drinking, er, studying

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


So I signed up to take the introductory sommelier course in November.

And upon confirmation of my registration, I received a 21-page syllabus of everything I will have to know in order to pass this test. This ranges from vineyard practices (canopy management, how to pick, weather) to winemaking (malolactic fermentation, fermentation vessels, barrel regimen) to all of the major winemaking regions around the world (from France to Portugal to the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand). I also need to know beer, spirits and cigars.

I am sort of terrified.

But I am doing a lot of, shall we say, "studying." For example, I need to know all seven of the Chablis Grand Crus for this test. So tonight I drank the 2001 Grenouille from La Chablisienne cooperative, which is one of said seven. (Surprisingly, this bottle only cost me $29.99 from Garagiste. I consider this a steal for a wine of this caliber.) And I read about the wine and the Chablis region while sipping.

Some things I learned: Chablis is part of Burgundy. And Chablis wine is made with Chardonnay, although the oak regimen is different from American Chardonnay and even the typical French Burgundy -- not as much oak because the winemakers want to preserve the "integrity" of the Chardonnay. (With the Grenouille, I got only a hint of biscuit/slight cookie flavor -- probably because of just a touch of oak.) And the term "Chablis" (which you may recognize) was misused for many years -- people used it as a generic term for white wine, so as a result, some people think Chablis still means cheap, bad white wine. (I used to know someone who had a white cat named Chablis. Can't say if this cat was cheap or bad, though.) And Grand Cru Chablis can be aged for 15 years.

Which sort of made me feel guilty about opening my bottle at only seven years. But you have to drink it to learn it, right? (I'm serious -- this really is the best way to learn about wine.) And I really, really enjoyed this wine. I got white peach on the nose and just a breath of petrol (reminiscent of an older Riesling). In the mouth, there was a nice firm acidity (really perfect for a white wine made to age), what I thought was a bit of pineapple (not overwhelmingly so -- just a teeny note) and then that biscuit/cookie thing. Mouthfeel was medium-full, and the finish was very crisp and refreshing. Overall, very delicious.

And educational.

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