Monday, June 12, 2017

Sweet Barrel-O-Wine! WSET class #7 - Part 2

Hmm - it seems that Class #7 has a Neil Diamond focus; first it was Cracklin' Rose (well, Cracklin' Champagne ) and then Sweet Barrel-O-Wine (rhymes with Sweet Caroline?).

The second half of the class looked at sweet wines - not my favourite, but important, all the same.

First, the lesson. There are a few ways that you can make wines sweet.

Interrupting the fermentation is the first one we looked at. This can be done by removing the yeast, fortifying the wine (like adding sulphur dioxide or alcohol) which is what they do to Port and to fortified muscats like Muscat de Beams de Venise.

The second way to sweeten wine is to add a sweet component to the blend. One way is to add unfermented grape juice (süssreserve), like in a German liebfraumilch, but the juice has to be made of the same type of grape as the wine. The second way is to add sweet wine. One famous one to add is called PX with stands for Pedro Ximenez which is a super sweet, almost honey-like wine that is used for sweet Sherry.

The last way to sweeten wine is to concentrate the sugars in the grapes. This is done by using dry grapes, either on the vine, like late harvest wines (e.g. spätlese) or letting the grapes dry on racks, etc., until they are like raisins which concentrates the flavours in wines such as Recioto (made form Corvina grape) or PX - the sweetest wine of the world. Another way to do this is by using noble rot  where grapes are in a damp area and develop a specific type of mould. The mould attack the grape and causes it to shrivel. This has to be done with grapes that are highly acidic and thinned skin.  The final way to concentrate sugars is freezing the grapes to make Ice Wine!

Our first wine was from Pantelleria which is an island that is south of Sicily. This wine (I believe it was a Recioto) was deep amber in colour and had medium plus intensity with aromas of raisin, fig, prune and a bit of floral. On the palate, it was nutty, raisin, vanilla, sultanas, and a jammy hint. It was sweet (almost lucsious) had medium plus acidity, full body, and a medium plus finish. This wine was rated as Very Good and was a Passito di Pantelleria made by Donna Fugato ($40 for 375 ml).

The second was a Noble Rot wine. It was from Vouvray (which is in the Loire region) and was made with Chenin Blanc.The colour was medium gold and it had a medium plus intensity on the nose, with aromas of raisin, earth, and lots of stone fruit. On the palate, there was jam, plum, fig, fresh fruit and, again, an earthiness. It was a sweet wine with high acidity, medium plus body and a medium plus finish. This 2005 wine from Nectar Moncontour was also rated as Very Good and cost $72 for 500 ml.

Next up was a Tokaji wine - our instructor's favourite wine! It was medium gold in colour and had medium intensity on the nose with aromas of marmalade, peach, apricot and tropical fruits like mango. On the palate, it had flavours of tech, pineapple and apricot jam with an earth flavour. It was a sweet wine with high acidity, medium body and a long finish. Tokaji wines are rated on sweetness by puttanyos which range from 3 to 6 - this one had 5 puttonyos. This 2009 Tokaji from Chateau Dereszla had 11.5% alcohol,  cost $50, and pairs well with veal and chicken.

The final wine was soooo sweet. If you like sweet wines, this is the one. It was medium gold in colour, and had a medium plus intensity on the nose with aromas of raisin, lychee and pineapple. It was a lusciously sweet wine (the level above sweet is officially called 'luscious') and had tastes of pineapple, raisin and apricot. There was high acidity, full body, and a long finish with 7.5% alcohol. This was a Mission Hill Reseve Riesling Icewine from 2014. It pairs well with cheese and costs $56 for 375 ml.

I definitely learned a lot about both sparkling and sweet wines during this class of my WSET. I was able to pinpoint the tastes that makes sparkling Champagne so desirable and I have an understanding of how sweet wines can really vary.

Our next class deals with Port and Sherry - two wines that I am not all that familiar with. Time for some more learning!

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