Saturday afternoon we braved the ice and snow to take a class at The Party Source EQ. Now, I don't often write up these courses. I attend just enough of them that I'm a bit afraid I'd sound like a shill for the store, and while I love them, I promise I'm not on the payroll.
This class, though, was extra fun as it ran the gamut from
Champagne to Sherry, with atypical whites and reds in between. The theme was
wines that our good friend, and instructor, Jay Erisman would like to
find under his tree this year. No Santa suit, though. I swear, in
year's past, this session includes a Party Source employee dressed as
Santa. Ah well, cutbacks you know.
That brings me to something else. Before I jump into the wines we tried, you should know about a few changes in the EQ sessions for 2009. The Party Source is now offering their 2009 schedules, which are awesome and now cover 3 months in a handy calendar format. Here are the changes you should be aware of:
Now, time to get to all these fun wines that Jay shared with us on Saturday afternoon:
Pierre Gimmonet Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne 1er Cru, $34.99 on closeout: If I had to pick one wine to drink all the time, it would be Champagne. I love the stuff. This Gimmonet Chardonnay bubbly is one of those grower Champagnes I told you about. We actually have a bottle of the Gimmonet here at home that we bought earlier this year. This particular wine has a nice crisp edge coupled with a rich flavor. It was also sporting that yeast characteristic that I like so much in real Champagnes – like a great loaf of bread. The Gimmonet was lower in acid and quite well balanced.
Colle dei Venti Cortese 2005, Italy, $7.99 on closeout: The Cortese is a native Italian grape. Don't wrinkle your nose; this is a yummy wine. For me, it needed food – in fact, I think it's a great food wine. Kevin liked it on its own. He found it had floral character, peach blossom, as well as a nice minerality to it.
Chateau Beauchene Marsanne 2006, France, $15.99: This is an interesting wine. I've rarely had Marsanne on its own. Instead, I often have it blended with other grapes. At first, this wine is a little strange. But it grew on me big-time and ended up being my favorite wine that we tasted. Kevin and I both thought it had some bourbon-y characteristics. By that we're thinking of the toasted wood, vanilla, and a little malty quality. As the wine opened up (I held onto mine throughout the whole tasting), I got more melon and peaches. It was a very golden wine, and I felt like it wanted to be a dessert wine but the winemaker wouldn't let it.
Shel & Kevin:
Bitch Grenache 2007, Australia, $9.99: I know. But I've liked this wine in the past too. I even picked up 6 bottles of this one to hand out to my girlfriends. You've got to have a sense of humour to appreciate the name, after all. This is a "project wine" from ace Australian winemakers Dan Phillips (Marquis Phillips) and Chris Ringland (R Wines). Bitch is a nice everyday wine made from Grenache grapes. It's high in alcohol, at 15%, but well-balanced, so you don't realize how tipsy you're getting. It's a softer Australian wine, and not over the top at all. I hope my girlfriends love it!
Chappellet Merlot 2005, Napa Valley, $27.99: Chappellet is a rather impressive vineyard, so I really wanted to like this wine more than I did. I thought it needed to open up a bit more, so I really wasn't getting the flavors out of it I had hoped. I did get a fair amount of cedar, and found the wine to be both soft and dry. There seemed to be some hidden fruit wanting to come out as well. According to Kevin, this wine paired nice with the duck pate on the plates.
Malvira' Roera Mombeltramo 2004, Nebbiolo, Italy, $36.99: This was a yummy wine. We could have ended the class on this one and I would have been happy. It was full of chocolate and dried fruits. It would pair well with gamey birds or meats, such as venison, duck, or turkey. Kevin noted a great finish of cherry and nice tannins.
Shel and Kevin:
Emilio Lustau Oloroso Sherry Almancenista Angel Zamarano, Spain, $8.99 on closeout: This was a fairly yummy Sherry. I'm a big fan of Sherry, although I prefer the Pedro Ximenez or cream sherries to this one. It's a personal thing though, as Kevin loved it. I have a nut allergy and the scent and flavors of almonds in this particular sherry was a bit of a turn-off for me. There were also dried apricot flavors, which were a nice complement.
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