the wine from Rully as did a slight slight majority of the crowd. It had almost a Grenache nose of berry fruits and was more extracted than the New Zealand wine. (The French wine presenter encouraged us to count the number of swallows we took with the first sip of the wine. Three swallows indicates a wine with some extraction whereas one swallow indicates less extraction and quality. I took 2-3 swallows with the Rully and 1-1.5 with the Otago.) The New Zealand wine was darker and more tannic which should indicate more extraction shouldn't it, so go figure. It had a fresh fruitiness and I liked both wines but liked the Rully better. In a close vote the crowd prefered the Rully over the New Zealand Pinot Noir.
Round 6:
CHATEAU ROLAND LA GARDE GRAND VIN MERLOT, FRANCE, 2000
TREFETHAN OAK KNOLL MERLOT, NAPA VALLEY, CA 2002
I didn't vote for a favorite in this round because I prefered the nose of wine C (the Trefethan) and the flavors of wine D (the Chateau Roland la Garde. The Trefethan smelled very ripe--not so much plum as berries. It was viscous on the sides of the glass and measured 2-3 swallows with a puckery finish. Wine D, the French Merlot, had a bubblegum nose that I didn't like but was more elegant on the palate than the nose indicated. I measured 1-2 swallows here and found it to have a nice finish. Another close vote from the crowd on this round--could be termed a tie.

Round 7:
DOMAINE DU TUNNEL SYRAH, ST. JOSEPH, FRANCE 2005
TWO HANDS "ANGEL'S SHARE" SHIRAZ, MCLAREN VALE, AUSTRALIA (winery in Barossa but grapes from McLaren Vale)

The Australian Shiraz was the crowd favorite here. I liked it too as more approachable and drinking well now but thought wine A, the St. Joseph, had better aging potential. Both were quite dark in color. I actually thought the Australian wine had a more typical Syrah nose (maybe from old vines?) Wine A was slightly tannic which I found offputting. I tried sips of both wines with a dry chocolate brownie and thought the Australian was a slightly better match.

Final round, round 8:
GOULEE CABERNET SAUVIGNON, MEDOC, FRANCE 2003
BUEHLER CABERNET SAUVIGNON, NAPA VALLEY, CA 2005
Both were quite dark in color. I prefered wine C in a close contest (this turned out to be the Buehler). I thought wine D (the Medoc) had sort of a "lifted" nose. It did take two swallows for the first sip.

Overall, it was France 3, rest of world 2, and 3 virtual ties. France won on the Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling; rest of world won on the Syrah/Shiraz, and either the Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and it was close on the Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and one of the final two rounds, either the Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Fun event!
User avatar
User

Hoke

Rank

Achieving Wine Immortality

Posts

11459

Joined

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am

Location

Portland, OR

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by Hoke » Mon Jul 02, 2007 7:48 pm

Nice report, JC.

Four comments:

Rembering what I said about Mulderbosch wouldn't have helped, because what I commented on was the Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose, and what you tasted was the Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc. :)

I question why the Syrah was put between the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon. Just seems curious to put a Southern Rhone variety between two basically Bordeaux varities.

Sounds like a fun way to do things---although the "French wine versus the rest of the world" gives an edge to France just in the way it was set up, and I don't think that really mirrors the reality of the wine world right now. In any event, if the authorities wanted to challenge the rest of the world with this tasting, I'd say they did little better than pull of a tie, no? Hardly a victory lap in order.

Could you run that bit by me again about the number of swallows the French person was nattering about? I didn't quite understand that. Maybe it was lost in translation or something, but I don't understand why taking more swallows of a wine would make it more extracted, and certainly don't understand what it would tell you about the quality. Okay, okay, if a wine is "better quality" you'll drink more of it, or vice versa---I understand that. But saying that in a controlled tasting the counting the number of sips you take of two wines means one is more extracted or higher quality than the other???? Huh? And sorry, but the whole schtick of sitting there and methodically counting the number of sips and swallows would certainly detract me from assessing the wines in question.
no avatar
User

JC (NC)

Rank

Lifelong Learner

Posts

6663

Joined

Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:23 pm

Location

Fayetteville, NC

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by JC (NC) » Mon Jul 02, 2007 8:11 pm

Actually, I believe Lisa, who presented the French wines, is American. She said that when you take a sip of tap water you usually gulp it down in one swallow but with mineral water you may take two or three swallows. Similarly, with wine, if the first sip goes in and disappears down the throat in one gulp, it doesn't have much extract or body to it. If it has some complexity or earthiness, etc. it will take generally 2-3 swallows and can be used as an indicator of quality (she says they do this all the time in the industry--but you would know--is she clearly in left field on this). She asked us to count swallows on the first sip of each wine, not subsequent sips.

After first submitting this I looked for your note on the Mulderbosch and saw that it was a rosé so I edited my comment.

I agree that this was anything but a clear victory for France but it is more a fun rivalry anyway than a serious competition. Lisa was pleased by how well the Rully Pinot Noir did in the vote because the $35 limit for red wines restricted what she could offer in that category. Another point she made is that we tend to vote for what we are used to. Someone in the food industry tested American preferences for fresh, frozen or canned peas. No one in the test group prefered the fresh peas. When questioned, it turned out that no one in that group had ever tasted fresh peas before (I have had them in France but rarely in the U.S. My father, the son of a farmer, has had plenty of fresh peas which he had to shell.) Similarly, someone who expects a Chardonnay to taste oaky and who has come to like that style, will probably be put off by a Chablis or an unoaked Chardonnay from Australia or something. Someone who prefers jammy or over-the-top Shiraz may not go for a more subtle Syrah. So since the crowd were mainly Americans, the French wines did well to achieve a tie. The sophistication of the crowd may have helped the French wines do as well as they did. I tend to talk "Old World" but enjoy many "New World" wines so it was instructive for me too. As to why the Syrah round came between the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon, it may have been a belief that the Cabernet Sauvignon was the fullest bodied of the wines.
User avatar
User

Hoke

Rank

Achieving Wine Immortality

Posts

11459

Joined

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am

Location

Portland, OR

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by Hoke » Mon Jul 02, 2007 8:43 pm

JC,

Thanks for the response.

Since Lisa is both a colleague and a friend, as well as a very good wine educator, I won't disagree with her.

I think what she was doing was trying to get the crowd to slow down, focus, and appreciate each wine, and to understand that a 'snap' judgement doesn't consitute proper appreciation (in terms of analysis, I mean) of a wine. I certainly understand that, and applaud it.

I don't believe, however, that gauging your number of sips per wine is going to indicate anything having to do with extract or quality. That's a numerical quantification of something that doesn't exactly lend itself to numerical quantification. :) So as a general idea, or even an indicator, yes, the more a wine demands your attention (usually) the better it is. To you.

I mean, hey, there's more than a few times when I've sipped repeatedly at a wine trying to figure out exactly what is wrong with it! Trouble is, the repeated sippings didn't make it one bit better. :wink:

Extract? I'm not sold on that one. And hey, let's not even go into that rat's nest of 'extract' versus 'extraction'. :)

Re the Pinot Noir: I can understand Lisa's plight in finding a good Burgundian PN within the given price range. She did good primarily by selecting Dureuil-Janthial. Good house; good track record; some good holdings. And Chalonaise wines rarely get the same dollars as Cote d'Or.

You're right, things like this are usually just done for funsies. And they are interesting to do, for those who participate and those who put the events on.

One of my basic favored approaches, when I have the time to do it, is to set up a whole series of "taste and compare" selections, pitting multiple varieties against each other, and pitting old world vs. new world against each other.....but doing it blind, so that the participants can't have expectations---or if they DO have expectations, they have to put them to the test.

Funny thing is though, JC: once I send even a novice through this exercise it's amazing how quickly they catch on and get very comfortble, very fast, in defining varietal characteristics AND ow/nw distinctions.
User avatar
User

Dale Williams

Rank

Compassionate Connoisseur

Posts

9173

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:32 pm

Location

Dobbs Ferry, NY (NYC metro)

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by Dale Williams » Mon Jul 02, 2007 9:23 pm

Hoke wrote:I don't believe, however, that gauging your number of sips per wine is going to indicate anything having to do with extract or quality. That's a numerical quantification of something that doesn't exactly lend itself to numerical quantification. .


That's right, Hoke. Gotta save that energy for timing the finish with a stopwatch.

If the French were trying to rig it, I could have chosen better wines. But on other hand unless you really know your audience, rigging can backfire.

Thanks JC for the notes, very good!
no avatar
User

James Roscoe

Rank

Chat Prince

Posts

10772

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:43 pm

Location

D.C. Metro Area - Maryland

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by James Roscoe » Mon Jul 02, 2007 9:29 pm

JC,
Thanks for posting this. The brilliant, but somewhat bald and overweight server was me. I poured for both events and was pretty busy behind the scenes. I didn't get to listen much. We also were not allowed to taste until the crowd went home. Then we pulled out the glasses and drank what was left.

There was no more of the Sancerre left, but the Cloudy Bay SB was nice and crisp and tasted just fine to me. The Vouvray was clearly better than the South African chenin blanc, but I would purchase either one. the Vouvray was a steal. I didn't get to the Chardonays or the rieslings. The New Zealand pinot was good, but nothing special. I loved both of the merlots for different reasons, but would have chosen the Bordeaux for it's greater complexity of flavors. I could not belive people chose the Australian shiraz over the St. Joseph. There was no comparison. The St, Joseph was better now and had all the aging potential. The Australian was a one note fruit bomb in my not so humble opinion. I loved both the cabs. The Buehler was very nice and the Bourdeaux will be great in a few years.

At the afternoon competition Napa-Sonoma swept the floor over Bordeaux. I don't have a list of the wines. All I can say is I tasted all but the very last Bordeaux and I was dismayed with the poor judgment of the crowd. They loved this big fruitbomb Duckhorn Merlot that I thought wasn't nearly as nice as the St. Emilion it was up against. The same was true with the Groth cab that I think went up against a St. Julien. Of course there was no real food, only some nice cheeses and pate. Still it was a fun event and I was glad I volunteered. I'm sorry I missed JC.
Cheers!
James
Yes, and how many deaths will it take 'til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
User avatar
User

Hoke

Rank

Achieving Wine Immortality

Posts

11459

Joined

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:07 am

Location

Portland, OR

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by Hoke » Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:17 pm

At the afternoon competition Napa-Sonoma swept the floor over Bordeaux. I don't have a list of the wines. All I can say is I tasted all but the very last Bordeaux and I was dismayed with the poor judgment of the crowd.


Ah, ah, ah. James, I thought I taught you better than that! :D

Poor judgement, or the crowd in question simply had different taste preferences?

Anytime you make it a beauty contest, remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And if I was applying the Gerald Asher principle of judging (which might be what Lisa was referring to) I'd say the Sancerre would have to be the hit of the tasting, since it was all gone. :wink:
no avatar
User

Rahsaan

Rank

Wild and Crazy Guy

Posts

7838

Joined

Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:20 pm

Location

Chapel Hill, NC

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by Rahsaan » Tue Jul 03, 2007 6:54 am

JC (NC) wrote:DOMAINE DU TUNNEL SYRAH, ST. JOSEPH, FRANCE 2005
TWO HANDS "ANGEL'S SHARE" SHIRAZ, MCLAREN VALE, AUSTRALIA

Wine A was slightly tannic which I found offputting. I tried sips of both wines with a dry chocolate brownie and thought the Australian was a slightly better match.


Well yes, if you're trying to match syrah with chocolate brownies I could see how tannin would be a problem and how the Australian version might be better :)
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

26569

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:52 pm

Location

Connecticut

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by David M. Bueker » Tue Jul 03, 2007 8:08 am

Rahsaan wrote:
JC (NC) wrote:DOMAINE DU TUNNEL SYRAH, ST. JOSEPH, FRANCE 2005
TWO HANDS "ANGEL'S SHARE" SHIRAZ, MCLAREN VALE, AUSTRALIA

Wine A was slightly tannic which I found offputting. I tried sips of both wines with a dry chocolate brownie and thought the Australian was a slightly better match.


Well yes, if you're trying to match syrah with chocolate brownies I could see how tannin would be a problem and how the Australian version might be better :)


No, no, no. Aussie Shiraz (and California Syrah) goes best with chocolate chip cookies, not brownies.

Gosh I hope a 2005 St. Joseph had some noticeable tannin.
Democracy dies in the darkness
no avatar
User

Rahsaan

Rank

Wild and Crazy Guy

Posts

7838

Joined

Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:20 pm

Location

Chapel Hill, NC

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by Rahsaan » Tue Jul 03, 2007 8:15 am

Hoke wrote:although the "French wine versus the rest of the world" gives an edge to France just in the way it was set up, and I don't think that really mirrors the reality of the wine world right now..


Perhaps. But with the possible exception of the riesling flight France is the undisputed home of the "benchmark" style for each of the other grapes.

Of course other schemas could be divised, but the mileage would not go as far with global comparisons of nebbiolo, sangiovese, tempranillo, pinotage, norton, etc..
no avatar
User

James Roscoe

Rank

Chat Prince

Posts

10772

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:43 pm

Location

D.C. Metro Area - Maryland

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by James Roscoe » Tue Jul 03, 2007 8:45 am

Hoke, you are correct again. I was forgetting myself. Let's say I was surprised that the results were so one-sided in favor of the California wines. I love Bordeaux so perhaps I am biased. (I still don't get the palate of the average American wine drinker.)

The St. Joseph had great tannins, but was not too tannic as were a couple of the Bordeauxs from the afternoon session. (I will admitt to having a fondness for tannin, so....) But the St Joseph was, IMNSHO, clearly more complex and food friendly.

Both speakers noted that France was the benchmark for all of these wines with the exception of the rieslings which they admitted was in Germany. Someone asked why they didn't use a German wine and I think they said something about the German style not being popular. I think it had more to do with the Old World vs. New World set up of the event. In any event, this was the most convincing win of the day for France. I doubt it would have been as convincing if a German riesling was on the table.
Yes, and how many deaths will it take 'til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
no avatar
User

JC (NC)

Rank

Lifelong Learner

Posts

6663

Joined

Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:23 pm

Location

Fayetteville, NC

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by JC (NC) » Tue Jul 03, 2007 9:32 am

First, Hoke, I was confusing "extract" and "extraction" and I do know better. Slip of the keyboarding I guess. Lisa talked about wine being 85% water, maybe 7-14% alcohol and the one or two percent etc. left is the extract and that contains the flavor and color etc. from the grapes.

I am sensitive to tannin but did make the point that the St. Joseph has aging potential and I think will be better than the Australian Shiraz with a little age on it. My favorite red wine is Pinot Noir/Burgundy and my favorite white wine is Riesling as I generally go for acidic wines rather than tannic wines.

As for deciphering old world vs. new world I had a pretty mediocre record at this tasting. I got 100% at a Fayetteville Wine Society Meeting (only four pairings) and the only one I hesitated on was involving a 2003 Bordeaux (primarily Merlot) where I thought the excessively hot vintage might make the Bordeaux riper and jammier than normal. However, the Washington State Merlot up against it was both jammy and more oak influenced so that helped me select the French wine. These comparisons are fun and if I attend enough of them I should improve my detecting skills.

James, sorry I didn't get acquainted with you but the pourers were probably too busy to chat anyway. I thought it was a well organized and well run event. Have you attended wine seminars taught by Hoke? I did attend one at Pinehurst Wine Festival taught by one of his colleagues.
And I heard good things about Duckhorn Merlot although I've never had one.
no avatar
User

James Roscoe

Rank

Chat Prince

Posts

10772

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:43 pm

Location

D.C. Metro Area - Maryland

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confus

by James Roscoe » Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:41 am

JC (NC) wrote:James, sorry I didn't get acquainted with you but the pourers were probably too busy to chat anyway. I thought it was a well organized and well run event. Have you attended wine seminars taught by Hoke? I did attend one at Pinehurst Wine Festival taught by one of his colleagues.
And I heard good things about Duckhorn Merlot although I've never had one.


Don't worry about not recognizing me. What was I going to do? Grab the microphone from Lisa and ask for JC from North Carolina? I don't think Lisa or Jay would have appreciated it.

The Duckhorn may have suffered from the fact that I was tasting a lot of cabernet and merlot in a very short period of time. I was spitting, but it was toward the end and tasted really sweet to me.

I have never had the pleasure of a formal wine tasting with Hoke, but he has "schooled" me on numerous occassions.
Yes, and how many deaths will it take 'til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
no avatar
User

Kyrstyn Kralovec

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

621

Joined

Mon Nov 20, 2006 4:50 pm

Location

Washington DC, Oregon bound

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confused

by Kyrstyn Kralovec » Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:44 am

Great notes, JC - next best thing to being there! Wished I could have made it...

As for the whole swallowing debate, I recall from the France vs. the Rest of the World in March that Lisa mentioned that it was the swallows following the initial "real" swallow, ie the aftertaste, that were the indicator of quality. For example, if the wine was rather simple, your reflexes would be less likely to continue on w/ "after" swallows, whereas a complex wine w/ a good aftertaste promted the reflexes to continue on w/ the swallowing motion ofter the beverage had gone down the gullet. Am I making sense at all??

Glad you all had fun, I do like the format of these events (the fun and educational factor in a sit-down format vs. walking around a crowded room trying to vie for space at the next table to get a taste of one of many wines that unless it's either really memorable or you right it down, you're going to forget).
I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. ~John Galt
User avatar
User

Bob Parsons Alberta

Rank

aka Doris

Posts

9906

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: WTN: France v. the Rest of the World (in wines)--lengthy/somewhat confus

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Jul 03, 2007 11:10 am

Very good post here. Wish I too could have been there, I love events like this.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 5 guests

Powered by phpBB ® | phpBB3 Style by KomiDesign