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This past year, a very quirky and motley cru of friends began to gather and drink wine. We all had the same passion and appreciation for it, and we enjoyed getting together on the weekends to taste and discuss different wines. As the weeks went by we decided that we needed to challenge ourselves a bit more and came up with the concept of a blind tasting competition focus based club. The aim of the club would be to bring wine in a brown paper bag, and in accordance with the nights theme, discuss and taste the wine whilst trying to identify the vintages, sub regions as well as rate the wines. The winner would get to speak about their wine and share their knowledge. As so, Wine Wars came to be.
I will be sharing our experiences as Wine Wars continues to grow. So far, we have about forty members, with about fifteen who are students at FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality who are enrolled in the Wine Academy. We are open to everyone who wants to learn and has the “thirst!” The venue always changes and so does the theme, which we decide at the previous meeting. Tonight’s tasting is German Whites and Pinot’s from around the world. The first wine instantly becomes my favorite, brought by club member, Amanda. First up was a Riesling Spatlese 2010 by Berkansteler Lay. This wine is from the Mosel (my favorite) and already looks slightly effervescent. The mouth feel is creamy with good acidity and a medium, refreshing body with fruity notes of melon,
pear and a slight honeysuckle finish. The finish is wonderfully tart with acidity in the back of the mouth. I really enjoyed this wine. We next tried a Kabinett 2002 by Klosterberg (also from the Mosel). I thought that the nose and appearance trumped the taste of the wine. It had an interesting pale green appearance with yellow highlights and a fantastic expressive aroma with notes of honeysuckle and other white flowers coupled with great minerality. I thought this wine was a bit past its prime and had a bit of a short finish, but what we got in the beginning; gala apples and tart white fruit with a touch of acidity showing in the middle of the mouth was wonderful. This wine would have been delicious a few years earlier. We then brought my wine, a Dry Spatlese 2010 by Wein & Sektgut from the Rhine (more minerality, structure and all-around backbone). The color of this wine was white gold and very bright with a strong nose of sea spray, minerality and subtle apple notes. The flavor of the wine was, in the best terms, funky! Salt paired with apple (gala and green), lemon zest and wonderful acidity. The first thought I had when tasting this wine was, “this would pair so well with shellfish.” The high acidity and great minerality makes this Rhine wine a food wine in my eyes.
After the whites, we moved on to our Pinot portion of the tasting. We were all excited to experience both old and new world Pinot’s and to me, you can’t go wrong with either one! Pinot Noir is one of my favorite grape varieties, simply because it is so difficult to cultivate. We tasted a typical Oregon Pinot from the Willamette Valley Vineyards, a 2009. The color of this wine was a rusty, brick red. The nose was extremely oaky with notes of prune, cherries and green pepper. The nose and flavor matched consistently with hints of raisin, stewed cherry and medium tannin with great acidity.
We tasted another wine from Willamette Valley and it was similar to the previous one. We then tried a Louis Latour Pinot 2006 that had amazing aromas of wet earth, dark cherry with cedar, oak and eucalyptus. This Burgundian style Pinot had an interesting mouth feel that was silky with notes of mint (and some other herbaceous, refreshing notes), prunes and dark stewed cherries. The finish was all the way to the back of the throat with intense dark fruit wrapping up this spectacular wine. To end the tasting, we tried a special wine that I decided to bring to extend our Pinot knowledge. I decided to bring a Saint Laurent, which although has not been proven by DNA testing, is believed to be part of the Pinot family. The wine is a dark, highly aromatic grape variety. The appearance of this wine was a brackish red/purple accompanied by a foxy nose. Aromas of stewed cherries and some wood that we could not place. The mouth feel was jammy and full, covering the entire palate with red fruit like strawberries and raspberries. I loved the complexity of this wine; the way the fruit dissipated towards the back of the throat.
The tasting was a success as always and as Wine Wars continues to grow in size and appreciation, I will continue to share our tastings and experiences!
Written by Nicole Linares
Nicole Linares is a student at the Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality, USA, an active member of her schools Wine Academy and budding wine writer