Washington State Vineyards
Chateau Ste Michelle Mimi 2014, Horse Heaven Hills 14% alcohol
Wine presentation that does not make the most of the wine’s character reduces the enjoyment of the wine experience. Let’s explore this concept with an experience that is improved by an understanding of wine presentation. The featured wine comes from the very good Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard in the famous Washington State region of Horse Heaven Hills. This suggestions offered are not general advice but the knowledge you can gain from experiencing the wine yourself. Therefore, buy two bottles. Experience the first and then maximize the experience by proper wine presentation when you serve the second bottle to your guests.
Let’s start with this wine and learn how to serve it.
Let’s taste it: lightly oaked, but while it displays an immediate first whiff of its oak residence, you need to patiently wait and continue to taste it. Pineapple and starfruit mingle on the nose with an apple base that is not ripe apple or green apple, but a fresh acidic apple that adds to the wine’s appeal. A hint of creme fraiche makes the wine lightly creamy and that creaminess follows through to the finish.
But wait. Within 15 minutes that aroma is fading and the oak factor fades first. However, it holds the oak and the flavors on the palate and they intensify on the finish. So, given this experience with the wine and other noticeable factors, how might we maximize this wine’s character?
Wine Presentation Factors to Consider when Serving this wine:
- Don’t open the wine ahead of time.
- Use bowl shaped glasses that are designed for oaked chardonnay as this will show the wine’s aromas at their best and help hold the aromas longer.
- Don’t serve this wine too cold. Try 58-60 degrees since anything less than that will not show the wine at its best.
- When too cold, the oak aromas are lost and at a higher temperature, they come through wonderfully — not bold, but with finesse.
Experiencing a wine provides the knowledge of how to serve it. Follow this path and you will experience wines at their best.
Emotional rating: With the right presentation, it can be rewarding.
Availability: Widely available.
Are the descriptions of wine biased toward the descriptions of the wine’s aromas? Some would say yes and some, no. Aromas are one of the great delights of wine. They can vary and present much excitement with every new bottle. What would wine be if it had little variation in aromas?
But because of this significant attraction, aromas are the selling point for lots of buyers. Hence, the aromas are emphasized and sales focus on them. Perhaps the competition for aromas is the point system, which can outdo the effect of aromas and secure a sale quickly. That’s a pity since aromas are what you experience, not a number.
Most wine lovers want expressive and intense aromas. But that is unfair. Some grapes have a low aromatic profile, yet they are classic grapes. Intensity of aroma is not everything. Again, some aromas are so well married to each other that they create an impression that is difficult to discern. A new and attractive aroma is created and only when on the palate can it for the first time be discerned as showing fruit or oak. It is also a complex aroma and can be one of the most exciting experiences.
The number of aromas is not an indication of quality in itself. Aromas feed the emotional response more than other elements. Smoothness and balance is a strong second. Seek to develop a sensitivity to the various aromas of both fruit and oak and the aromas that result from a blend of the two plus the effects of fermentation. We all love those aromas and the more you learn about them, the better taster you will become.
What wine will you explore next? What will you experience of the wine’s aromas?
Bouchard, Aines and Fils, 2016, Beaujolais Nouveau
On the third Thursday in November a celebration of the northern hemisphere’s first wines of the year’s vintage occurs as they are released in the USA. It’s a tradition that begin many years ago in the Old World and has spread to the New World, celebrated with Beaujolais Nouveau parties by many wine enthusiasts and is a fun way to begin the holiday season even before Thanksgiving. Beaujolais also pairs well with the Thanksgiving turkey in the USA, so it makes a timely appearance.
Sixty percent of the production in Beaujolais is Beaujolais Nouveau. It is light and refreshing, with acid as the dominant element. You can’t expect much from a wine that is made and released just weeks after harvest. It has not had time to marry, soften and blend even if the grapes ferment without being crushed, making a softer wine. But some are anything but soft.
It is a surprise to find a Beaujolais Nouveau that is, for a such a young Gamay wine, pleasantly soft and appealing. Raspberry features with little else. It is a one dimensional wine and also, as expected, not in great balance. But for those who love Beaujolais and the romance of the first wine of the season, this one is a good choice in 2016.
If you want to sense what a young wine can be like, tasting the Beaujolais each year is a good practice. Perhaps it’s time for you to join the annual celebration or plan your own Beaujolais Nouveau party tradition to begin in 2017. Mark your calendar so you won’t forget!
Emotional rating: refreshing!
Availability: Widely available
Wine tastings can be your training ground and your best way to learn wine so you can challenge the numbers of the experts. Some tastings showcase up to 200 wines and you have a splendid selection. Most wine tastings have a theme, such as a region or a grape variety. When you are at one of these tastings, take your time and don’t consume all the wines you sample. (Spitting is not only acceptable, but recommended).
For the serious taster, it’s good to have a routine so that all wines are examined with the same approach, i.e. number of swirls and steps that examine the color, the clarity, the aromas and their intensity, the tastes and the texture of the wine as well as its structure and finish. This is the only way to keep your evaluations without a bias caused by different examination systems.
Make notes of each wine and practice your sensory skills. Above all, concentrate, because the comments of others and the many distractions will keep disturbing your focus.
After the tasting, evaluate your notes and your emotional responses. If you need to make a choice, favor your emotional responses. Therefore, have a simple method, like writing an “E” which means my emotional responses were great. Price will play its role and your decisions are likely to be good.
The only thing to remember is that atmosphere and the effect of all the distractions can play havoc with your emotions and your concentration. A wine tasting is serious business for the wine lovers who are trying to enhance their skills. Keep your focus and take necessary breaks, if needed. Stress is your second enemy and you must take time to destress regularly during the tasting. Good success at the best training ground you may have. It can be an experience to enjoy as well as to educate.
Let’s examine this common experience of choosing wine by numbers and evaluate its benefits and disadvantages.
- If you don’t know wine, someone is evaluating it for you.
- Simple, easy way to decide which you want. Just determine the lowest number you are willing to accept.
- Easy way to find a low price with apparent quality.
- You can develop a faith in a wine taster and simply accept his or her advice.
- The wine taster’s taste may not be your style or taste.
- You get into a rut of tasting only wines that fall into your range of numbers.
- You focus on numbers and don’t broaden your experience of regions, varieties, blends and the occasional wine that is very unusual and that the wine taster is biased against.
- Your knowledge of wine can be seriously limited. You depend on others.
- You cannot become your own wine taster and evaluator.
Now let’s ask some questions.
- Do wine scores psychologically influence your purchase and, more importantly, your taste? Yes, it’s hard not to be influenced by a high score. Your senses begin to respond to numbers.
- Does it help to have this kind of a guide? It can, but you become dependent on scores.
- Should we only taste wines 90 and above? Definitely not. There are some great experiences below 90. Remember, wine tasters are not always right and do not agree among themselves.
- Should we slavishly follow a wine taster who seems to have similar likes to us? No. Try those who disagree with your taste and disagree with your favorite wine taster and you will discover what it is that the wine taster was focusing on and what they missed. We need to taste wines of different quality to appreciate why good is good and very good is very good.
- Unless flawed, a wine has something to say. Can you appreciate and value its message? Every wine that is not flawed will teach you something.
What are some other paths to follow? Match wine to food? Let the moment and your spontaneity dictate occasionally? Regularly taste outside of your comfort zone? Become your own evaluator and use the distinct advantages of a public wine tasting.
What will your next wine experience teach you?