Rather than study for my Sensory Evaluation of Wines final, which is almost exactly a week away yet, I thought I’d paste up a collage of snapshots from last week’s class.
I don’t like to appear preoccupied with the cost of wine, but it is a subject that comes up. I was at a business lunch some years ago at which a client declared somewhat blithely, “There’s no point paying less than $20 for a bottle of wine.” That is, of course, a patently ridiculous thing to say, but as he was thanking us for a successfully completed project by way of covering lunch I chose not to argue with him at the time. One thing I don’t think you’ll find for under $20 in Ontario, however, is a white wine with the sort of depth that the top four displayed – the cheapest of which clocked in at about $29.
The sensory evaluation class could be (and in fact I believe it is unofficially) subtitled Wine Style, which is not coincidentally the title of the course text.The premise is that wine can be effectively categorized into a dozen styles according to their basic structural and aromatic characteristics (hey, maybe I’m studying right now). Red and white still wines are broken down into four categories each, rosés and sparkling wines two each. If you have Billy Munnelly’s Billy’s Best Bottles book or app this approach will be somewhat familiar, and I understand this is how one goes about creating a wine list. In the last class we tackled oaky whites and powerful reds, and the wines we tasted are pictured above.
There were a lot of pleasant surprises here, including l’Avion, a barrel-aged Roussanne out of California, and the very interesting 2001 López de Heredia Viña Gravonia Rioja Crianza which I initially thought smelled like a bog but ended up remarkably lively and complex on the palate. I may have missed the mark a bit in my analysis of the Kaesler The Bogan (this apparently translates to “the redneck” in the original Australian) which I criticized for being overly alcoholic and as a result poorly balanced, but it turns out it is fairly well-regarded critically. Then we wound up the afternoon with a Pomerol and a Brunello, so, advantage: me. Pity most of it ended up in a spit cup.
And there you have it, price to quality is not a linear equation, and oak barrels aren’t cheap. But these aren’t, you know, Tuesday wines.